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Thread: Song Yadong

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Song Yadong

    This looks promising.

    MMA: From Shaolin temple to MMA star - meet China's 'Monkey King'

    MMA star Song Yadong has recently replaced "The Terminator" as his fight name with "The Monkey King", in reference to the mythical Chinese hero Sun Wukong.PHOTO: AFP

    PUBLISHED NOV 23, 2018, 5:23 PM SGT

    BEIJING (AFP) - Song Yadong was so obsessed with Chinese martial arts that he convinced him mother to pack him up and send him off to learn at the feet of the famous kung fu masters of Shaolin.

    He was just nine years old at the time.

    "I had watched a lot of kung fu movies, so I wanted to be like my heroes, like Jet Li," said Song. "I went to Shaolin and I trained, getting up each day at 5am. It was harder than I ever expected."

    A decade later and Song's thirst for action has led him into the ranks of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and on to the biggest stage in mixed martial arts.

    "I left Shaolin after two years and then I learned about MMA," said the 20-year-old. "I like the action, I like the fact every fight tests you and that you always have to work to be the best fighter you can be."

    Song is at the forefront of the Las Vegas-based promotion's push into China, the country many consider the spiritual home of all martial arts, and the Tianjin-born fighter is among nine locals set to take part in the UFC's first fight card to be held in the Chinese capital.

    Saturday (Nov 24) night sees the UFC Fight Night 141 event at Beijing's Cadillac Arena headlined by a blockbuster bout between heavyweight contenders Cameroonian-Frenchman Francis "The Predator" Ngannou (11-3) and American Curtis "Razor" Blaydes.

    But there is little doubt where Chinese fans' attention - and hopes - will rest.

    "It will be the biggest chance for us Chinese fighters and for the sport to grow in China," said Song, who will face American Vince "Vandetta" Morales on Saturday night.

    Song's rise to the UFC has captured China's attention, as has the origin story he carries with him.

    When he was 15, Song was so focused on becoming a professional MMA fighter that he used a forged ID card to convince local promotions that he was 18, and legally allowed to fight.

    "I was super-aggressive back then," said Song. "I just wanted to fight so I used the fake ID. I looked strong enough so they believed me."

    After plying his trade in domestic and regional fight promotions - and racking up a fight record of 10 wins and three losses - Song received a surprise call last November, just weeks before the UFC was set to make its debut in mainland China.

    Called in to replace an injured fighter on the UFC Fight Night 122 card, Song needed just over four minutes to choke out India's Bharat Khandare. He has since backed up that performance with a second-round knockout of the Brazilian veteran Filipe Arantes in Singapore in June, and so comes to Beijing on a 2-0 run and with a 12-3 win-loss record overall.

    "There is still a lot of room for improvement in my skills," said Song. "I am focused on winning step by step, fight by fight. I have been training with (UFC Hall of Famer) Urijah Faber and his Team Alpha Male in California and I am learning.

    "Chinese fighters need more experience but soon we will be a force."

    The UFC currently has 11 Chinese fighters on its books, a mix of established stars such as the veteran welterweight Li "The Leech" Jingliang and rising stars such as Song and female strawweight Zhang Weili, with all three in action on Saturday.

    This week the organisation announced an investment of around US$13 million (S$17.8 million) in what it called the world's biggest MMA academy in Shanghai, designed to help Chinese fighters make the transition from smaller fight promotions to the UFC octagon.

    Song has recently replaced "The Terminator" as his fight name with "The Monkey King", in reference to the mythical Chinese hero Sun Wukong.

    He believes China's rich history in martial arts has the country - and its fighters - well positioned as MMA continues to take hold.

    "We have the history in China," said Song. "This is only the beginning."
    Shaolin in the Ring and Cage
    China MMA
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.


    I know he's just got two posts as of this one, but I'm giving Song Yadong is own thread beyond just Shaolin in the Ring and Cage & China MMA. I'm also copying this to our Monkey King thread for cross-ref.

