UFC 302’s Bassil Hafez: A Story of Perseverance and Resillience

Bassil Hafez and Jack Della Maddalena, UFC Vegas 77
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 15: (L-R) Bassil Hafez punches Jack Della Maddalena of Australia in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night at UFC APEX on July 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Nearly a dozen years ago, a 20-year old Bassil Hafez stepped into the cage for an amateur MMA fight and walked away with his first win. While it takes some fighters some time to figure out whether the sport is for them or if they have the drive to work through the daunting regional scene – it was clear to Hafez right away what he wanted.

“I got into MMA with the goal of being in the UFC – that was always my dream and that’s why I got involved in the sport,” Hafez shared. “But I’m not going to sit here and say it was an easy ride or an easy path the whole way.”

Some of this hiccups on his road to the UFC were painful. They left him unable to compete for years on end.

“There were points where, the same way that Mickey [Gall] has been out for two years, I was out for two years as well,” he recounts. “I had three knee surgeries back-to-back and had to get a full-time job.”

And while those bumps on the road weren’t easy, Hafez never faltered. He had moments of doubt as any would, but his strong unbringing carried him through his journey’s toughest moments.

“I went through points in my career where I thought maybe this isn’t going to happen. Maybe I’m going to be the guy who they always say ‘hey, he should have been there, but never made it,” he said. “Perseverance and resillience – that’s really something my parents passed down to me and it’s something I believe is strong within my genetics and my heart. No matter what, I’m not going to allow whatever failures or negative things that happen to deter me from reaching my end goal.”

That end goal is to be a UFC champion one day, and the next step is to pick up his first UFC victory. He’ll get a chance to against a familiar foe in Mickey Gall – who he defeated in a grappling match nearly a decade ago. While he’s not hanging too much on that outcome, he is feeling confident ahead of their upcoming clash.

“I’m going to say it’s a finish inside three rounds,” he said. “I don’t like to give away what I’m going to do, but I believe I’ll finish Mickey inside of three rounds.”

You can catch Hafez and Gall throw down as part of the UFC 302 prelims on ESPN+. They start this Saturday at 6:30pm EST.

You can hear the entire audio of this at 24:49.