While Sabah Homasi only spent the first decade of his life in East Brunswick, he has vivid memories of growing up in the Garden State.
He and his friends from the neighborhood turned the street he lived on – Noel Lane – into their own athletic field, whether it was a baseball diamond, soccer pitch or basketball court.
“We played everything,” Homasi recalled via phone Tuesday.
So at the age of 10, when his family left New Jersey for the pleasant confines of the Sunshine State, Homasi was crushed.
“My best friends growing up lived right across the street, so I was devastated,” Homasi said. “Once I got down there and made new friends – and the weather was fantastic – it was good.”
The New Brunswick-born Homasi will be in Detroit on Saturday, competing for the Ultimate Fighting Championship in a preliminary bout on the UFC 218 event in the Motor City. Homasi’s welterweight match against Abdul Razak Alhassan (7-1) will stream on the UFC Fight Pass service at 6:15 p.m.
Additional prelim bouts are on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. and the pay-per-view goes live at 10 p.m. The main event will see featherweight champion Max Holloway defending against Jose Aldo in a title match that was originally supposed to go to Toms River’s Frankie Edgar, but a fractured orbital bone sidelined “The Answer.”
For Homasi (11-6), his second bout in the UFC is a homecoming. After adjusting to life in Florida, Homasi’s family was once again on the move – this time to Detroit when he was a freshman in high school.
While it was another awkward time to make new friends, it did put Homasi on the path to the Octagon.
A substitute teacher turned on the television during a senior year computer class, leading to Homasi seeing an advertisement for an Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin pay-per-view event. Homasi was captivated.
“Me and my buddies went over to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the fight and I thought this was the coolest sport ever,” Homasi said.
As fate would have it, there was a mixed martial arts gym a few blocks away from his father’s pizzeria in Detroit, where Homasi was working after school.
“I signed up and it took off from there,” he said.
Now Homasi – who trains with American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla. – is back in Detroit, looking to earn his first victory in the UFC. And he’ll try to do so with the backing of countless well-wishers planning to be in attendance.
“My phone just keeps going off,” Homasi laughed.
“I’ve got a lot of friends and family here. I’m just excited to put on a show.”