The road to the Contender Series is different for everyone. There have been people who showed up on the show making their professional debut, and those on the show who are already wily veterans. While we see far less of the latter these days, Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady fits the bill.
A professional for over a decade with credits in Brave CF, LFA and Fury FC, Al-Selwady is certainly well travelled. Although it wasn’t the way that he drew it up for himself, he knows it’s all part of the journey.
“It definitely did suck, but at the end of the day that’s life. Life isn’t always exactly how you want it to be. It’s not what you think you deserve or you think you earned, it’s just a different path,” he shared. “You look at all the champions in the UFC, not everybody made it through the same amount of wins to the title. Not everyone fought the same level of competition to get there – everyone has just had a different way. This is just my way.”
It’s not just understanding that it might be different for everyone, but it’s also the growth he’s had as a result. He feels his longer than normal path has him ready to make noise in an instant.
“I had the longer way outside [of the UFC] and right now, I feel that was actually better for me,” Al-Selwady said. “Maybe this was just my way of being ready for everything.”
He notes that it’ll also allow him to take fights a little quicker than many prospects, who are doing a little more learning on the job.
Of course, all of this is not to say that he didn’t wish some things had gone differently. In fact, half a decade ago, Al-Selwady already had a UFC contract in his hands. However, do to a previous promotional agreement, he wasn’t able to sign it.
“Everybody [from Fortis] started getting signed to the UFC. I actually had a UFC contract in 2018 and Brave [CF] would not release me. That got me to feel sour with them because I had my shot, I had everything and they did not let me go,” Al-Selwady said, noting that Brace CF saw themselves in direct competition to the UFC, leading him to find others with a different understanding of their position. “Now I’m going to have to fight for much, much, much, much less money, but fight here in the states. So I fought for shows like LFA and Fury FC, that are actually feeders to the UFC. They actually want to be part of your journey.”
So that journey continues on with yet another chance for him to get a UFC contract. He rolls into week 2 of Dana White’s Contender Series this Tuesday against the highly touted George Hardwick. While some might think that Hardwick is the toughest opponent he could get for such an opportunity – Al-Selwady knows it couldn’t have happened any other way.
“I like every time someone talks about him – they hype him up a lot – because I know what I’m going to do to him,” he said. “I want everyone to keep that same energy, so when I beat him, when I expose him, they know that I’m the best.”
Al-Selwady’s fight with George Hardwick will serve as the main event for week 2 of Dana White’s Contender Series on ESPN+. That card starts at 7pm EST this Tuesday.
You can hear the entire audio of this interview at 30:20.