    UFC 239: China’s Song Yadong – inspired by Jet Li and the Monkey King – is out to conquer the world

    The 21-year-old Chinese phenom blows veteran fighter away in Las Vegas and sets his sights on UFC Shenzhen
    ‘Kung Fu Monkey’ trained outside Shaolin Temple as a child before turning up at Team Alpha Male – and Hall of Famer Urijah Faber is his biggest fan
    Mathew Scott
    Published: 7:59pm, 7 Jul, 2019

    Song Yadong celebrates a win at UFC Singapore. Photo: Handout

    If Alejandro “Turbo” Perez had managed to eye the clock just before his head hit the canvas he might have seen that 2:04 of the first round had elapsed in his bout against Song “Kung Fu Monkey” Yadong.
    What’s more likely, though, is that Mexican’s lights were already out, and that he woke seconds later simply wondering what the hell had hit him.
    Fans across North America were left pondering the very same thing.
    Not much had been known, stateside, about the 21-year-old bantamweight (14-3, two no contests) before Sunday’s heroics at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and a huge right hand ended the night for a Perez who was eight years older and of considerable more experience, in UFC terms at least, at 21-8-1.
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    Hall of Famer Urijah Faber had been preaching from the MMA pulpit ever since Song turned up at his Team Alpha Male gym in Sacramento asking for his skill set to be fine-tuned.
    In Vegas over the past week Faber had been telling all who listened what Song was all about, continuing a sermon that started in Singapore back in June last year, not too long after he’d started working with the Chinese fighter.

    Song Yadong at UFC Shanghai. Photo: Handout

    “All this kid wants to do is learn,” Faber said back then. “You teach him something and he wants to practise again and again. You almost have to force him out of the gym.”
    But Asia – and China in particular – has over the past 18 months taken the rising star from Tianjin to heart, as has the world’s premier promotion as it spreads its reach through the region, and into the Middle Kingdom.
    As the second-youngest fighter on the UFC’s books Song stood smiling, once his arm had been raised and his record in the promotion had been stretched to a 4-0 that now includes two performance of the night bonuses. Song just keeps stepping up.

    “I was practising that punch. My coach made that call for me to train that specific technique,” Yadong said. “I was prepared to fight all three rounds. I didn’t expect to finish the fight so fast. I’m very happy with the win. I want to fight a top 10 opponent next.”
    He’s certainly earned it and the UFC certainly know they’re on to a good thing.
    There’s the Song origin story, for starters.

    Song Yadong poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at the Mandarin Oriental on in Singapore in June 2018. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    So keen was the young Song on finding a career as a fighter that his family agreed to send him to the kung fu schools that line the walls of the famed Shaolin Temple when he was just nine years old. It was a tough life, long hours of training and chores.
    But Song says that it still wasn’t enough. He wanted not so much to train but to fight.
    “I had watched a lot of kung fu movies, so I wanted to be like my heroes, like Jet Li,” Song said last year. “I went to Shaolin and I trained, getting up each day at 5am. It was harder than I ever expected. I left Shaolin after two years and then I learned about MMA. I like the action, I like the fact every fight tests you and that you always have to work to be the best fighter you can be.”

    Song Yadong (right) in action at UFC Singapore. Photo: Handout

    And so the journey shifted to MMA and to a fake ID that had Song inside the MMA cage at the age of 15. He drifted through the regional promotions while still a wide-eyed teen – from One Championship, through Kunlun Fight and Wu Lin Feng. But then came a late call-up as the UFC made its debut in Shanghai in November 2017.
    Little, again, was known about Song until, that is, he demolished India’s Bharat “Daring” Khandare (5-3) and looked for all the world that he was born to fight among the world’s best, despite the fact he was still 19.
    After Sunday’s fight, and after hardly raising a sweat, Song called on the UFC also to throw him back into the fray as part of its Shenzhen card on August 31.

    Song Yadong is now 4-0 in the UFC. Photo: Handout

    That event features a first for China as Zhang “Magnum” Weili (19-1), who faces Brazilian champ Jessica Andrade (20-6) for her strawweight belt and looks to be crowned the first UFC champion from her nation.
    Last month, the UFC opened the doors on its multimillion dollar Performance Institute in Shanghai, with boss Dana White declaring it’ll be a “game-changer” for local fighters.
    Song will no doubt see what’s on offer there, as will his good friend and Team Alpha Male gym pal Liu Pingyuan (13-5), the fellow bantamweight who’s up next for China, against American Jonathan Martinez (10-2) on the UFC Fight Night 155 card in Sacramento on July 13.
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    Chinese fighters are on a 15-6 UFC record since the start of 2018, and Song for one believes things are only just getting started.
    “I will be working towards the belt,” he told the media after Sunday’s win. “I don’t know when it will happen but I’ll be working hard, waiting for the chance to happen.”
    ****, this weekend in Sacto, but I'm already booked for the ITKFA Championships.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    no tats

