Iranian MMA Fighter Wants to Break the Ultimate Taboo: Fighting an Israeli

'Fighters can compete despite cultural, religious and political differences,' says Reza Madadi, who will compete against Moshe Ben-Shimol in Stockholm

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Iranian-born MMa athlete Reza Madadi.
Iranian-born MMa athlete Reza Madadi.

Reza Madadi, an Iranian-born mixed martial arts fighter who lives in Sweden, announced that he plans to "break the taboo" with an unofficial exhibition match against Israeli MMA fighter Moshe Ben-Shimol in November.

Madadi retired from professional competitions in May to concentrate on coaching, but has decided to return and face Ben-Shimol in Stolkholm.

Madadi said his comeback was inspired by Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei. Mollaei ignored orders from Iran to withdraw from the World Judo Championships in Japan earlier this year.

Iran ordered him to withdraw from the competition to avoid a bout with Israeli judoka Sagi Muki, who won the competition. Mollaei defected to Germany after the championship and went public with the circumstances leading to his withdrawal.

Madadi, who won 14 matches and lost six in mixed martial arts Ultimate Fighting Championship competitions, said that he also cannot return to his native country. "[The competition] in Stockholm is going to have an important message -- religion and politics should not interfere with sports," the MMA fighter said.

BBC reported that Madadi's match against Ben Shimol would not be held under Ultimate Fighting Championship auspices, but Madadi said that the outcome of the match is not at all relevant.

"The reason I am returning is to show the world that two professional athletes can compete with each other despite cultural, religious and political differences - and then leave the gym like two friends," he was quoted by the BBC as saying.

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