Stars align for PFL Champions vs Bellator Champions in Saudi Arabia

Stars align for PFL Champions vs Bellator Champions in Saudi Arabia
PFL CEO Peter Murray announcing the line-up for the PFL Champions vs Bellator Champions at the press conference in Hollywood, Florida
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Updated 25 January 2024
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Stars align for PFL Champions vs Bellator Champions in Saudi Arabia

Stars align for PFL Champions vs Bellator Champions in Saudi Arabia
  • Professional Fighters League announces lineup for event taking place at Riyadh’s Kingdom Arena

FLORIDA: The Professional Fighters League on Wednesday announced the lineup for the PFL Champions vs Bellator Champions event that will take place on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh.

The main bout will see reigning PFL heavyweight champion Renan Ferreira (12-3) square off against Bellator’s heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (31-7).

“There’s a lot of hardware up here. We have PFL champs versus Bellator champs,” said Peter Murray, the PFL’s CEO. “This is really an unprecedented event in MMA. Many fans have been talking about this for years. Other promotions have been talking about this as well.

“I am so proud that on the heels of the Bellator acquisition we can now present the very best in MMA. At the end of each year, we will kick off the next season for both PFL and Bellator, a major tentpole event which will be PFL Champions vs. Bellator Champions. Think of it as MMA’s All-Star Game. This will be long term.”

“We’re certainly paving the way for the next generation of great athletes and champions.”

The PFL’s heavyweight champion Ferreira said: “It’s a special moment for the fans and a special moment for the sport. I feel honored to be in the position as the main event to fight against a guy with the credentials that Ryan Bader has.

“Just excited to get there. You guys know my fighting style, always pressing the action and moving forward. So just excited to put on a great show.”

He added: “I’ve been following Bader’s career for a very long time. I’ve watched his fights live. I think he’s a great athlete and his wrestling credentials speak for themself. It’s just a great honor to be facing off against him.”

On a potential fight with Frances Ngannou, Ferreira said: “I feel like it’s undeniable. If everything goes as planned, yeah, after February 24th Frances is the name. That being said, I’ll do it however he wants to do it. If he wants to do it in MMA, in boxing, we’ll be ready.”

Bader commented: “I have 40-something fights, he has quite a bit less. I’ve been in this game a long time. I’ve stood across from everyone including champions, former champions, and legends of the sport. I’ve been fighting five-round fights for as long as I could remember so I’m proven in that aspect.

“He’s an amazing fighter and he’s huge. He’s fun to watch. It’s one of those challenges where I need to go in there and dictate what I do. I believe I have the tools. He’s a giant man who will be swinging hard so you never know what will happen.”

Newly crowned PFL light heavyweight champion Impa Kasanganay (15-3) returns to the middleweight division where he will meet Bellator middleweight champion Johnny Eblen (14-0).

“I respect Johnny and he’s a good fighter and he’s done great work,” Kasanganay said. “But for me if you want to be the best you got to fight the best wherever they are at. He’s been the king of the Bellator middleweight division and for me my focus is to be multi-class champion and this is my opportunity to do that. To me, when you see a great fighter across the ring, that’s what gets me going and gets me excited. It’s a great opportunity and honor. Fighters fight and that’s what I do.”

Two-time PFL welterweight champion Ray Cooper III (25-9), who replaced Magomed Magomedkerimov, will collide with Bellator welterweight champion Jason Jackson (17-4). The PFL’s featherweight champion Jesus Pinedo (23-6-1), the first Peruvian MMA world champion, takes on reigning Bellator featherweight champion and former lightweight champion Patricio Pitbull (35-7).

Two of the sport’s most iconic names will meet in the PFL SmartCage as former title challengers Thiago Santos (22-11) and Yoel Romero (15-7) clash.

The 2023 PFL lightweight championship finalist Clay Collard (24-11) is set to face former Bellator featherweight champion A.J. McKee (21-1).