    The Takedown by Nicolas Atkin
    Has China banned tattoos in MMA? Reports of crackdown on fighters but it’s complicated
    ‘If you have tattoos, they don’t want you competing,’ says Thailand’s Phuket Top Team
    The famed gym claims government has tightened rules for local promoters – but the issue appears to be muddy
    Nicolas Atkin
    Published: 10:12am, 20 Jul, 2019

    Song Yadong’s tattoo on his left leg. The fighter poses (right) before his win against Renato Moicano. Photos: Instagram/@songyadong

    Chinese MMA took a huge step forward with the opening of the state-of-the-art UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai last month. But there were concerns this week it might have taken a strange step backwards.
    Last year, China’s top media regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, decreed that media programmes “should not feature actors with tattoos [or depict] hip hop culture, subculture and dispirited culture”, according to a report in Chinese news outlet Sina.
    This later widened to televised sport, with footballers in China’s three professional leagues told by the Chinese Football Association to cover up tattoos with athletic tape – “no visible ink” was the word from the top.
    The issue has also appeared to touch MMA and other combat sports with rules said to be in place across CCTV and other major state broadcasters.
    “The new bosses of CCTV have introduced laws to stamp out crime, so there’s no bad officials, no bad police and no more bad influencers on society in the media. This includes people with tattoos,” a senior official who works closely with the government told Asian MMA website The Fight Nation.
    Chinese fighters have been able to get away with covering up any tattoos with rash guards or tape, just like their footballing counterparts – but one of the top Muay Thai/MMA crossover gyms in Thailand claimed this week the rules have recently become even stricter.
    “MMA in China has made another strange step … No tattoos allowed,” Phuket Top Team tweeted. “Fighters are having to wear rash guards or tape over tattoos. Promoters are getting bored of that and now just saying NO fighters with tattoos allowed. That sure does take out a large pool of pro fighters.”
    Phuket Top Team claimed the no tattoos rule was “direct from the Chinese government” and combat sport representatives.
    “If you have tattoos, they don’t want you competing in MMA/kick-boxing,Sanda/Muay Thai or boxing in China,” it said. “Combat sports have been BOOMING in China! Now the government has banned tattoos from being streamed or televised.”

    Phuket Top Team
    #phukettopteam welcome @ufc No.5 Ranked featherweight@zabeast_mma 💪🏼
    Sharpening his #muaythai in Thailand at PTT 🇹🇭

    Riding a 13 fight win streak.
    5-0 undefeated in the UFC

    Zabit is a DANGEROUS man inside the Octagon@joerogan @TheFightNation @UFC_Asia @UFCRussia

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    12:38 AM - Jul 16, 2019 · Phuket Top Team
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    Phuket Top Team has several UFC veterans and stars on its roster – featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov and welterweight Zelim Imadaev are both there right now sharpening their Muay Thai skills in camp – so their voice clearly carries some weight.
    The gym claimed that in the past two weeks, every local promotion in China had contacted them asking if they had any tattoo-free fighters, while a few said fighters can have tattoos but only ones small enough to be covered up with patches or wraps. Many Chinese fight promotions are broadcast on state television or streamed within China, such as WLF, Kunlun and Glory of Heroes.
    “This will rapidly decline the fight scene in China. A huge shame for all of the top fighters who were embracing the fight scene there,” Phuket Top Team added in a reply to another tweet. “UFC and One Championship are two major [organisations] that have been hitting the Chinese MMA market. Now they need tattoo-free athletes to fill cards.”

