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10 for 10: Alex Soto Talks Brave, the Fighters and MMA in the Middle East

Former UFC fighter Alex “Extremo” Soto (@SotoMMA) has been busy since leaving the octagon, while still competitive he has now turned his focus from fighting to promoting. Along with Bahrain MMA’s Mohammed Shahid and Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Khalifia and fellow Team Hurricane Awesome member Monolo Hernandez, Soto is launching Brave Combat Federation. A new promotion set in the Middle East that is bringing in fighters from around the world. Alex took time to tell us about his new promotion and first event on September 23rd.

When we interviewed Mohammed Shahid last year, he talked about Bahrain MMA. Is that where Brave Combat Federation stems from and what was the inspiration in starting your own fight promotion?

Alex: The name Brave comes from the common understanding of what we as fans think of when an athlete steps into the cage. Not only are they Brave for their accomplishments in the cage but also Brave for their accomplishments outside of it. As an MMA Fighter I have an understanding of the types of sacrifices and dedication it takes to be competitive in this sport and these types of determination and goal settings transcends to fans in their everyday struggle in life. We are not just looking for top athletes, we are looking for top athletes that stand for something Brave. You will see this as we continue to promote our fight card this month.

Brave’s first event will be on September 23rd in Bahrain featuring Mohammad “The Latest” Fakhreddine (8-1) Vs Thiago “Monstro” Vieria as the main event. What can you tell us about the fighters and the fight and what are some of the other fighters featured on the card?

Alex: I can say that this fight is probably the most important fight in the Middle East. We have the best Welterweight to ever come out of the region, Mohammad Fahkreddine, from Lebanon (8-1) going up against the toughest welterweight prospect from Brazil in Thiago Vieria (8-0). Both of these fighters are champions from promotions in their region and we will provide the best platform for them to find out who is the best. These fighters are both heavy handed with most fights being finished in the first round by KO. There is no way these guys are going the distance. This is an incredible match up that must be seen. I can’t wait for them to tango in Bahrain.

Brave features fighters from all around the world. Do you feel the diversity is important and who are some of the fighters we should keep our eye on?

Alex: Diversity is going to be key for Brave Combat Federation’s success. I feel as a director and promoter of BRAVE, I have a sense of duty to show the arts from all different cultures. Our vision is to Bring a divers group of individuals who can put on a show as well as inspire others in the middle east to be Brave. The fact that we have this divers group of amazing athletes from ten different countries competing in the Middle East, to me is an incredible special thing to be part of and its something I have great pride in.

Brave is also introducing the straw-weight division for men at 110lbs. With lighter divisions being usually more exciting fighters, what are your expectations for the division and are there enough fighters to make the division have enough competition?

Alex: We spent a lot of time discussing this particular division. Because of Bahrain’s central location, we have the unique opportunity of being able to find some amazing talent at 110lbs. You probably wont see many coming from USA or Europe, but if you take a closer look at the Philippines, India, China, Thailand and even South America you will find a plethora of talent in this weight class. And you are correct this will be one of the more exciting weight classes in our show. We are very excited to showcase this weight class.

We know you have been a big presence in the middle east over the last few years, along with Mohammed Shahid and Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Khalifa. Do you feel that Bahrain and the middle east is one of the next big hot spots for MMA in the world? And who else has been instrumental in bringing Brave from dream to reality?

Alex: When I first landed on the island in 2013 Shahid and I talked about the possibility of Bahrain and the potential of MMA there. We both share the same excitement for the sport and though how awesome it would be to have a big MMA event. At the time he was the only school that focused on MMA and had only one pro fighter. When Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Khalifa contacted Shahid and asked for the right team to help organize an MMA organization, I was given a call to help out. After a just a little over a year we have 5 MMA gyms in the kingdom, an MMA national team and a consistent platform for amateurs in the region to make a name for themselves. I have to give a lot of credit to our coaches Eldar Eldarov, Renat and UFC hall of Famer Pete Williams as our Athletes Relation Head. They have been putting in a lot of work on our national team, which I believe is the core of our organization. In one year we have been able to send our national team to the amateur European championship and the world amateur championship in Las Vegas where our athletes got bronze. It’s an incredible task given to our coaches and staff to deliver. Of course the local Bahraini athletes responded with such determination, sacrifice and focus that their presence was undeniable in competition. Everyone knew that Bahrain fighters are a team to watch out for. I am incredibly proud of them for coming so far in such a small amount of time.

Your matchmaker Monolo Hernandez has been around the MMA game for over a decade, even fighting on two occasions. What does his experience bring to the federation as far as being a matchmaker goes and what kind of fights can we expect on a regular basis?

Alex: Manolo has an incredible amount of experience in MMA. He was there during the Lions Den days in San Diego, I call him the savior of MMA shows. He knows everyone and anyone in this sport. He has an incredible social network and is there to help us on our way to success. He will be an integral character in our show, stay tuned…

Does your experience as a fighter both here in the U.S. and abroad help you as you recruit talent to your promotion? Are you going to bring in any former opponents or training partners to compete in Brave?

Alex: Yes, As a fighter I feel I have the advantage as a promoter in realizing potential talent. I have a good eye for finding talent. Last year I was sent to look for amateur fighters and found Jose Torres, James Gallagher and Frans Mlambo. All of them have had a successful careers so far. Jose is signed to Titan FC (Flyweight Champion), James to Bellator MMA and Frans has become an international fighter. You will see Jose a world champion very soon by the way. I will bring fighters who are incredible athletes and who are Brave enough to fight in our promotion.

As a current/former fighter, with your last fight being September 2015, what has the transition been like going from competitor to promoter and do the competitive juices still flow? Any thoughts on bringing “Extremo” back in the cage for Brave as a fighter?

Alex: I will always have that competitive juice flowing in me. I think you will see “Extremo” back in there soon. My competitive juices for now flow for putting on some amazing shows with top athletes from around the world.

What are your goals for Brave and where do you see the promotion going in the next few years? What can we look forward to from Brave’s first few events?

Alex: Our goal for Brave is to be the leading promotion for athletes that want and compete in. I want athletes to strive to fight for us and reach their goals. As fighters, Shahid and myself have always wanted to give back and allow athletes to showcase their skills against our divers roster. In the next few years Brave will be in several different countries including Bahrain. You will see Brave Athletes near you.

Brave Combat Federation coming September 23rd from Bahrain! Will the event be available in the U.S. via the internet or streaming service? iPPV? Alex thank you for the time. Where can fight fans check out more about the event and Brave?

Alex: Thanks Mike, we are working out a deal with several networks to air it live and will announce the news soon. Stay tuned through the official website of Brave: BraveFights.com.

Make sure you check out Brave on September 23rd on BraveFights.com! Thanks for the interview Alex!

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