The featherweight fight between Youssef Ghrairi and Hussein Salem was elevated to main event status at the last minute. It was the former who prevailed at UAE Warriors 23, claiming a majority decision win after three closely contested rounds.
The Iraqi was wearing Muay Thai shorts and attacked with punches and kicks in the opening exchanges only to be taken down by Ghrairi. He moved swiftly into side control but Salem attempted to counter with an armbar.
Salem worked his way back up and looked to score with more overhand rights and high left kicks.Â Ghrairi took him down again and finished the round in his opponent’s guard.
Clash of styles
At the start of the second stanza Salem scored with low kicks as his opponent looked to close the distance and clinch up. The Iraqi was clearly getting the better of the stand up exchanges but Ghrairi only needed about a minute to score a double leg takedown.
It was a clash of styles and while Ghrairi wasn’t doing much damage he was spending the majority of the fight in a dominant position. Salem had a point deducted for what appeared to be an eye poke leaving him with a mountain toÂ climb on the scorecards.
Salem scored with an inside low kicks as Ghrairi clearly wanted no part of the standup exchanges. He ate a hard body kick but having controlled the opening round and seen his opponent lose a point in the second the Lebanese fighter didn’t need to fight with any urgency.
Salem was the aggressor again when the third round fight and he surprisingly shot for a takedown, putting GhrairiÂ on his back. He looked to land punches and elbows as his opponent tried to claim he was being eye poked again.
Salem took his opponent’s back and started to tee off but he was too high and Ghrairi slipped out and found himself in top position, exactly where he wanted to be. The Iraqi worked his way up only to be taken down again with 90 seconds remaining.
It was a cautious strategy from Ghrairi which ultimately paid off with scorecards reading 30-26, 28-28 and 29-27 in his favour. He scored a majority decision win which takes his record to 9-2 while his opponent slips to 7-4.