The Good Fight: An Interview with BRAVE CF’s Mohamed Shahid

In September 2023, BRAVE Combat Federation, the brainchild of HH Sheikh Khaled bin Hamad Al Khalifa broke world records by becoming the most global MMA promotion. BRAVE CF is a Mixed Martial Arts Company that travels around the world to create a global ecosystem that includes all nations and communities. Since 2016, the Federation has hosted events in 29 countries spanning 5 continents.

Mohammed Shahid is the man who relentlessly executes the vision of His Highness Shaikh Khaled bin Hamad Al Khalifa for the sport of mixed martial arts. Through KHK Sports’ many initiatives, Shahid, who serves as CEO of the company, looks to put into fruition the vision of HH Shaikh Khaled to reform MMA and change it from an events business to a sports business.

As the president of BRAVE CF, Shahid has helped globalize the sport by leading the company into a world record 30 countries in seven years of operations, while giving nearly 800 fighters from over 80 countries the opportunity to showcase their talents on a global stage.

Shahid has also been the leading force behind extraordinary deals to further BRAVE CF’s brand as the industry leader in market share in Asia and Europe, as well as the number one sports media property in the Middle East.

Bahrain Confidential recently caught up with the President of the most global MMA organization to find out about its early days, his role in bringing the lofty vision to life, and what’s in store for this Bahrain-based international MMA community.

Tell us a little about BRAVE CF’s beginnings.

Everything came from a question that HH Sh. Khaled bin Hamad Al Khalifa asked himself as a fan of the sport: ‘’What is missing in the MMA industry that can enable fighters to have the same resources and lifestyle as athletes from other sports?’’

The answer was that the entire industry was stuck on a model that was not able to elevate the sport to what it could be. It’s stuck in an event business format when it should be under a sports business format, which has enabled so many other sports to thrive on all levels. We believe that providing fighters with global opportunities to fight for a global audience is the way forward, and that is why we created the BRAVE Combat Federation.

The Federation has globalized faster and broader than any other promotion in the industry. It has now provided nearly 800 fighters from 80+ nations with the opportunities we spoke about when we first started, also being hosted in a world record 30 countries. BRAVE CF is also an instrument for change in the entire industry and that’s why we have partnered with the likes of IMMAF, to empower them to become the global regulators for MMA, something the sport lacked and was stopping MMA from truly becoming mainstream and transforming the lives of everyone involved in the industry at all levels. And this reform is taking place under the vision of His Highness Shaikh Khaled.

What does a typical day as President of the MMA organization look like?

As President of an MMA organization, you don’t have a day but, it’s more calculated as a week. The majority of the time is spent with the Team at BRAVE HQ in Bahrain and in the afternoons, I meet with partners. The day doesn’t end in the evenings, as I’ll also have communications with the international offices of BRAVE CF and potential business partners.

We always have to be on 24/7 on the communication with the updates on fighters in BRAVE CF, and potential talents; so yes, I do spend a lot of time on calls. But the key time is spent every day with our executive team to get the fast-moving operations and developments and to make sure there are solutions to every problem that needs to be handled. So, every day is very exciting and eventful when you are the president of an MMA organization.  

What went into making BRAVE CF the most global MMA promotion and what does this mean for Bahrain’s status in the global MMA scene?

A leader that leads from the front, presented a clear vision and supported in every way possible. HH Sh. Khaled Bin Hamad Al Khalifa’s passion allowed us to make this happen.

A dedicated team that believes in this vision has put everything on the line to compete at the global level by being passionate, aggressive and ambitious. And a lot of great global partners joined us with the goal of making history. 

BRAVE CF is the crown jewel of Bahrain sports. The Kingdom is now producing some of the best athletes in MMA, worldwide. The country is in the driving seat in global MMA, from hosting the BRAVE International Combat Week; hosting World Championships in Bahrain and abroad, becoming the largest sports development program, to becoming the number one ranked team in the world. And, of course, being the home of BRAVE CF – we have shown that the organization goes beyond MMA and has become a case study for sports in the Middle East as we have become the largest sports media property in the region.

Of the 29 countries that BRAVE CF events were held in, which were the most memorable and why?

Every single country has its story, its records, and its memories that are unique.

But the BICW events in Bahrain will always be the most memorable. We had the World Championship along with a huge BRAVE CF event, as we introduced the most valuable trophy in sports.

We also had an edition that had, what I believe, is the greatest opening in any sporting event, when HH Sh. Khaled received Bu Hazza, a special needs child training MMA as a part of his program and made his dream come true: they competed together in the cage with the world watching. Bu Hazza won and it was a treat to see the happiness on his face.

That moment encapsulates what Bahrain and BRAVE CF are all about and there will never be another moment that touched my life as much as that.

Can you describe an unexpected moment you’ve witnessed during an MMA event?

BRAVE CF events are always filled with exciting and unexpected moments, but I think the most unexpected one would be during the BICW 2022, in which we introduced the MMA Super Cup.

During a Super Cup bout, a fighter tried to throw a spinning kick at his opponent right before the end of the round, and the referee stepped in to separate both competitors. The kick ended up landing on the referee and knocking him out momentarily. I had never seen that before and it was one of many moments that went viral in BRAVE CF history.

If you had the chance to train with any MMA fighter for a day, who would it be and what skills would you hope to learn from them?

If I could return to my days as a fighter, I would want to have the current team assembled at KHK MMA. They have the best coaches and the team is truly a family, with a group of world champions from every combat sport coming together, so you could decide which discipline to develop and you’ll have the best coaches and training partners to do that.

What is in store for BRAVE CF in the next year?

Next year is significant for BRAVE CF. 2023 was the year of the voice, and we have shown the world what BRAVE CF is all about, having broken multiple records and setting ourselves as one of the top organizations in the world, certainly the most global one. We will stay consistent with that in 2024 and, at the same time, introduce the change with a loud voice, bringing in multiple initiatives and developments of major projects that will make BRAVE CF one of the biggest sports economic initiatives of the new year. It’s going to be a fantastic year for BRAVE CF and for sports in the Kingdom of Bahrain.