MMA Reality Series: Getting to know ‘Al Batal’ Canadian competitor Tariq Ismail

January 7, 2015

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MMA Reality Series: Getting to know ‘Al Batal’ Canadian competitor Tariq Ismail



Fans across the globe tuned in to one of the most exciting seasons of Al Batal that featured one of Canada’s very own making it to the finals.

Tariq Ismail was born in Kuwait in 1990 during the Gulf War. His family was on the move and ended up immigrating with his mother and siblings to Toronto, Canada when he was just 5 years old.

Ismail ended up living in Abu Dhabi for alittle while because of his father being employed in the country. He then moved back to Toronto and found his new love, “MMA training”.

Ismail’s youth reflected his atitude in the Al Batal reality series. The ‘troublemaker’. He was definitely the most talked about of the series.

For those that don’t know, Al Batal is a MMA reality series based out of the UAE/Mena Region. The show follows the same format as UFC’s Ultimate Fighter, except that these talented fighters have a different avenue of exposure in a growing market.  MMACanada.net was invited to one of their earlier projects in 2010-2011 and we must say that the production, the image/branding and level of professionalism and fights were top notch.  Not to mention the hospitality of everyone in the company who treated us first class!

The finals was one of the most talked about episodes as Tariq battled Walid Seghir who is from Algeria, but representing France. The fight was intense with back and forth action from both fighters. There was some controversy after the third-round. To watch and get up to speed, click here to see the fight.

MMACanada.net caught up with Tariq Ismail to get his thoughts on Al Batal, his experiences as a young man and much more!

MMACanada: Talk about being a Canadian, your roots and how you became interested to compete on Al Batal?

I consider myself a citizen of the world. My Father is mixed from Sudan and Egypt and my mother is Turkish. I was born in Kuwait in 1990 during the gulf war. Immediately my family moved next door to Qatar because it was safer at the time. We spent 2 years in Qatar and then moved to Abu Dhabi for 3 years until I was 5 years old. At 5 years old I immigrated with my mother & siblings to Toronto Canada. I studied grades 1-5 at Westminster Public School in Vaughan. We moved back to Abu Dhabi where my father was working at the time and I completed grades 6-9 there. I was a big troublemaker at the time and had been expelled out of 3 schools for fighting & disrupting classes. My father decided to punish me by sending me to school in Sudan (cultural shock x100). I completed grades 10-11 in Khartoum American School in Sudan and after a couple years of good behavior, my father brought me back to Toronto where I finished grade 12 at Vaughan Secondary High School.

Here is where I found my true passion in life, martial arts. I joined a local gym called Toronto Kickboxing & Muay Thai (TKMT) owned by Warren Lee. Unfortunately, I didn’t stay long because I was accepted at the University of Ottawa to complete a business of commerce degree with a specialization in accounting. In Ottawa I joined my neighborhood gym called Bob Carvers Thai Boxing Academy. From there I’ve been travelling the world training and competing in Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, & MMA.

Seven years later, a dear friend of mine by the name of Ray Elbe contacted me 1 week before the show started. Elbe asked me if I wanted to participate on the show and the possibility of me becoming the Middle East Al-Batal lightweight champion. I accepted and 2 days later I was on a plane on my way to Abu Dhabi, UAE.

MMACanada: Talk about the experience of being on the Al Batal show and how are fighters received in the UAE/Mena Region?

I had an amazing time on Al-Batal. From the start, I was picked up at the airport and taken to a big luxury ranch in an unknown location between Abu Dhabi & Dubai. Management welcomed me at the gate and asked me to hand over my passport, phone, cameras, iPods, etc., for privacy concerns regarding the PR of the show. The villa we stayed at was huge with a big swimming pool and a huge training facility. We had our own chefs, cleaners, and drivers who took care of our food preparation, house chores, and all our transportation needs. Access to TV, Internet, and the world was not allowed but management was kind enough to take us out once at the end of every week to Dubai to enjoy ourselves at various entertainment venues. In general all the fighters were nice. A few fighters kept their distance while others were very welcoming. I really connected with Youssef Wehbe, Bandar Al Sadoon, and Youness Mikiss, Sofiane Seghir, and Khalid Al-Johani. Overall, fighters were treated like true superstars in the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region.

MMACanada: The ref (or judges) made a mistake in the finals when they announced you as the winner after 3 rounds of fighting. It was when you were outside of the arena that they informed you of the wrongful decision, and awarded Walid the winner. Explain your thoughts before and after the reversal?

I didn’t have any thoughts. I was zoned out. I had just fought my last fight in the tournament, my adrenaline was starting to wear off, the pain from my torn acl was starting to surface and all I could hear was my coaches and management going at it. After the reversal I remember thinking “shit.. I lost? Now I have to go back home and let everyone know I lost?” It was a confusing and frustrating time for me. The worst part was the next day was my 24th birthday. Actually that’s not the worst part. The worst part was me having to answer the phone when my father called and asked if I won. Good times…

MMACanada: What were some of the highlights of being on Al Batal?

– I received my blue belt from Prof. Ray Elbe
– Bandar was able to find out the exact location of the ranch we stayed at and had his brother come by (from Dubai) and park his car outside for us to use as a means of transportation for our late night adventures to Dubai.
– After a few escapes from the ranch Bandar was caught and kicked off the show.
– After Bandar was kicked off the show, I ended up escaping alone and making my way to Abu Dhabi where Ray Elbe, Jorge Lopez, and myself discovered Abu Dhabi’s nightlife scene.
– For my 24th birthday management took us out to see GFC 2 where I was lucky enough to see Badr Hari live in a 4-man kickboxing tournament. We ended up partying with the GFC crew that night in Dubai. I remember waking up on the 22nd floor of the H-Hotel in Dubai. Lets just say Boyd Clarke was good to us that night.
– And obviously winning my fights on the show.

MMACanada: Are you back in Canada now? If not, when will you be back and where do you call “home” in Canada?

I am back in Canada now. I am currently living in Toronto and training at Grants MMA. However, I still make trips to Ottawa and Montreal where I still train with my day one trainers.

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