My favorite story of the week is Philly native Bassil Hafez making his UFC debut on short notice against #14 ranked welterweight Jack Della Maddalena, a rising star in the sport.

Bassil went the distance with JDM, losing a tough split decision but picking up a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus for his part in delivering the best bout on the card.

He was nice enough to join us on Crossing Broadcast Thursday, and explained the process of cutting weight with less than a week of prep time:

Bassil was given a four-fight UFC deal when he took the JDM fight, so we’ll see him in the UFC again.

He was born and raised in Philly, the son of immigrant parents from Egypt and Syria. He told us he’s lived in both the city and Delco, but moved out to Denver two years ago to train with the Elevation Fight Team, a gym that includes UFC veterans like Cory Sandhagen and Drew Dober.

Hafez fights at 170 pounds, but told us he typically goes into a months-long camp around 200 pounds, so he has time to gradually cut and reach the 171 welterweight limit. In this case, the amount of weight he had to shed in a short amount of time resulted in complications on the back end.

“My weight cut was so bad that I was in the ER the night of the fight,” he explained. “I went to go get my brain checked to make sure I didn’t get a concussion, and I got a CAT scan and they’re telling me ‘your brain is fine,’ but I guess the weight cut was so bad that I had air around my esophagus and my heart and my lungs on the outside, where it’s not supposed to be. That can lead to pressure, and a heart attack or stroke. My weight cut was so bad that even going into the fight my chest was sore and my lungs, it hurt to breathe. I had a sore esophagus. People could hear it in my voice. That’s how much it meant to me and how much the weight cut affected me going into the fight, but I still went out there, and even dead tired, standing right in front with my hands down, he’s throwing everything he has at me, the kitchen sink, and I’m still standing there. Another week and I believe I would have made it more decisive.”

The good thing is that he’s solidified his UFC spot, at least for now, and will presumably have a much more regular routine going into his next bout.

“A lot of people don’t know this, but for the most part, when they sign you short notice for the opportunity, they give you a multi-fight deal,” Hafez said. “Three or four fights. I got a four fight deal. I’m happy about that, hopefully not going to be with the UFC for just four fights, but (this is) just the beginning. But yeah, it’s a four-fight deal. If you show up, you miss weight, then you go out there and underperform, it’s a bit unprofessional. They have the ability to cut you, and they have cut guys who have done that. But I showed up, did my job, made weight on four days’ notice, which was really tough for me personally, and I didn’t have a (training) camp but went out there and put my heart and soul in the cage and left it all out there.”

Bassil has a really intriguing background. Classic American success story. In the full interview, he details how he lost both of his parents to cancer and talks about the motivation that provided him. We also talk four for four Philly sports and why Madden 04 was the best game of the series.

header image from Bassil’s Instagram