Known by many as the guy who suffered a nasty arm injury after refusing to submit to Steve Cantwell at a UFC Fight for the Troops event in 2008, there is a lot more to Razak Al-Hassan than the moment including four finishes since parting ways with the promotion and a controversial decision loss that even surprised his opponent. Al-Hassan’s latest challenge comes tonight at “MMA Fight Pit: Genesis” where he’ll face heavy-handed striker Houston Alexander as part of the organization’s inaugural show.
“Razor” Razak recently sat down with Five Ounces of Pain and discussed a number of topics including why he didn’t tap to Cantwell, whether he feels Alexander is the most dangerous stand-up artist he’s faced thus far, and how his heritage has affected his MMA career.
Born to parents from Ghana, Al-Hassan is the first person in his family to hail from the United States – a fact he’s proud of that has helped mold him as both a fighter and man.
“The culture there is definitely different,” Al-Hassan said of his parents’ home-country. “I know exactly where I’m from, I’ve seen my roots and everything. I’m definitely not trying to portray myself as some thug or something like that.”
“MMA wasn’t even a viable sport there. I didn’t get into Mixed Martial Arts until 2005 with the first Ultimate Fighter, so I probably wouldn’t have even known what MMA was,” he continued when asked how different his life might have been without his family’s decision to move to America.
Fortunately his experiences here have all been positive too in terms of being a fighter with a traditional Ghanese name competing in a sport where alcohol is readily available for fans who, like in any sport, aren’t always the most enlightened individuals.
“I’ve fought all over, small shows and big shows, and I’ve never really had a problem with any of the crowds.”
In regards to his “highlight reel” performance in the UFC, Al-Hassan actually explained he was not out to prove a point or show how tough he was by enduring an injury rather than give up.
“It wasn’t like I was consciously trying not to tap out, to look like a bad-ass or anything. I was just so focused on the moment and trying to do the best I could and before I knew it my elbow popped,” the 29-year old revealed. “All of the sudden the ref jumped in and I was like, ‘Uhhh…why did you stop the fight?’ I was so focused, so in the moment, that I didn’t feel anything. Then once I walked into the locker room my arm started bothering me.”
After healing up, Al-Hassan lost by Split Decision in his follow-up fight the next year and was cut from the roster. Less than twelve months later he found in-ring success four straight times with a quartet of finishes to boot. However, last November he found himself on the wrong end of the judges’ scorecards at MFC 27 despite having won in the eyes of most viewers…including those of his adversary that evening.
“Even the opponent I faced, Dwayne Lewis, came up to me afterwards and said he thought I won the fight. I don’t know what the judges were watching.”
Still, Al-Hassan has maintained a positive attitude about the situation even after seeing a February fight go out the window due to injury.
“I’ve tried to look at it like a blessing. It gave me more time to work on my Jiu-Jitsu skills, to work on everything,” Al-Hassan stated before adding his excitement about finally getting back in the cage after a nine-month break from action. ”I’m definitely pumped and Houston is a big name who can put me back up there. I’m super-stoked.”
In terms of opponent’s striking this evening, though the Roufusport product respects Alexander’s ability his answer when asked about the danger posed by the slugger’s stand-up might surprise a few folks, saying, “You know what, actually, no I don’t. I mean yeah, everyone knows what he’s good at and he’s powerful but I definitely feel I’ve faced guys who are more dangerous match-ups for me while standing than Houston is.”
“I’m comfortable in my stand-up so I’m not going to be pressing for takedowns. I’m a more technical, more sound striker than he is so I feel pretty good in all phases of the fight whereas he’s only comfortable in one phase,” he continued. “I definitely want to put on a good performance since it’s MMA Fight Pit’s first show but there’s no pressure. I’ve been a competitor my whole life so that’s why I got into this sport in the first place. I wanted to know how good I really was. I’m just really excited to be competing against a guy with Houston’s name and I can’t wait to face an opponent like him.”
In closing, always humble, Al-Hassan thanked those who have helped support him throughout his journey in MMA including Suckerpunch Entertainment and the Rebel Alliance Fight Team, while promising fireworks tonight in the ring.
Al-Hassan holds an overall record of 11-3 with ten stoppages including seven submissions. Fans can catch his fight with Alexander on PPV starting at 9:00 PM EST and learn more him and his approach to life through both Facebook and Twitter.