    Jessica Andrade and Zhang Weili (right) will compete in the main event of UFC Shenzhen. Photo: UFC

    Of course, the UFC has a big Shenzhen show coming up on August 31, where Zhang Weili will be the first Chinese fighter to challenge for a UFC title when she takes on Brazilian straw weight champion (and heavily tattooed) Jessica Andrade. The UFC signed a five-year exclusive rights agreement in China with PPTV Sports, the nation’s leading online sports platform, in 2016.
    None of the UFC’s nine other Chinese fighters have been announced for the card yet, though only Song Yadong has tattoos, on his left leg.
    In the only other announced fight for the card, neither New Zealand’s Kai-Kara France nor American Mark De La Rosa have visible tattoos. The Post reached out to UFC China for clarification on the rules – and received no response.
    One Championship told the Post there is no issue with foreign athletes who have tattoos competing on their fight cards in China.
    For Chinese athletes with tattoos, One always asks the fighters to cover them up whenever they do promotional material such as interviews – but not for fights – on Chinese shows.
    Officially, the Chinese government has not sanctioned a law on the matter, however, One said, adding that the rule applies more for football players and less so combat sports, with the reports of new changes to the rule just a rumour.

    Tattooed American fighter Troy Worthen fights against China’s Chen Rui. Photo: One Championship

    China is not the only Asian country, though, that has a problem with tattoos. Japan will host two of the world’s biggest sporting events – the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics – in the next 14 months. World Rugby has warned players and fans to cover their ink later this year, in a bid not to offend their host where body art is associated with criminal gangs.
    Rugby players and fans are one thing but MMA and its followers are a different beast. Tattoos and combat sports go hand in hand, and are a way of life.
    “You can imagine how many of the world’s best fighters they have eliminated from being able to fight in China,” Phuket Top Team tweeted, presuming that the no tattoo rule would also apply to foreign fighters.
    The issue is certainly unclear, and one to keep an eye on.
    China MMA
    Kung Fu (and other Martial Arts) Tattoos
    Song Yadong
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    China rising

    The UFC Stars Kicking Chinese Martial Arts Into a New Era
    The breakout success of Chinese fighters in the Ultimate Fighting Championship is shaking up the country’s martial arts scene.

    Mathew Scott
    Feb 22, 2021 9-min read

    Li Jingliang has spent more than a decade establishing himself as an elite fighter in the world of mixed martial arts, with an explosive style and vice-like choke holds that earned him the nickname “The Leech.” But outside the cage is where the 32-year-old makes his biggest impact.

    “As well as fighting, what I’m trying to do is change the landscape of MMA in China,” Li tells Sixth Tone. “Little by little, step by step, I’m letting people know what I know.”

    Now ranked 12th in his division in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) — the highest rank achieved by a male Chinese athlete in the promotion — the welterweight born in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has emerged as a star with real clout in China.

    The charismatic fighter has acquired millions of followers on social media, appeared on TV talent shows, and even performed with rock bands. And he’s using this platform with one goal in mind: to inspire a new generation of Chinese mixed martial artists.

    What I’m trying to do is change the landscape of MMA in China.
    - Li Jingliang, UFC fighter
    Li’s feeds are filled with training videos explaining MMA and encouraging people to try it out. Each Saturday, he’s in a park near his Beijing home, running free sparring classes for local children.

    “Martial arts is rooted in our culture,” Li says. “I’m giving these kids a basic understanding of martial arts, and of mixed martial arts. I’ve committed myself to this and being seen in public is part of that. It’s spreading the message.”

    Li is part of a rising generation of Chinese fighters reshaping the UFC. They’re not only bringing legions of new fans to the sport, but also forging links between the worlds of MMA and Chinese martial arts that could turn China into a leading producer of fighting talent over the next few years.

    MMA is often considered the world’s fastest-growing sport. Emerging in the early ’90s, it sees fighters compete using a mix of different combat skills, with techniques drawn from the likes of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, wrestling, and muay thai.

    But until relatively recently, MMA and its most famous franchise — the UFC — had barely made a dent in the Chinese market. Despite the country’s rich martial arts history and huge grassroots participation in combat sports, few Chinese fighters had heard of the UFC just a decade ago — let alone aspired to compete in it.

    Zhang Tiequan celebrates after defeating Jason Reinhardt of the USA during their featherweight bout at UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia, Feb. 27, 2011. Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/People Visual

    That’s changing dramatically, however, as a handful of Chinese athletes start to find success in the octagon. The first UFC bout featuring a Chinese fighter came on Feb. 27, 2011, with Zhang Tiequan defeating the American featherweight Jason Reinhardt at UFC 127 in Australia.