Italy’s under-20s win epee gold at fencing championship in Riyadh

Italy’s under-20s win epee gold at fencing championship in Riyadh
Updated 5 sec ago
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Italy’s under-20s win epee gold at fencing championship in Riyadh

Italy’s under-20s win epee gold at fencing championship in Riyadh

RIYADH: Italy’s under-20s won gold in the epee at the Junior and Cadet Fencing World Championships in Riyadh topping France.
Princess Ahad Bint Al-Hassan Al-Saud, the director of operations at the Saudi Arabian Motorsports and Motorcycle Federation, awarded the Italians their medals. The French received silver and the Swiss team picked up the bronze.
The international competition will run until April 20 at Arena Hall, King Saud University.
The US topped the medal standings in the tournament with nine medals (3 gold, 2 silver, 4 bronze) after winning the gold medal in the epee (women's team) by defeating Italy who took silver, while the French team won the bronze. Eseem Al-Hassan, a board member of the Saudi Fencing Federation, awarded the medals to the winners.
The president of the Saudi Weightlifting Federation, Mohammed Al-Harbi, and the executive director of the federation, Sakhr Al-Duwayyan, attended the sixth-day competitions, with Al-Harbi expressing his admiration for the organization of the championship and the efforts put into its success.


On Thursday, at 8:30 a.m., the individual sabre competitions for men and women will begin at the Arena Hall. The competition will continue until the end of the championship on Saturday. The Saudi team for Thursday’s games will include Mohammad Al-Amro, Abdullah Al-Mansaf, Ziyad Al-Mutairi, Jihad Al-Obeidi, Al-Hasnaa Al-Hammaad, Dana Al-Qahtani, Ahad Al-Moammar, and Talin Al-Qudmani.


World Endurance Championship camel race begins May 4 in Al-Ula

World Endurance Championship camel race begins May 4 in Al-Ula
Updated 17 April 2024
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World Endurance Championship camel race begins May 4 in Al-Ula

World Endurance Championship camel race begins May 4 in Al-Ula
  • Championship includes a 16 km race split into two 8 km stages, with a 30-minute break in between
  • Inaugural event has a prize pool of more than SR2 million ($533,000) up for grabs

RIYADH: The International Federation for Camel Racing (IFCR) has announced that the first edition of the World Endurance Championship camel race will begin May 4 in Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula.

The inaugural event has a prize pool of more than SR2 million ($533,000) up for grabs.

The championship includes a 16 km race split into two 8 km stages, with a 30-minute break in between.

During the first stage, 20 male and 15 women riders will compete in order to qualify for the finals. The first place prize is SR500,000, the IFCR said, with the remaining money distributed among 10 winners for both categories.

IFCR member states can compete in the championship with 10 male and five female competitors. Non-members can borrow camels and submit a maximum of three competitors of both genders.


Al-Hilal’s record 34-match winning run ends at Al-Ain

Al-Hilal’s record 34-match winning run ends at Al-Ain
Updated 17 April 2024
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Al-Hilal’s record 34-match winning run ends at Al-Ain

Al-Hilal’s record 34-match winning run ends at Al-Ain
  • Morocco striker Soufiane Rahimi was the star of the show after he scored a first-half hat-trick in a 4-2 win for Al-Ain in their semifinal first leg
  • Al-Hilal, the four-time Asian champions, last failed to win a game in September last year when they drew a Saudi Pro League match

