UFC welterweight Sabah Homasi (11-6) isn’t impressed by what he’s heard from his UFC 218 opponent Abdul Razak Alhassan (7-1), lately. “I think he’s looking past me,” Homasi told Bloody Elbow. “I think I’m probably the underdog going into this fight, but it doesn’t bother me at all. A lot of people don’t know of me, but they’ll find out who I am very soon.”
In researching Alhassan, Homasi watched an interview conducted by James Lynch of Fightful. In the video ‘Judo Thunder’ explained his move to Team Takedown in Texas (home to Johny Hendricks). He also stated that he’s confident he can finish Homasi on December 2nd. The veteran of The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians was eager to respond to those soundbites.
“I’ve been training with American Top Team since 2008 and I know what I’m capable of doing. He thinks he’s going to knock me out – he said first or second round – I’ve never been knocked out before in my life. And I’ve been sparring for years with the top guys. Who has he sparred with? Johny Hendricks? Whoop-dee-doo. Johny Hendricks is at the end of his career. And Johny Hendricks is nothing compared to my style. I’m way more athletic than Johny Hendricks. I can strike, I can grapple, I’ve got the complete package and I’m going to show it all on Saturday. I’m looking forward to it.”
Homasi’s studying of Alhassan is not limited to media interviews. ‘The Sleek Sheik’ has also watched his opponent’s previous UFC fights. Moreover, Homasi has learned plenty about Alhassan from the only man to ever defeat him; ATT teammate Omari Akhmedov.
Alhassan faced Akhmedov at UFC Fight Night 109 back in May. That fight ended in a split decision for the Dagestani fighter. That was Alhassan’s first loss and the first time the Ghanaian had ever been fought past the first round.
“He makes a lot of mistakes and I’m just going to capitalize on them,” said Homasi when evaluating Alhassan vs. Akhmedov. “He’s a tough guy. He comes forwards. He throws big punches, but that’s nothing I’m not used to.”
Homasi’s previous fight, his UFC debut, was as a short notice replacement opponent against veteran Tim Means. That bout went down at UFC 202 in August, 2016. Homasi dropped the contest via second round TKO. The UFC sophomore admitted that taking the fight on short notice had given him an extremely tough hill to climb.
“Without a full camp and against a tough guy, it’s really hard,” reflected Homasi. “To fight an experienced guy like that, and such a tough guy, on ten days’ notice... but, no excuses; he was the better guy that night. I went out there and I gassed myself out. I believe if we do it again, with a full camp, I beat him.”
Homasi said the sense of occasion around the fight also added to its difficulty. There weren’t any ‘UFC jitters’, he said, but instead a lot of emotions connected with the hard road traveled by the 29-year-old fighter.
Homasi’s last fight before being signed to the UFC was against Jorge Patino at Titan FC 40 in June, 2016. Prior to that fight – after seven years of toiling in Strikeforce, Bellator, and Absolute Fighting Championships – Homasi was beginning to doubt whether he would ever make it to the sport’s top promotion.
“Before the Patino fight, I was talking to my brother and I told him, ‘I don’t know if I can keep chasing after this dream,’” revealed Homasi. “I’d just turned 28, and I told him, ‘I think after this fight, if I don’t get picked up by the UFC, I think I’m done fighting.’ And he kind of got mad and said, ‘What about all your hard work? You’ve got to keep chasing after your dream.’ So I stuck with it and after that fight I got signed to the UFC.”
Homasi said it was his joy of making it to the UFC that may have had a negative effect on the fight. “I was super happy. I was excited to be there. I had a smile on my face. I just don’t think I controlled those emotions as good as I thought I did. I wanted to put on a good fight for the fans, try and get a performance bonus, because I know I’m capable of doing so. It bit me in the ass.”
With that experience behind him, Homasi stated that he’s feeling more professional and assured heading into his second UFC contest. He’s still excited for the fight, but not to the point he’s lost any focus. It would be impossible for him to lose all excitement, especially since UFC 218 is happening somewhere Homasi calls his ‘happy place.’
Homasi was born in New Jersey and moved to Florida when he was 9-years-old. Some years later, Homasi’s family relocated again, to Dearborn, Michigan. It was in Michigan that Homasi first started training in MMA, at Cooper’s Gym in Detroit. A year after that Homasi went back down south to join American Top Team in Coconut Creek.
UFC 218 is the first time the UFC has been in Detroit since 2010. Homasi said his whole family will be in attendance and he’s excited to put on a good show for them (as well as fans of the UFC). “I believe my fight is on Fight Pass,” he said. “I don’t know how many people watch Fight Pass, but it doesn’t matter where I am on the card. It’s just a matter of time before people know who I am. I’m in the UFC now. Now I just have to make a name for myself, by going in there and starting to take names.”
And Homasi believes the first UFC name he is going to take is Abdul Razak Alhassan. “I’m going to put on a clinic, a striking clinic, a grappling clinic. I’m just going to mix it up and I’m going to look great doing it. I’m going to go in there and pick him apart and when he makes a mistake, I’m going to capitalize. He’s been out of the first round one time and that was against my teammate, so I know that he slows down. And when he slows down that’s going to be bad for him. If I land a big shot I can put him to sleep.”
Homasi vs. Alhassan, the third fight of the night, is part of the UFC Fight Pass early prelims card. That portion of the event begins at 6:15pm ET.