MMA: Lina Fayyad, the Jordanian dreaming of the Ultimate Fighting Championship

In training, Lina Fayad continues punching and kicking in a wire cage. Defying the weight of tradition, this Jordanian dreams of conquering the UFC, the largest mixed martial arts organization, MMA.

The 33-year-old likes to say at her training camp in Nicosia, the capital of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, that the fighter nicknamed “the ferocious savage.”

In many conservative societies in the Middle East, women are almost strangers to this sport, which is reserved for men.

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“When I started, I heard a lot of criticism and it’s still going on, but it doesn’t matter to me because I’m looking forward to fulfilling my dream of reaching the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC),” she told AFP.

“There were a lot of obstacles in my way (…) I was getting kicked out of the gym because I am a girl and the guys rejected my warriors,” the 32-year-old adds.

With long brown hair, short stature and bulging muscles, the young woman is the only one who practices the sport in her conservative country of Jordan.

“I often hear that I am a lioness in a cage, and it is true, I am not afraid.”

With the encouragement of her father, a boxer, she entered the world of martial arts from the age of ten, and practiced Taekwondo from the age of 12, then kickboxing and wrestling and continued in other disciplines.

Lina Fayyad, a Jordanian mixed martial artist, trains at a gymnasium in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia on May 18, 2022. (Credit: Roy AISS/AFP)

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“I won three gold medals in kickboxing in the Arab championship and a gold medal in the World Muay Thai Championship,” she says.

She switched to MMA in 2017, and has since won two of the three fights she has been in.

But apart from her sporting achievements, Lina Fayyad wants to send a message to Jordanian women.

“I get a lot of good comments from women and they are really motivated when they see me. I feel kind of responsible because I want to prove that Arab women can achieve their goals.”

If I had listened to the critics and become a housewife, I wouldn’t be happy. I want to take advantage of the gifts God has given me to do more. »

In the halls where she trains and supervises the fights in Nicosia, Lina Fayyad is preparing for her next fight scheduled for June in Limassol, although her participation remains uncertain due to recent fractures in both feet.

Even after her retirement, Lina Fayyad wants to continue playing a sport, but perhaps indulge in a sport more appropriate for her age, such as jiu-jitsu. “I will stop when I get older.”

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