October 21, 2009
It was about the most amateurish thing we've seen recently in the UFC. Making his UFC debut, Razak Al-Hassan refused to tap when caught in a Steve Cantwell armbar at UFC: Fight for the Troops last December. It was almost as if Al-Hassan didn't know what was happening or what to do. Cantwell eventually snapped the arm. As Cantwell stood up and told UFC analyst Joe Rogan, "that was sweet," the arm appeared to be broken. Al-Hassan only suffered a dislocation. He said he was simply trying to escape the hold:
"Honestly, I didn’t even feel anything when it happened. A lot of people think I knew it was going to happen and I just refused to tap, but that wasn’t the case," Al-Hassan told the Las Vegas Sun. "In my mind I was trying to get out of the armbar, somehow move my arm in a different angle. Before I knew it, referee Mario Yamasaki was stopping the fight. I didn’t know what had happened and I even asked him what was going on. Only after the fight, when I started walking to the locker room, was it that my arm started bothering me."
At that point, it may have been wise to hang up four-ounce gloves and find something else to do. Instead, it motivated Al-Hassan to become a full-time fighter:
"I was still working 40 hours a week when I trained for that first fight. After that incident, I realized that this is the opportunity of a lifetime. I never wanted to look back and think, ‘What could I have done if only I had trained full time and joined a good camp.’"
Al-Hassan quit his Wells Fargo job in Iowa and joined the Duke Roufus camp in Milwaukee training with guys like Eric Shafer, Pat Barry and Ben Rothwell. He also works with Russ O'Connell in Waterloo, Iowa. O'Connell says you'll see this weekend at UFC 104 why the promotion wanted him:
"They saw him fight on these shows and he was like, destroying guys," O’Connell said. "His stand-up is really good, his shot defense is good. Guys were forced to stand up with him. I’ve seen him stop guys with leg kicks — just crushing their legs."
Al-Hassan faces TUF 9 alum Kyle Kingsbury. He's got a lot to prove because frankly I thought he may have been one of the five worst fighters I'd ever seen on a UFC card. Even his stand-up was sloppy. We'll see. Roufus is a good trainer and maybe the full-time training will make a huge difference. Saturday night is the test. At least he knows this time around to tap if he gets caught in a similar position.
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