Abdul Razak Alhassan: Welterweight’s Forgotten Contender
By James Lee
As the second edition of the UFC’s venture to Fight Island is reserved for July 15th, there are various storylines evident.
From the flood of British talent competing to Calvin Kattar looking to cement himself as the next featherweight contender, one storyline going under the radar is the return of Abdul Razak Alhassan. An exciting, hard-hitting welterweight who has become the forgotten threat at 170 lbs.
Nonetheless, there is significant reasoning behind his absent nature. Earlier this March, Alhassan was found not guilty of sexual assault after a two-year investigation. Reports in late 2018 linked him to a sexual assault investigation in Texas, but he was cleared of all charges this year and is now able to proceed with his career.
Unfortunately for him, and although he was given the green light by the authorities, his fighting state will be hard to renew. Not only that, his reputation will forever be stained by some, however, he must turn that talk about his fighting and a successful return on July 15th gives him the opportunity to do that.
The state of the welterweight division has made sustained success and recognition almost unachievable. The amount of talent unranked makes for a shark tank of a division, where losses are instrumental in the trajectory of championship aspirations. Crucially, and as welterweight champion Kamaru Usman adequately exemplified, the welterweight division requires an almost unforeseeable path to the top.
However, the animation Alhassan provides through his fighting style enables him a shortcut to the summit. An unexpected nature is appreciated highly within the community and his urgency to end the fight without hesitation will provide him more credit. All he needs is the combat community to remember that urgency in order for him to bounce back from the forgotten.
Although most may have omitted, his 43-second knockout of Niko Price was remarkably unique. A continual pressure with intent to leave the octagon without hesitation that has been given extra credibility by Price’s standing since.
Two back-to-back finishes over Sabah Homasi was just as impressive. Although Homasi struggled to amass consistency in the UFC, his stature in the sport is not denied, therefore Alhassan’s wins cannot also. A knockout win over Irishman Charlie Ward in his UFC debut and unbeaten success in Bellator and Legacy FC prior can add further notoriety.
Even his sole career loss even adds credibility in the fact Omari Akhmedov has gone unbeaten in six fights since and is scheduled to fight former middleweight champion Chris Weidman next. Alhassan lost the contest by split decision three years ago, with many believing the Ghanaian deserved his hand raised.
His opponent for the event on July 15th is promotional newcomer Mounir Lazzez, who stands at a similar record of 9-1, with several coming by knockout. Although unknown to the UFC fanbase, the possibility to secure another notable finish for the first time in nearly two years is most significant.
Ultimately, and with a professional record of 10-1, Alhassan can become a serious contender at welterweight and fast. His level of ferociousness and activity means a swift excursion to the top of the division is possible and Yas Island can be the beginning after a long period away.