Sometimes, protecting yourself at all times might have a deeper meaning than just intelligently defending yourself in the cage. Featherweigt Leonardo Barbosa felt that first-hand at Truly Grand Fighting Championship 11’s main event, on February 11, in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul.
Paired up against Afghanistan’s own Ahmed Wali Hotak, the Brazilian suffered a second-round TKO defeat after taking a knee to the body. However, taking a second look at the finish, some fans might notice something was off.
TGFC 11 main event:— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) February 11, 2021
Ahmed Wali Hotak finishes Leonardo Barbosa with a knee to the body in the 2nd. Quite the reaction. Afghanistan crowd goes insane. #TGFC11 pic.twitter.com/dDsURSLVgs
Later, on his own Facebook account, Barbosa wrote a lengthy post describing the events that happened before and during the fight. According to the now deleted post, Barbosa said a man threatened him with a gun in the locker room moments before he walked out, and again during the fight, between rounds. The behavior left the Brazilian concerned and scared for his life, which he says was the reason why he took a dive and faked being hurt in the second round.
“I’m here to shed some light on a few facts that happened in my last fight, which is not something the sport preaches. When I got to Afghanistan, I was welcomed very well by the promotion and by the Afghan people. Everything was fine until I got to the venue where the card was taking place. When I was in the locker room, a ‘fan’ came in and told me something I didn’t understand and showed me he had a gun. That was all right, because I know it’s common for people to walk around with guns over there. When the fight started, that same guy had two bodyguards and wouldn’t stop yelling the same words he told me in the locker room, or something very similar. Always very angrily. He started being aggressive again in the break between the first and the second round.
“I was in an unknown country, so I felt scared.” Barbosa continued. “I wanted to preserve my life, because I honestly didn’t want to find out how far that guy’s anger went. That guy defined the outcome of the fight. I don’t blame the promotion or the Afghan people. It was an isolated case. To maintain my safety, the promotion promised me a rematch outside of Afghanistan. I’m waiting for the contract so we can do the fight and have the outcome be defined correctly. Let the better prepared man win on that day. I’m sorry to disappoint you guys, I hope I can put on the show you deserve and wait for the next time. Thank you for all the support.”
Before the loss, Leonardo Barbosa (17-7) picked up a win over Valdir Rodrigues in July 2019. So far, it is unclear if Truly Grand Fighting Championship will in fact award the 32-year-old a rematch, nor where or when will it take place at all.