Featherweight mixed martial artist Jameel Massouh’s run in the World Extreme Cagefighting promotion didn’t go as planned. Although he went the distance three times against tough competition, Massouh came up short each time on the scorecards, including a controversial split decision loss to Leonard Garcia.
“A lot of things played into it,” Massouh (24-7) said of his WEC run. “I think I probably would’ve done some of my preparation differently, especially with everyday life stuff.”
As Massouh knows, it’s hard sometimes to find the right balance between managing a professional fight career and dealing with responsibilities to friends, family, and others.
“There are a lot of things to worry about when you’re a fighter, like getting sponsors,” he said.
“At least fighting in the WEC, I know I didn’t fight any chumps,” he said.
And while it went down as a loss, Massouh and many onlookers believe he did enough to defeat Garcia, who was coming off of a loss to then-champion Mike Brown.
“I think about that Leonard Garcia fight, if I’d just been more aggressive in the third round and come after him more…” he said.
Now Massouh is focused on the future and working his way back up the ladder. He’s put together a three fight win streak, besting Sami Aziz — a Greco-Roman wrestling Olympian — on May 5 to win the Superior Challenge title in Sweden, and most recently defeating Nick Mamalis in a first round submission on the Bellator Fighting Championships September 16 card. Another fight with Bellator could come soon and Massouh could be in line to defend his Superior Challenge title against PRIDE and DREAM veteran Joachim Hansen, who recently beat Aziz in a number one contender match.
Up next for Massouh is a Nov. 24 showdown in Milwaukee against Chico Camus (7-1) at North American Fighting Championship: Bad Blood. Camus, a tough prospect training at Roufusport under Duke Roufus, has already defeated two WEC veterans, Joe Pearson and John Hosman.
But Massouh thinks he’ll be Camus’s toughest test to date and he’s confident he’ll get the win.
“He’s still early in his career and probably has that invincibility” feeling, he said of Camus. “He’s beaten two WEC veterans but I think I’ve faced tougher competition.”
Massouh mainly focuses on his own preparation, but he isn’t ignoring what style and skill Camus will bring to the table.
“I’d be kind of an idiot to go in there as a fighter and not know at all about what he’s doing,” Massouh said.
Roufus runs NAFC along with business partner Scott Joffe, so it might seem as if Massouh is heading into hostile territory against a prospect from the home camp. But even if that’s the case, Massouh isn’t worried.
“I’ve built my career in fights like that,” he said. “I felt like that against Leonard Garcia … I’ve been to Japan and fought the home town guy.”
He added, “I only live 40 miles from Milwaukee, so I’ll have plenty of fans there.”
To prepare for Camus, Massouh has been training with Sergio Gomez, another former WEC combatant, and Brian Geraghty, a participant on season five of The Ultimate Fighter.
“[Sergio] is an excellent training partner,” Massouh said. “Another longtime training partner of mine is Brian Geraghty from The Ultimate Fighter. He’s really technical and very good at mimicking an opponent’s style.”
Massouh’s coach at the Freestyle Academy is Dave Strasser, a longtime fighter himself who competed twice in the UFC in 2003.
“He’s a pioneer in the sport and a lot of people don’t know that,” Massouh said, pointing to Strasser as the biggest reason for his success as a fighter.
And even with 31 pro fights already to his credit, Massouh still thinks the best in his MMA career is yet to come.
“I’ve been swimming under the radar a bit, but I don’t think it will stay like that much longer,” he said.
For more information on the NAFC event, go to www.nafc.tv.