    Today, China has 12 fighters competing in the UFC, and it even has its first world champion: Zhang Weili, who claimed the women’s strawweight title in 2019. Like Li, the 30-year-old Zhang — who isn’t related to Zhang Tiequan — sees herself as a role model for young Chinese athletes and encourages them to follow the path she has forged in life through her dedication to martial arts.

    “Years ago, a UFC championship looked far off in the distance for China,” Zhang Weili said ahead of her most recent title defense, an epic split-decision victory over Poland’s Joanna Jędrzejczyk in Las Vegas last March. “Now, we have it, and I hope I can give Chinese fighters more motivation to fight.”

    Zhang Weili’s breakout victories have helped the UFC rapidly emerge as one of China’s most popular sports franchises. In 2020, the promotion’s following on China’s Twitter-like Weibo grew nearly 40% to just under 2.2 million, while on Douyin — China’s version of TikTok — it jumped 157% to 7.1 million, according to figures supplied by the UFC.

    Zhang Weili celebrates following her split-decision victory over Joanna Jedrzejczyk of Poland in their UFC strawweight championship fight during the UFC 248 event in Las Vegas, USA, March 7, 2020. Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/People Visual

    “Chinese fighters are having a huge impact on getting the UFC into the mainstream,” Kevin Chang, senior vice president of the UFC’s Asia-Pacific operation, tells Sixth Tone. “It’s not just Zhang Weili, it’s extending into up-and-coming athletes and our veterans. All of them are trending.”

    As its fan base in China grows, the UFC is increasingly looking to the country to expand its roster of fighters. The promotion itself is investing heavily to develop Chinese talent, opening a $13 million performance institute in Shanghai in 2019, where 40 top young athletes are currently training.

    A number of people inside China’s MMA scene, meanwhile, tell Sixth Tone the UFC’s growing profile is attracting more young athletes to take up the sport. “The Leech” knows firsthand how important this shift could be.

    Now, there’s more attention on MMA than on any other combat sport in China.
    - Li Jingliang, UFC fighter
    As a child growing up in the Xinjiang countryside, Li started off as a wrestler and was even offered a wrestling scholarship by a local sports academy. But watching his first MMA event on television in 2008 “changed everything,” he says, convincing him to move to Beijing and try to make it as a pro fighter.

    “In my generation, if a person said, ‘I want to be an MMA athlete,’ there were a lot of critics — in society, among your family and friends,” Li says. “They just didn’t know what it was. I was very lucky, because my parents supported me … But now, there’s more attention on MMA than on any other combat sport in China.”

    Yi Xiemu is one of the young hopefuls hoping to become China’s next UFC star. The 16-year-old trains at the Enbo Fight Club — a gym in the southwestern city of Chengdu that hosts around 400 fighters, some of them local orphans.

    “I like MMA because it’s so powerful,” says Yi, who grew up in Aba Prefecture, a remote area northwest of Chengdu. “Training is very tiring, but I can persist … I’ve learned that in MMA, you have to continue training, keep fighting no matter what.”

    At Enbo, Yi benefits from training every day with UFC professional Su Mudaerji. The 25-year-old flyweight, currently ranked 14th in his division, has been in the club since he was a boy and now plays an important role mentoring its junior members.

    “I want to show them what’s possible if you work hard enough,” Su, also an Aba Prefecture native, tells Sixth Tone.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
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    continued from previous post

    Su Mudaerji (right) punches Zarrukh Adashev of Uzbekistan during their flyweight bout at the UFC Fight Night event in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 20, 2021. Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

    Zhang Tiequan, China’s first UFC fighter, is also using his experience to welcome a new generation of fighters. Since hanging up his gloves in 2012, the now-42-year-old has become a driving force behind China Top Team —one of the country’s leading MMA gyms. As a coach at the Beijing-based facility, he’s already helped chart the rise of Li, as well as the surging talent Yan Xiaonan, UFC’s third-ranked women’s strawweight.