AL-AIN: Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal saw their record run of 34 successive victories end on Wednesday at the hands of UAE’s Al-Ain in the Asian Champions League.
Morocco striker Soufiane Rahimi was the star of the show after he scored a first-half hat-trick in a 4-2 win for Al-Ain in their semifinal first leg.
Al-Hilal, the four-time Asian champions, last failed to win a game in September last year when they drew a Saudi Pro League match.
Wednesday’s game had been postponed 24 hours after torrential rain swamped the UAE and the record-setting Saudis must have wished it had kept raining.
Rahimi opened the scoring after just six minutes from a pass by Yahia Nader and added a second from the penalty spot 20 minutes later after he was brought down by goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais who was yellow carded for his troubles.
Rahimi completed his hat-trick in the 40th minute, again from a penalty after Ali Al-Bulayhi chopped down Brazilian defender Erik in the area.
Al-Hilal reduced the deficit early in the second period when Malcom scored from a pass by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
However, the Saudis conceded yet another penalty just before the hour mark with Kalidou Koulibaly bringing down Rahimi.
This time Paraguayan star Alejandro Romero took over spot-kick duties to make it 4-1 for Al-Ain, the inaugural winners of the Asian Champions League in 2003.
Salem Al-Dawsari kept Al-Hilal in the tie ahead of next Tuesday’s return leg by scoring his team’s second goal of the night in the 78th minute.
Earlier Wednesday, South Korea’s Ulsan claimed a slender lead in their semifinal with a 1-0 first leg win over Japan’s Yokohama F-Marinos.


American Catlin shines as Attieh leads homegrown charge at 2024 Saudi Open

American Catlin shines as Attieh leads homegrown charge at 2024 Saudi Open
Updated 17 April 2024
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American Catlin shines as Attieh leads homegrown charge at 2024 Saudi Open

American Catlin shines as Attieh leads homegrown charge at 2024 Saudi Open
  • John Catlin carried on his good form with a round of 66 at Riyadh Golf Club
  • Saudi amateur Khalid Walid Attieh is the best-placed Saudi player at even par

RIYADH: John Catlin leads the 2024 Saudi Open presented by PIF after an opening round of 66 saw him carry on the strong form he showed when winning the International Series Macau in March, as he praised the facilities on offer at Riyadh Golf Club.

American Catlin is a five-time Asian Tour winner and sits at six-under par with Wade Ormsby, Justin Quiban, Tatsunori Shogenji and Scott Hend all just one shot back after the first day of action. Asian Tour Order of Merit leader and LIV Golf member David Puig was well-placed to end the day level with Catlin before a double bogey on the 16th dropped him back to the group of four players at four-under par.

Catlin played in the PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf Club in King Abdullah Economic City three years ago, but this is his first visit to the capital and he praised the tournament, noting the strong field was inevitable given the standard of tournaments Golf Saudi continues to host.

Catlin said: “It’s my second time coming to Saudi Arabia and when I played the Saudi International it was a top class event and this is right up there with it. Everything so far has been run very, very well, the facilities are really good and I am enjoying myself for sure. Good players like playing good events, and if you put on a good event like this, you’re going to get a strong field.

“I played solid golf. It was playing difficult out there and the wind picked up from the start. You had to think your way around and I did that quite well. I had control of my ball flight and was able to get the ball pin high a lot, which is difficult out here. I holed a few nice putts too. I look forward to the challenge tomorrow when we might see even more wind.”

Khalid Walid Attieh made history in Oman earlier this year when he became the first Saudi amateur to make a cut at the International Series event in Muscat and he carried on his strong form on the opening day in Riyadh. His round of 72 was the best among the seven Saudi golfers in the field, while Moroccan Ayoub Lguirati ended on one-under par to lead the 20 invited Arab golfers.

Attieh said: “I was really pleased with how I played this morning as the wind made it really difficult. But my performance was at a good level and it confirmed to me that I am not far away from competing regularly with the best players on the Asian Tour.

“It is vital that Saudi players are given the opportunity to play in events with fields as strong as this, because we are all developing quickly. I thank Golf Saudi for their support and for the chance to play on the Asian Tour again.”

Last year’s runner-up Henrik Stenson is well placed to make a charge at two-under-par, while reigning champion Denwit Boriboonsub is one short further back after two bogeys in his final six holes.

The PIF Moment of the Day belonged to Thai golfer Itthipat Buranatanyarat, who teed off on the 10th hole and birdied his third, fourth, fifth and sixth holes of the day to storm to five-under-par, before ending the day joint-10th on three-under-par.


