On June 30th, ONE Championship will have another fighter making his debut: Kevin Chung, a 4-0 BJJ purple belt.
The Northern Virginia native first took taekwondo as his first martial arts, inspired by his father who himself once owned a taekwondo gym in Korea.
“Seeing his pictures growing up initially helped generate my initial interest [in martial arts],” said Chung.
Chung later added wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into his repertoire to transition into MMA, he had his first amateur MMA fight in 2010 at the age of 17 where he sports a 4-1 amateur record.
Unlike many professional fighters that turn to professional fight out of need, Chung’s decision to turn pro in 2015 mostly driven by his passion for martial arts.
“Seeing my peers successfully transition to adulthood with 9-to-5 desk jobs gave me social burdens, which were not easy. However, I have no regrets! I am not ruling out a professional occupation outside of MMA later in my life, but I am taking it one day at a time for now.”
“In short, I loved every aspect of the sport. As a young teen, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu taught me much about not only myself, but how to observe others around me. BJJ and MMA are two sports that not only demand a certain lifestyle, but show who you are in the purest form – fighting. The secret to success in these sports are very simple. You check your ego at the door, strive to improve, and continue to test yourself. Those who can’t handle this turn out to be crappy fighters. I loved this so much that as the years passed, continued my martial arts journey.”
After 3 wins on the professional circuit, the BJJ purple belt decided that the best course of action to take his career to the next stage is to ONE Championship, and that opportunity came when ONE Championship opened several tryout sessions in 2016, which Chung flew halfway around the world to attend the tryout session in Thailand in May 2016 before signing up with the promotion in February 2017.
“My fights here in the States were always electrifying and I think they appreciated that.”
“I have plans to live in Asia again in the future, which was why I aimed to fight for one of the biggest world promotions in ONE. Smaller promotions outside of the UFC take your location, camp, and record into heavier consideration when offering a bout. It is a business, at the end of the day, and ONE Championship offered me a chance to showcase my skills.”
4 months after his signing, Chung will face Zhong Qingya, who last fought in Jakarta against Liu Jun on January 2017 as an alternate in the Bantamweight Tournament. Zhong won the fight in 53 seconds with a rear naked choke, but that does not deter him a little bit.
“At this point in my career, I care less about who I fight and more about how I will finish them.”
Photo Credit: Felix Falcon with mmainva.com
Highest Ranked Strawweight Outside of the UFC challenged Angela Lee to a title fight in One Championship
28 Years Old, Zhang Weili(16-1) from China has challenged Strawweight champion Angela Lee for her strap in One Championship according to a source close to the Chinese fighter. Zhang who is the champion and fighting for Chinese based promotion Kunlun FC is currently negotiating on a one fight deal to face Angela. According to the source, they would like to determine who is the best women fighter in Asia in a one-off match and would have no problems to fight under the One Championship banner.
Since her pro debut loss in 2013, Zhang has racked up 16 wins in 3 years with a total of 15 finishes. She is the number #6 ranked women strawweight in the World according to Fightmatrix.com, just behind Rose Namajunas who will be facing UFC champion and number #1 ranked strawweight Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the title next month. Angela, on the other hand, is 9 rungs below Zhang at number 15.
While ONE was very eager to have a cross-promotion fight between Angela Lee and Joanna Jedrzejczyk to determine who has the better strawweight, they seem less eager to have a Kunlun FC champion on board for a one fight deal. The source states that ONE would need for Zhang to sign a 2-year exclusive contract first before discussing further for a fight with Angela.
If the source is accurate, ONE seems to be covering their bases this time and would not like for their champion to lose the belt to another promotion without securing Zhang on an exclusive contract. Kunlun, on the other hand, would also not want to lose their best fighter to another Asian promotion. Zhang would be a huge asset to ONE for their expansion in China but it would be tough for them to pry off the Chinese fighter as the source states that Zhang is being paid handsomely on Kunlun FC.
While things are looking bleak for a match between Angela Lee and Zhang Weili to happen in the ONE Championship cage, the fans will be keeping their fingers crossed and hope that they could witness a fight between two of the best women Strawweights in Asia.
Martin Nguyen to challenge Eduard Folayang’s title in Manila for the first champion vs champion fight in ONE Championship
After speculations on who Martin Nguyen’s next opponent when he signed a fight contract, ONE Championship have confirmed that Martin Nguyen is set to challenge Eduard Folayang’s lightweight title in Manila on ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD on 10 November.
The fight is the latest in a series of cross-division fights announced after Shinya Aoki vs Ben Askren and Aung La NSang vs Alain Ngalani, but this will be the first time the reigning ONE Championship titleholders from two weight divisions will clash.
Nguyen’s coach, Fari Salievski, did tease on the idea of Nguyen fighting for the title in different weight divisions , but he teased on a bantamweight division since Martin was underweight for his featherweight title fight against Marat Gafurov.
Despite being on the lighter side of a featherweight division, the new champion decided to challenge the title against a fighter a weight class above him, and opens the possibility of the first fighter in ONE Championship to challenge the title in 3 weight divisions.
“I’m not out only to make a statement, but to go down in history as the best to ever compete under the ONE Championship banner” – Martin Nguyen
ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD will be held in Malls of Asia Arena in Manila on 10 November 2017
Bashir Ahmad embraces new role in ONE Championship
Bashir Ahmad is appointed as the Senior Manager of Industry Partnerships, the role made to develop and strengthen the relationships between ONE Championship and various MMA gyms and promotions.
“Essentially, I see myself doing what I did in Pakistan and working to accelerate the growth of MMA in Asia with other players in the MMA scene,” Ahmad explained.
As the pioneer of Pakistani MMA, Bashir Ahmad has worked to promote MMA in Pakistan, most notably the Shaheen Gym project, a non-profit gym which serves to take at-risk youth off the street with the appeal and focus of MMA. With his new position in ONE, Ahmad believes he will be better positioned to develop MMA in Asia, particularly in his hometown Pakistan.
“I think it’s a win-win. I’ve learned about developing MMA in a really difficult market – Pakistan, and I bring that experience with me.”
“On the flip side, I get work with one of the world’s most professional martial arts brands and bring those lessons to my mission in Pakistan.”
4-3 on his professional MMA career, Ahmad has been fighting for ONE Championship since April 2013 and became the first ONE Championship athlete to make the transition from into the management role in the promotion. Despite this additional role, Ahmad is adamant that his new role in ONE Championship does not take him away from active competition.
“100% not retired. I can certainly train. If Martin can beat Gafurov while being a full-time mechanic, I can certainly train when I work in the MMA industry for a living. It’s about time management and training smart.”
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