A story about perseverance and resilience

Bassil Hafez and Jack Della Maddalena, UFC Vegas 77
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JULY 15: (L-R) Bassil Hafez punches Jack Della Maddalena of Australia in their welterweight bout during UFC Fight Night at UFC APEX on July 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Nearly a dozen years ago, a twenty-year-old Bassil Hafez stepped into the cage for an amateur MMA fight and walked away with his first victory. While it takes some fighters some time to figure out if the sport is for them or if they have the drive to work through the tough regional scene, Hafez was immediately clear about what he wanted.

“I got into MMA with the goal of getting into the UFC – that was always my dream and that’s why I got involved in the sport,” Hafez said. “But I’m not going to sit here and say it was an easy ride or an easy path the whole way.”

Some of these hiccups on his path to the UFC were painful. They didn’t let him compete again for years.

“There were times when, just like Mickey (Gall) had been out for two years, I had been out for two years,” he says. “I had three knee surgeries in a row and had to get a full-time job.”

And while those bumps in the road weren’t easy, Hafez never wavered. He had moments of doubt as anyone would, but his strong inability carried him through the most difficult moments of his journey.

“I’ve had moments in my career where I thought maybe this wouldn’t happen. Maybe I’ll be the guy they always say, ‘Hey, he was supposed to be there, but he never made it,'” he said. “Perseverance and resilience – that’s really something that my parents passed on to me and it’s something that I believe is strong in my genetics and my heart. No matter what happens, I will not allow any failures or negative things that happen to keep me from achieving my end goal.”

That end goal is to one day become a UFC champion, and the next step is to earn his first UFC win. He gets the chance to face a familiar foe in Mickey Gall, whom he defeated in a wrestling match almost ten years ago. While he isn’t overly reliant on that outcome, he is confident ahead of their upcoming clash.

“I’m going to say it’s a three-lap finish,” he said. “I don’t like to give away what I’m going to do, but I believe I’ll finish Mickey in three rounds.”

You can watch Hafez and Gall throw as part of the UFC 302 preliminaries on ESPN+. They start this Saturday at 6:30 PM EST.

You can hear the full audio of this at 24:49.

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