The global mixed martial arts community paid tribute to Bahraini prince Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa on his 30th birthday on September 23, 2019. He is the founder of the Bahrain-based MMA promotion Brave Combat Federation.
It all started with a dream. A vision of how his beloved sport of mixed martial arts could give more, to the athletes, to the fans and to everyone associated with it. Born on September 23, 1988 to Bahraini ruler King Hamad and Sheia bint Hassan Al Khrayyesh Al Ajmi of Kuwait, Al Khalifa has transformed into one of the iconic figures of MMA by thrusting his knowledge, passion, and resources into the sport.
As a passionate sportsman, it was no surprise that Al Khalifa followed the endeavors of young Hamza “The Pride of Bahrain” Kooheji. As the first ever Bahraini fighter, the latter became a central figure as he tore through the opposition in the local circuit, representing the Kingdom and making sure that the flag of Bahrain was always at the highest post.
During this time, Al Khalifa decided to take the matter into his own hands in all levels with the goal of helping the development of mixed martial arts. His first step was to establish an MMA team, that would mix top international fighters, professional athletes in search of opportunities to shine, and young men trying to make it in the amateur scene.
It was that arrangement that allowed KHK MMA to quickly blossom into one of the top MMA teams in the world. The team had UFC fighters Khabib Nurmagomedov and Frankie Edgar as well as Kooheji and his fellow Brave CF fighters Eldar Eldarov and Jose Torres.
This core represented all levels of athletes that made KHK MMA the fastest-growing team in the sport. With a strong purpose and a vision of development starting at the grassroots level, the began to flourish in the amateur scene, with future Bahraini heroes standing out such as young Hussain Ayyad, who won the first medal for Bahrain at an International Mixed Martial Arts Federation competition.
It was then that Al Khalifa realized he could make an even greater impact at the professional level. His vision was to bring the entire sport under one roof, to create a true ecosystem for mixed martial arts, where every talented individual would have the opportunity to thrive, as a fighter, a trainer, a fan or a media member.
Brave CF went from dreams to reality on Al Khalifa’s 26th birthday on September 23, 2016 as “Brave 1: Beginning” was held in Isa Town, Bahrain. It was the start of a marvelous adventure, one that would take the name of Bahrain around the world in short three years.
During this period, Brave CF has developed into the number two promotion in the world, providing hundreds of athletes with opportunities to shine at a global stage, and giving fighters from all corners of the planet a chance to become a champion. The promotion has many landmarks to its name, including being the first promotion to host an international show in the continent of Africa, as well as giving the first taste of global MMA in eight countries and in total, it has organized 26 events in 16 different countries in five continents.
Al Khalifa has also successfully transformed the Kingdom of Bahrain into the center of the sport with Brave International Combat Week, the largest combat sports festival in Asia. Every year, more than 500 athletes from more than 60 countries travel to Bahrain to take part in the IMMAF World Championships, dubbed the Olympics of MMA.
It is a success story for Al Khalifa and is indicative of how much more can be achieved with a clear vision and a perfect execution. Here is a message from Brave CF: