Wednesday February 13, 2013
Chance for local lads to compete in mixed martial arts championship
By ALLAN KOAY
A new mixed martial arts amateur tryout is set to discover new talents in the sport.
IT was a watershed moment for the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) in Malaysia: a crowd of reportedly 11,000 people cheering wildly at the One FC: Return of Warriors event last weekend.
What a difference it was from the June 2012 event, when One Fighting Championship first came to Malaysia to stage Destiny of Warriors at Stadium Negara – the 8,000-seat venue was far from packed and the crowd ... less than responsive.
On Feb 2 though, the crowd was raising the roof of Stadium Putra at Bukit Jalil, going especially wild when Malaysian and Malaysia-based fighters such as Melvin “Overkill” Yeoh, Peter Davis, Adam “Shogun” Kayoom, Saiful “The Vampire” Merican and AJ “Pyro” Lias Mansor took to the octagonal cage to battle for victory. It was a night that would have inspired the most sceptical naysayer to agree that, yes, MMA has finally arrived on our shores.
While there’s now no gainsaying the sport’s popularity, what MMA has been suffering from has been the lack of an avenue for new fighters to try out their skills and work their way into the professional circuit. There is, of course, the F3 Fighting Championship in Kuala Lumpur, and Ultimate Beatdown in Johor Baru, and both have been doing a great job promoting Malaysian fighters.
But now Tune Talk is getting into the game as well, with the Malaysian Invasion Mixed Martial Arts (Mimma) Fighting Championship, an amateur championship open to all Malaysians 18 and above, which was launched last Wednesday. Mimma will also be a reality show in the vein of MyTeam, the popular football talent search.
Mimma was created by Tune Talk CEO Jason Lo and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, both of whom are big fans of MMA.
“One night we were sitting down and, because Tune Talk was sponsoring One FC, we thought we could do a local thing,” said Lo when met at the launch in Kuala Lumpur. “We had not done anything since MyTeam, the last time we did a reality programme. So we thought we would do MyTeam for MMA. And that’s how the idea was born.”
A two-day preliminary tryout will be held at Paradigm Mall in Petaling Jaya on Feb 23 and 24. Anyone can walk in and sign up. Participants will be given medical check-ups to see if they are fit enough.
The fights will be in seven different weight categories: flyweight (up to 56.7kg), bantamweight (up to 61.2kg), featherweight (65.8kg), lightweight (70.3kg), welterweight (up to 77.1kg), middleweight (up to 83.9kg) and light heavyweight (up to 93kg).
From there, 112 fighters will proceed to the ladder match round to be held on March 23 and 24, to be followed by the quarterfinals on April 20 and 21 and semifinals on May 18. A champion for each weight class will then be crowned at the June 15 grand finals. There will be cash prizes totalling RM150,000.
Lo says the plan for Mimma is long-term. When asked if Mimma will one day progress beyond just amateur tryouts and perhaps become something like the Universal Reality Combat Championship of the Philippines, Lo replied: “Possibly. A lot of us are waiting to see how many fighters will show up, what the response will be. If there are a lot fighters, I think it would be good for us to consider going on to the next level.”
As for the reality show, Lo said: “We’re going to follow all the fighters, and we’re going to see them back home, see what their lives are like, do the same thing as MyTeam, which was the highest rated (local) reality show in 2004. This will be just as exciting.”
The current crop of professional fighters seem excited about the idea.
Yeoh, a schoolteacher by day, is excited about Mimma, and thinks it will be good for the sport in Malaysia. Yeoh, who runs the Ultimate MMA Academy in Johor Baru and also co-organises Ultimate Beatdown, said: “It’s good for the younger generation who want to get into the sport and become professional fighters. I have a lot of students, and I had to create Ultimate Beatdown just to have a platform for my students to fight. So I think (Tune Talk) is doing a good job and I can send my students to take part in Mimma if they are above 18.”
Saiful, meanwhile, believes Mimma will inspire young people to take up MMA, show their talent and learn discipline. “Then they won’t go out and misbehave,” he said. “Mimma has opened the way now for them to have a goal to aspire to.
“Before One FC, the sport was still new to Malaysians. But since One FC has introduced the sport here and promoted it, more people are exposed to it. MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and it’s in our nature as human beings that we love to watch people fight.”
Adam, one of the brightest stars of Malaysian MMA who beat Gregor Gracie at Destiny of Warriors last year, is glad that there is finally an avenue for aspiring fighters in this country. “I’ve been fighting overseas for a long time now, and it’s really nice to come back home and see this,” he said. “It’s a breath of fresh air. Malaysia’s got talent, you just have to tap into it.”
Asked what advice he would give to those wanting to fight their way into the professional circuit, Adam, the gentleman fighter who always shows great respect for his opponents, replied: “Stay humble. I don’t care how good you get, there will always be someone bigger, better and stronger than you.”
For more information or to sign up for Mimma FC, go to malaysianinvasion.com.