For two up-and-coming prospects, adding a CFFC belt to their collection could be a massive career boost.
Canada’s Christien Savoie (8-0) will head into enemy territory to take on Bassil Hafez (5-1-1) in the main event of CFFC 89 with the CFFC welterweight title on the line in Philadelphia, Pa. on Thursday night.
After missing out on a Contender Series opportunity he was hoping for this year, Savoie, 28, said he views this main event title fight as the perfect opportunity to punch his ticket to the UFC.
“I think this was the best case scenario, outside of Contender Series. In a sense, I almost like it more because I get to win a belt,” said Savoie in an interview with MMA Empire.
“If I win this fight impressively, I think I get my shot. I think that’s what’s on the line here.”
Despite being more of a regular in the CFFC cage, this will be Hafez’s first main event and first five-round title fight of his career.
Hafez, 28, said a win over Savoie, plus the CFFC welterweight title, will give him a big boost up the ranks towards signing with one of the bigger promotions in the sport.
“A win over Christien, with him being 8-0, is definitely a good thing to have on my resume, and I definitely think it catapults me up there a little bit,” said Hafez in an interview with MMA Empire.
“When I get this win, I would love to go right away to a larger promotion. My goal is to fight and win, and keep on fighting. I definitely believe it’ll catapult me up there, but number one thing ahead is winning this fight, and see what opportunity comes from there.”
Savoie collecting straps
Savoie will be looking to add a third belt to his collection Thursday night, having already claimed the Elite 1 MMA welterweight and middleweight titles.
Savoie said adding a prestigious CFFC title to his collection would be a perfect sendoff to the UFC for him.
“It’ll mean a lot. Just to win another belt before I head to the UFC is cool. I like winning belts,” said Savoie.
“Considering all the adversity I’ve been through the last couple months just trying to get fights and the whole coronavirus thing, this will mean more to me than any other fight I think.”
Even dating back to his amateur career, this will be Savoie’s first time fighting outside of Atlantic Canada.
Savoie said he’s excited to finally get to experience fighting away from home, and said it already feels much less stressful than fulfilling the hometown role.
“It’s good timing in my life. Maybe fighting outside of my region would’ve been a little overwhelming a couple years ago, but now I just feel ready,” said Savoie.
“I feel like it’s less pressure knowing everything is kind of out of my control. It kind of puts things at ease for me, as far as organizing things on fight week. I’m looking forward to fighting someone else in their hometown.”
With all five of his career finishes coming by way of knockout or TKO, Savoie has put himself on the map as a dangerous striker.
And while his striking has proven to be a dangerous weapon of his, Savoie said he goes into every fight with the mindset that he’s better everywhere.
“I try not to go into any fights with the mindset that I’m not better than this guy anywhere,” said Savoie.
“Unless I’m fighting someone like Demian Maia or someone who’s a real specialist, when it comes to MMA, I think I’m high-level everywhere and I don’t want to give him any advantage. I think I can win this fight everywhere it goes.”
Hafez prepared for seven rounds
This will be Hafez’s first five-round title fight of his professional career, having fought previously in a three-round title fight for Maverick MMA.
With the training he does on a regular basis, Hafez said he’s more than prepared if the fight reaches the championship rounds Thursday night.
“I’m excited for it. I train for six or seven rounds. You have to overtrain to make sure your lungs are open and you can be in that top shape, so if it goes that five rounds, I’m not just going five rounds to survive. I’m going five rounds, and that fifth round is going to be a strong round as well,” said Hafez.
“I feel very good with my cardio and I’m in some of the best shape I’ve been in.”
Calling Philadelphia home and having fought five times under the CFFC banner already, Hafez said this opportunity hits home for him.
Although it won’t be in front of a sold out arena, Hafez said winning the CFFC title in his hometown would mean a lot to him.
“I used to fight for CFFC awhile back and never got the shot at a title opportunity, but now it’s finally coming and it’ll be a great feeling,” said Hafez.
“The overall goal is to get to the UFC and win a belt there, but this will definitely be the next biggest step on my goal list, and I’m looking forward to whatever comes after that.”
Before he can wrap the CFFC title around his waist, Hafez must get through the toughest test of his career in Savoie.
Hafez said he knows Savoie will provide a stiff challenge and be tough to finish, but he expects to come away victorious in dominant fashion.
“He’s got decent stand-up, decent ground game, and he’s a tough fighter. He’s 8-0 for a reason,” said Hafez.
“My goal is to go in there, beat him, finish him, and win that belt. I plan on doing that in dominating fashion.”
“I want to thank my team, all my coaches, my training partners, everyone else helping me prepare for this fight, my strength and conditioning coach (Eddie Hall), Algeo MMA, 302 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and my sponsors (Performance Meal Prep, Cafe La Maude, KassCon, RP – Renaissance Periodization, Blade & Badger Barbershop, Craig Bohn for massage therapy, CJ Hunt, Dependable Solutions, Leonard & Altieri, Turnersville Family Dentistry, Atom Olson Fitness, Spartan Gym, ScuBees, Sneakpeak Screen Printing, Place of Peace, and First Round Management.” Follow Hafez on social media: FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM