Sabah Homasi learned a lot of hard lessons during his short stint in the UFC, but those experiences made him the must-see fighter he is today.
Homasi faces Brennan Ward on Saturday at Bellator 290, which takes place at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The welterweight tilt serves as the first Bellator fight to take place on CBS network television.
The 34-year-old went winless in three fights inside the UFC’s octagon between August 2016 and January 2018 before being released. Now getting ready to compete for the eighth straight time in Bellator, Homasi has seen the difference in not only himself as a fighter, but also between life as a Bellator fighter compared to a UFC fighter.
“I always knew I had the skill set, but it was always a mental challenge for me,” Homasi told MMA Fighting. “Under those bright lights, it would just be different. Now, I’ve become one with that. I know how to handle the stress and the pressures going into it. Mentally, I think everyone matures in that way at different times. I know fighters, or athletes in general, everyone blooms at a different time. Everyone has their own clock.
“There’s no quit in me. My record isn’t perfect, I have blemishes, a lot of them on my record. I’m 17-10. But goddamnit, have I learned from every one of those losses? Have I grown from them? Absolutely. And with the people that I train with, there’s no way that you’re not going to grow. At American Top Team, all you have to do is f****** show up. Just show up, put in the work, and you’re going to get better.
“I don’t know when the turning point was, but the f****** light just turned on, but it was sometime after that s*** run in the UFC. And now, those fighters in the UFC, I can hang with every one of those motherf******, but the pay between Bellator and the UFC is significantly different.
“I thought, ‘Holy s***, I’m released from the UFC’ — and I worked 10 years to get that f****** point. I finally get there, had a s*** run. But those were learning points for me. I made mistakes, and they will never happen again.”
Homasi is obviously thrilled at the reaction from fans every time he’s booked to compete, and that has given him a bit of a boost at this stage in his career. He certainly as aspirations of being more than just the action fighter, but he is more than happy to let the chips fall where they may.
“I take it one fight at a time, I need to see what is in front of me,” Homasi said. “There’s no talk about top-five opponents, or titles, or anything else unless I secure this ‘W’ on Saturday. If a title shot is meant to be, it will come. I just need to take care of what’s in front of me, and I just want to improve, because you can’t stop learning in this game. Every day you f****** learn something.”
Like Homasi, Ward enters Saturday’s bout on the heels of back-to-back finish wins. After a nearly five-year layoff, he returned to competition in 2022 where he picked up stoppages of Brandon Bell and Kassius Kane.
Homasi knocked out Maycon Mendonca in 58 seconds in his most recent outing at Bellator 282, and he is expecting an all-out battle when he meets Ward in a historic bout for the promotion.
“It’s going to be a banger,” Homasi predicts. “I just need to go in there with my head on straight and I’ll come out with my hand raised, and another ‘W’ on my record. We’ve been trying to make it happen, and it finally did. I’m just glad this fight came to fruition.
“But ‘The Big Sabowski’ is going to win in f****** spectacular fashion.”