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Goa’s Nelson Paes shines on MMA world stage

India scripted its first ever win at an international mixed martial arts (MMA) event as Nelson Paes fought his way to victory at the Desert Force Championship in Dubai on January 25.The agile fighter from a small village in the Indian state of Goa took on Khadoum Al Kaabi of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the featherweight category at Skydive Dubai.

With the Emirati city in the background, no rx pulsating music and the most elite audience from the Arab world in full presence, Paes won favour with all and stole victory in three full rounds on a unanimous decision by the judges. Al Kaabi’s popularity on his home turf ensured a full house, but Paes bettered the local favourite with skill and agility.

“This was new territory for me as I am used to fighting in India with my fans supporting me. But I took his cheers as my own and ensured that it did not affect me. I was so proud to carry the Indian flag and represent my country. I knew from the moment of my selection that nothing would stop me from winning this for my country, state, my family and the Indian residents of Dubai,” Paes said.

Each round lasted five minutes and Al Kaabi did not let Paes steal the show easily. He was determined to win in front of his fans, and fought back valiantly in the second round even when he was floored. But Paes shot back with punch after punch and the judges’ decisions was clearly in his favour. His current MMA record now stands at 3-2-0 (win-loss-draw) with a current streak of three victories.

Still reeling with excitement over the win, Paes is looking forward to recovery for a month or two, and strategising his future moves. “Now I can see all the opportunities come my way and be ready for the next big moment in my life. My MMA career has kicked off in earnest now and I could not be happier. Right now, I would like to enjoy this moment,” he added. Paes earlier won major events organised in India by the country’s most popular martial arts entertainment company Combat Cage Fight (CCF).

The Desert Force 20 saw 17 bouts – including four main card fights – in an exhilarating show of mixed martial arts skills at Sky Dive Dubai, Dubai Marina. Desert Force Championship is the largest mixed martial arts promotion company in the UAE, and hosts most of the top-ranked Arab MMA fighters in the region. Through its televised programmes, it offers an excellent opportunity for upcoming fighters like Paes to showcase their skills on an international stage.

For more information, contact Sinead McManus on +91 98 608 73300