I apologize if that headline comes off a little too Buzzfeed-y/clickbait-y, but I genuinely feel like this is a story everybody should read.
I’m sure a lot of MMA purist hardos may have had an issue with this and are writing off Featherweight Adel Altamimi as someone who is “disrespecting the sport” or something as we speak, but that could not be me. I think this was the coolest, and most genuine, heartfelt moment I’ve seen in all of mixed martial arts in a while, and I’ll explain why in a second.
Before I do, though, to put it simply: if you have the opportunity to have Chris Pratt in your corner for your Bellator debut – or any fight for that matter – you have Chris Pratt in your corner. And you know what? It seemed to work out pretty damn well for the former convoy driver, ripping an armbar win in the very first round.
Now, for the reasoning behind this moment of camaraderie and victory choking me up last night…
Adel Altamimi is a coach at the Unbreakable Performance MMA Gym, working with Jay Glazer’s Merging Vets And Players program, where a lot of veterans and even some high level celebrities (Chris Pratt, Wix Khalifa, Demi Lovato, etc.) train. He’s pretty much beloved by everyone who has ever so much as had a conversation with the guy, from the looks of it, and for good reason. His story is unlike any other you’ve ever heard.
Growing up in the war-torn country of Iraq, Adel was contracted by our U.S. Marines many years ago to work as a convoy driver for them. He, along with his best friend and cousin, accepted this duty, and helped our military out big time for a while – until Al Qaeda got word, and set up a fake checkpoint for them to hit.
All three were captured, tied up, and got masks thrown over their heads – and it was at that moment that Altamimi was forced to watch the terrorists cut off both his best friend and cousin’s heads right in front of him. The blade was then put to his throat, him being next in line for this brutal, sickening beheading, and Adel says that he completely accepted death, looking up at God, and thinking of only his family in the short time he had left.
In that moment, just seconds before he was about to be killed, Marines breached the room and saved Adel’s life.
Honestly, Jay Glazer and Adel Altamimi both share the same story I’m sharing with you right now in that above video, which I’ve watched a few times now, and I’m still choking up with some tears running down my face writing this because of how incredible and powerful a tale it is. Seriously.
Adel was so stunned that his brothers in the Marines deemed him important and worthy enough to look for, and save, that from that moment onward, he has dedicated his life to giving back everything that he possibly could to Marines, Veterans, and the United States of America.
When Bellator caught wind of Adel’s story, they decided to give back a little bit to him as well, with a multi-fight contract with the promotion, and that brings us to last night, where one of his true best friends in this world, Chris Pratt, was able to walk him out to the cage, corner him, and share that victory with him – spreading his story in the process.
I really wish that I would’ve shared this story earlier and rallied the Stoolies around Altamimi before his debut last night, because he’s the perfect guy for us to get behind, but I promise you that I won’t make that mistake again, and that there won’t come another one of his fights where we’re not all in his corner.
Adel, thank you for your service, and congratulations on the phenomenal victory last night. Looking forward to the next one.