    Chinese gyms have a natural head start when it comes to training world-class fighters, according to Zhang Tiequan. Unlike in other countries, where fighters normally transition from wrestling or jiu-jitsu to MMA, many Chinese youngsters start out training in kungfu or sanda — a native form of kickboxing that also incorporates wrestling and foot sweep techniques. Zhang followed this route himself, and he believes the wider range of skills he honed through sanda gave him an edge in the cage.

    “I started as a wrestler, then I was introduced to sanda,” says Zhang. “I could box, I could kick, I could wrestle. I think this sport gives Chinese fighters an advantage when it comes to MMA and the UFC because of those skills.”

    Song Yadong, the UFC’s 14th-ranked bantamweight, echoes this sentiment. His fighting career began at just 9 years old, when he convinced his parents to let him train at one of the famed kungfu schools surrounding the Shaolin Temple in Central China. From there, he transitioned into sanda, then began training with Chengdu’s Enbo Fight Club, before completing his MMA apprenticeship under the tutelage of UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber in California.

    Students practice open hand strikes at the Shaolin Yongzhi Kungfu School in Dengfeng, Henan province. Courtesy of Matthew Scott

    “Those kungfu skills I learned when I was 9 made me even more talented when I was practicing mixed martial arts,” Song tells Sixth Tone. “Chinese martial arts inspired me and taught me to mix the static with the dynamic, to understand that things can be true and false, and to fight with a capricious style.”

    To many in China’s MMA circles, Song’s journey from Shaolin to UFC success is a blueprint for the future. Joe Qiao Bo, a veteran MMA coach and ambassador for the sport in China, says the country’s martial arts schools are filled with young fighters with the potential to become pro MMA fighters.

    “There are a lot of young people getting into MMA, but the real numbers — the real giant pool of fighters — is still not activated,” says Qiao. “The real numbers are still in martial arts schools.”

    In the area around the Shaolin Temple alone, there are scores of martial arts venues, some of them housing as many as 40,000 teenage students. Qiao, who also serves as a consultant for the MMA department of the Chinese Boxing Federation, spends much of his time in the region, working to deepen ties between the schools and the fledgling MMA movement.

    “We are trying to activate that connection,” he says. “They (the students in Shaolin) are teenagers, and now is the perfect time to introduce them to MMA.”

    Joe Qiao Bo visits the Shaolin Yongzhi Kungfu School in Dengfeng, Henan province, 2019. Courtesy of Matthew Scott

    Wang Zhan, a coach at the Enbo Fight Club, has already noticed an uptick in the number of kids arriving in Chengdu from Shaolin, wanting to learn the new sport.

    “In the past three years, many people have been joining,” says Wang. “The UFC has indeed improved everyone’s knowledge of MMA in China … There are many fighters like Song Yadong.”

    There are a lot of young people getting into MMA, but the real giant pool of fighters is still not activated.
    - Joe Qiao Bo, MMA coach
    Meanwhile, there’s an ongoing effort to build up MMA as an amateur sport in China, ensuring young fighters have more opportunities to develop before turning pro.

    As elsewhere, MMA was for professionals only in China until just a few years ago. But in 2012, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) was set up to turn MMA into a globally recognized amateur sport. One day, the goal is for MMA to be accepted as an Olympic event.

    The IMMAF and the Chinese Boxing Federation have begun organizing amateur competitions and promoting coaching programs in China. Chinese fighters also regularly compete in the IMMAF’s global competitions, with Han Guangmei the current women’s world bantamweight champion.

    Qiao, who coordinates the work of the Chinese and international bodies, views these initiatives as vital to getting the sport on more sustainable footing.“We need to build a pathway for the fighters,” he says. “We need to push this toward the Olympics, like other combat sports.”

    If these efforts pay off, China may once more emerge as a global center for combat sports. According to Qiao, if Chinese fighters dig deep enough into the country’s martial arts heritage, they could even show the UFC a new way to fight.

    “In MMA right now, people will either strike or they’ll do grappling,” he says. “But the beauty of real kungfu lies in the middle. How do you put your opponent off balance, and then strike? There is an element of this tripping in kungfu that no one is using in MMA. I call this the missing link. That’s what we’re working on now.”

    Editor: Dominic Morgan.

    (Header image: Li Jingliang reacts after his knockout victory over Santiago Ponzinibbio of Argentina in a welterweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 17, 2021. Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/People Visual)
    Zhang Tiequan
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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