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Sherdog Prospect Watch: Youcef Ouabbas


Youcef Ouabbas has what every prizefighter wants: the ability to control his own destiny.

An undefeated Frenchman of Algerian descent, the 26-year-old will draw his most difficult assignment to date when he makes his Professional Fighters League debut opposite Mohammad Alaqraa in a PFL MENA 2 welterweight quarterfinal this Friday at The Green Halls in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The eventual tournament winner—Jarrah Al-Silawi, Rayan Atmani, Badreddine Diani, Amir Fazli, Omar El Dafrawy and Anthony Zeidan comprise the rest of the eight-man Middle East and North Africa field at 170 pounds—earns a $100,000 end-of-season prize, a championship belt and a chance to earn a spot on the PFL’s domestic roster.

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Ouabbas operates out of the Kongo Smashin’ Club camp in Colombes, France, where he trains alongside former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Djati Melan and onetime Bellator MMA title challenger Cheick Kongo. A two-time national grappling champion, he heads into his first PFL outing as a virtual unknown due mostly to inactivity.

While he has fought only three times since he turned pro in 2018, Oubbas has impressed whenever he has suited up. He last appeared at Bellator 280, where he put away Matthieu Letho Duclos with punches in the first round of their May 6, 2022 encounter at Accor Arena in Paris. Oubbas brought it to a close 4:17 into Round 1, putting his skills and resilience to use. Duclos had him on his heels at one point through sheer horsepower and aggression. However, a crippling overhand right from Oubbas altered the direction of the bout in an instant and set his countryman on unsteady footing. Duclos fired back but never recovered. Follow-up punches from Oubbas had him stumbling all over the cage and prompted referee Bryan Miner to call for a standing stoppage.

Lack of activity since—nearly 800 days have passed—may be a reasonable concern, but Ouabbas figures to have made marked improvements in the gym during that time. He returns to the cage with little outside pressure on him, as much of the pre-fight attention has understandably gone to Alaqraa. The American Kickboxing Academy product trains under Javier Mendez and former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight titleholder Khabib Nurmagomedov. The 24-year-old Kuwaiti owns a perfect 5-0 record, with four of those victories having been recorded in the UAE Warriors promotion.

“When you train with monsters, you’re going to be a monster, but when you train with sheep, you’re going to be a sheep,” Alaqraa told the Qatar Tribune. “The more you train with good guys, the more they’ll help you improve and reach the next level. These guys I train with now, like AKA, are the best in the world. They have champions from everywhere: the past, present and future. They helped me fix my weaknesses, improve my strengths and sharpen my arsenal.”
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