Lebanese martial arts star Mohammad “O Lutador” Karaki has a golden opportunity to shock the world and become a ONE World Champion.
Karaki will make his ONE Championship debut at ONE: PURSUIT OF GREATNESS in Yangon, Myanmar, as he challenges for the ONE Middleweight World Title.
His test will be made all the tougher by the fact that he is not only facing a powerful champion, he will be taking on a national hero of Myanmar – “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang, who has never lost on home soil in his mixed martial arts career.
While Aung La N Sang is proudly flying the flag for Myanmar on the world stage, Karaki is looking to do the same for Middle East martial arts.
The Lebanese star started his love affair with martial arts in his early teens, first in karate, then jiu-jitsu, before eventually progressing to the all-encompassing skillset of the sport.
His first bout came about by chance when he agreed to step in to replace an injured teammate, and he has not looked back since.
Karaki has competed across the region, winning bouts in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Egypt as he compiled an impressive undefeated record that has eventually propelled him into ONE.
“I like how much importance is being given to the sport in Jordan and in the UAE,” he says.
“Interest is growing fast in mixed martial arts, despite the lack of Emirati athletes.”
Karaki’s undefeated run has included a host of title wins, including the Desert Force Light Heavyweight and Middleweight Titles, as well as the Phoenix Middleweight Title.
The latter title holds particular significance because the Phoenix organisation is based in Karaki’s hometown of Beirut.
Sadly, last year the Lebanese Ministry of Youth and Sports took the decision to ban mixed martial arts, meaning he is no longer able to compete at home in front of his friends and family.
That does not stop Karaki using mixed martial arts to help youngsters in the region, however.
“I fight for everything and invest in myself due to the lack of support from officials,” he explains.
“I think that by supporting younger kids, giving them a taste of what mixed martial arts is all about from my experience, and representing Lebanon all over the world, I’m contributing to my country and feeling the support of my people back in Lebanon.”
While Karaki receives no support from the Lebanese government, he enjoys the backing from a passionate fanbase.
“I feel Lebanese people’s support because mixed martial arts is very popular in the country. They back us all the way and love the sport,” he says.
“It’s a real honour to represent my people, and I hope to win for them.”
He says he expects a host of fans to make the trip from Lebanon to Myanmar to watch him challenge for the title on 26 October in Yangon.
If he is successful, he will bring home a mixed martial arts success story to a nation whose government has, for now, turned its back on the sport – and one of its premier athletes.