12-year-old Saudi karting sensation dreams of glory at motorsport’s highest level

12-year-old Saudi karting sensation dreams of glory at motorsport’s highest level
Updated 17 April 2024
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12-year-old Saudi karting sensation dreams of glory at motorsport’s highest level

12-year-old Saudi karting sensation dreams of glory at motorsport’s highest level
  • Only three years after taking up racing, Janna Al-Nujaiman has already excelled in domestic and regional competitions against more experienced drivers
  • Janna Al-Nujaiman: My dad used to take me to a rental karting, which sparked my interest, as well as watching F1 on the weekends with him as a little kid

JEDDAH: At only 12, Saudi’s Janna Talal Al-Nujaiman is already dreaming big. As she makes a name for herself in the Kingdom’s karting scene, she has set her sights on becoming a professional driver and ultimately racing in no less a category than Formula One.

The Jeddah resident started karting three years ago in Kyiv while living with her Ukrainian mother, and since then, she has progressed through age group levels and has gone on to rank highly in multiple national and regional races.

Unlike many young drivers coming through the ranks of different racing categories today, however, Janna does not come from a motorsport background.

She is making her way through a tough and costly sport with the support of her family, especially her father Talal Al-Nujaiman.

“I’m not really from a racing family. My dad used to take me to a rental karting, which sparked my interest, as well as watching F1 on the weekends with him as a little kid,” she said about the origins of her passion for the sport.

From the first day, she showed a remarkable aptitude for karting.

“After my father saw how happy I was driving, he called the (instructors) and asked them about me, and my first time in karting,” Janna added. “He asked them about my performance and timing. Was it normal? The answer was no, what I did was not normal.”

In 2022, while Janna and her father were in France on vacation, she was admitted into a karting academy, which was supervised by Herve Montage, a former French rally driver.

Janna was again the least experienced among the senior candidates — a group of elite karting drivers aged 14 to 16. And yet again, the young Saudi offered a glimpse of what she is capable of.

After one month of practice and breaking records, she was asked to stay in France and continue racing, but her father, a Saudia captain, believed that the future of racing was in the Kingdom and refused all offers his daughter received.

“Based on the vision of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and what my country has been going through in all fields, I decided to bring back my daughter to Saudi Arabia and (have her) make her way in motorsports in her own country,” Talal said.

He believes his daughter has what it takes to break into motorsports in Saudi Arabia.

“I have to be very careful what I say now so that I don’t build up pressure on her,” Talal said. “But racing today is looking for women, wants women, and she really loves racing. So, I support her as best I can.

“Making it to the top is of course a very tough road. If she wants to get there, she has to do everything and work very hard. Then she can do it.”

Talal said that his daughter started racing competitively in Jeddah in September 2023, winning her first karting competition on Feb. 24 of this year at the Track Challenge in Jeddah. A mark of her talent, she achieved this in a field of almost 100 male drivers, all older and more experienced than her, with some being university champions with 10 years of experience.

“My dream is to see my daughter representing her country,” Talal said.

For Janna however, that is not enough. Her dream is to be the first female champion in racing’s most elite series here in the Kingdom.

“My dream is to see myself in the future raising the flag of my country Saudi Arabia … by winning the F1 and (being) the first Saudi woman who will make the impossible come true,” she said.

She says she hopes to one day become as good as her motor racing idol Fernando Alonso.

Karting has historically been the birthplace of champions such as Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Alonso, whom Janna recently met.

Now she is looking for sponsorship opportunities to help keep her racing dream alive through karting and eventually other series. While she continues to count on the significant support of her father, who helps cover many racing expenses, her goal now is to add sponsors who will help push her onto the professional circuits.

Given her breakthroughs in such a short time, with the right support, the name Janna Al-Nujaiman is set to become a familiar one for racing fans across the Kingdom and the region in the coming years.