This weekend’s Bellator 214 card may have no bigger triumph than Adel Altamimi stepping into the cage.
Los Angeles, CA — There are plenty of story lines playing out at Bellator 214 this weekend. The conclusion of the World Heavyweight Grand Prix. The debut of former WWE Superstar Jack Swagger. The next step for featherweight prospect Aaron Pico. Yet perhaps no story has had the ups and downs as that of Adel Altamimi.
His tale is nothing short of inspirational. Altamimi, an Iraqi, was working as a contractor for the U.S. Marines when he was captured by Al-Qaeda terrorists along with his cousin and best friend. They were killed just steps from him. With a blade to his throat, Altamimi was saved with seconds to spare by Marines who had located the hostages.
He would later move to the U.S., and go 7-5 as a pro in mixed martial arts, taking a few amateur fights before that. Now, he makes his Bellator MMA debut this weekend at Bellator 214 against Brandon McMahon (3-4).
“I feel blessed to be part of this card. Just really excited. I can’t wait. I can’t wait for Saturday night,” he told Cageside Press on Thursday.
Asked about how he got started in the sport, Altamimi said recalled that “I started martial arts, Kyokushin Karate at nine years old back home in Iraq.”
“I stopped fighting Kyokushin in 2011,” he continued. At that point, he’d gone through a near-death experience in his homeland, and made his way to America. “After I was like, I want to take it to MMA, mixed martial arts. And I switched, I started training mixed martial arts like around 2012. I made my pro debut 2014, and now we’re here.”
Coming up, one fighter stood out as an inspiration. “The first guy, his background as me in Kyokushin karate, GSP. I was always watching his fights. His dad’s a sensei, Kyokushin karate sensei.”
Another inspiration was Benson Henderson, a friend and training partner from the MMA Lab. The pair trained together for nearly a year.
The switch from karate to MMA wasn’t always easy. “It was hard for me moving from karate striking to mixed martial arts. It was a little bit [of a] tough switch. But I’m good around it now.”
And it has paid off, as he’ll debut in a major promotion this weekend.
Bellator 214 takes place January 26 at The Forum in Los Angeles. The main card airs on Paramount and DAZN.