Egyptian strawweight Mona Samir will look to secure her first win under the ONE Championship banner on Friday Night, 11 November, when she meets Michelle Nicolini at ONE: DEFENDING HONOR, which broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Samir comes from a strong wrestling background, as she is a four-time African Wrestling Championship silver medalist in freestyle wrestling, and the top-ranked female wrestler in Egypt. As for Nicolini, she is an eight-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and quite arguably the discipline’s best female practitioner.
With both fighters’ strengths being in the grappling arts, fans should expect the fight to play out on the mat. Samir is very confident in her training, strategy and abilities, but once the cage door shuts, she is looking beyond the immense ground skills, as she feels the fight will take shape elsewhere.
“We have a game plan for this fight, and BJJ and wrestling are not the only measure for any MMA fight,” the 27-year-old explains. “This fight is dependent on how you take your chances in the cage.”
Nicolini comes into the fight highly-touted for her long and outstanding BJJ career. The Brazilian, who trains out of the Singapore-based Evolve MMA camp, is an ADCC submission wrestling world champion and eight-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion who holds a third stripe on her black belt. Armed with a 2-1 record, she makes her ONE debut against Samir.
The Egyptian believes the key point of the bout will be that it falls under the rules of MMA, claiming: “I think I have the advantage in this fight. She is good in BJJ, but not in the cage.”
Samir trains with many of her fellow countrymen and women at Egyptian Top Team. The sport is still in its infancy in Egypt, and the team is filled with up-and-coming fighters looking to make a name for themselves on MMA’s biggest stage. It is a tight-knit group of hungry mixed martial artist, all of whom are on the verge of breaking out.
“My team is one of the best teams in the Middle East,” she declares. “They have a number of good warriors and fighters. I am really happy when I come to training with my team, especially my coach Mohamed Abdel Hamid. He always trains with us and gives his best to us. I fight for my team and my coach. I want to make them happy always.
“We have a number of great fighters at our gym. My coach Mohamed Abdel Hamid is a world champion in kickboxing, K1, and also a BJJ brown belt. I am training with Aya Saied, Walaa Abbas, Mahmoud Salama, and Amira Badr.”
Thanks in large part to ETT and the great stable of Egyptian fighters competing in ONE, MMA is becoming more well-received in Egypt on a daily basis, and the potential for growth is through the roof.
“Six years ago, MMA in Egypt was nothing,” Samir admits. “I think it was only kickboxing that was known in Egypt. The Evolution Championship came to improve it from zero to a very good level now. I think they are improving themselves and also, all the fighters are more focused in the sport.”
Samir’s professional record stands at 1-2, and she lost her only fight in the promotion — also her official MMA debut — to current ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee at ONE: ODYSSEY OF CHAMPIONS in September 2015, where she was tapped out in the first round via rear-naked choke.
The Egyptian wrestler feels the pressure, and the realization that this fight is a “must win” for both the short term, and long term, success of her career.
“I know this fight is going to be very hard, but I must win because I want to be the first Egyptian female fighter to get a victory in ONE Championship,” Samir states. “I have a big war in this event, so I don’t just want to take part for myself. I want to make history for my team and for my family.”