Thailand, the birthplace of Muaythai used to be a tough market for MMA to penetrate. Muaythai reign supreme due to its historical and heritage significant. But the growth of MMA in fact further elevate Muaythai status as the best striking martial arts there is in this planet.

The popularity of MMA as the fastest growing sports in the world has brought fourth the prominence of Muaythai. As a MMA warrior, your arsenal is definitely lacking if you do not armed yourself with Muaythai skills. With this, the popularity of Muaythai camps sees a great increase in athletes coming to acquire Muaythai skills, especially the ones in Phuket.

DARE was the pioneer in Thailand for MMA events, back in June 2011, two months even before Asia’s current leading MMA promotion ONE Championship had their first ever event in Singapore. DARE started the concept of MMA fights inside a nightclub.

After 2013 DARE went quiet, seeing that the demand is still there, the charismatic Jon Nutt founded Full Metal Dojo to filled this void. FMD’s first event was in Seduction Club Phuket.
Since then, FMD has successfully held 12 shows. FMD did a fabulous job carving a niche market of presenting live fights mixed with the dizzying night live of Thailand.

In the short time of 5 years from it’s birth in 2011, ONE Championship trully grow to became an Asian giant in this sports. More and more Thais fight fans began to understand MMA and wanted to watch live events. It was in May 2016, that ONE finally able to organised a show in Thailand, with ONE: KINGDOM of CHAMPIONS.

It was a huge success for ONE at the birthplace of it’s chairman Chatri Sityodtong. Combining live rock music with live MMA actions in Impact Arena Bangkok. I believe the acceptance of the Thai crowds to this concept certainly had to do with the work of what FMD has done to build this market.

But it looks like Thailand MMA scene will grow further, come 18 Jan 2017, Bangkok will see the birth of Thailand Fighting Championship. Going to held it’s first event at Build Factory, the biggest and most popular night club in Khao Lak, 80km north of Phuket.

8 pro bouts has been schedule to go down starting at 4pm

Fight 1: Welterweight 77kg – Iceland – Sigurgeir Heiðarsson vs Egypt – Amr ElGohary

Fight 2: Bantamweight 61kg – Costa Rica – Emilio Angulo vs Iran – Mohammadali Amiri

Fight 3: Featherweight 66kg – Malaysia – Hanif Zainal vs Iran – Mazista Monjezi

Fight 4: Bantamweight 61kg – Thailand – Sanan Nonglek vs Thailand – Jaktan Tangjan

Fight 5: Flyweight 57kg – Thailand – Pinuy Nuison vs Thailand – Weerayuth “The Monkey King” Pinyoporn

Co-Main Event 

Fight 6: Flyweight 57kg – Philippines – Biondi Dayangadang vs Thailand – Wisawa King Kaveevaragorn

Main Event 

Fight 7: Flyweight 57kg – USA – Alex Schild vs Malaysia – Mohd Zakhir


The battle field for these MMA warriors will be in a ring rather than a cage and will follow the Unified Rules set used by UFC with 1 exception, knees are allowed at all time even to the head. This will certainly up the ante for action as fighters will not be able to take a breather by touching one hand on the ground to be deemed ground, preventing himself by being knee by his opponent as we often see in UFC fights. ( but UFC has changed this rules in 2017 )
Related:  ONE Championship to launch a unique format of ‘The Apprentice' in Asia

According to Will Chope , Thailand Fighting Championship – TFC goal is to give local Thai fighters and locally based foreign competitors a professionally marketed MMA event to showcase their skills and continue onward to greater, more international stages.

Will Chope is no stranger to the fight scene in Asia. He was a ex UFC featherweight and the current URCC Lightweight Champion. Will is touted as the most busiest fighter in world, but for TFC he is playing the role of matchmaker.
Will is base in Thailand and is very active in the fight circuit of Asia. He has travel extensively in Asia and has met many coaches and fighters around the region. He took up this role as he wants to help promote potential fighters, give them an avenue to turn pro and gain valuable experience before breaking into the big league.
He is going to be busy as TFC has 4 events planned for 2017. Will is also task with promoting TFC on the social media. Ask on the difference between Asia MMA promotions as compare to western organisation such as UFC, Bellator & WSOF, WIll has this to say,
” On a entertainment level I think Asia is better, The walk outs the promo videos, the atmosphere in the stadiums is way better entertainment wise. The rule sets in Asia, the fighters story lines, the region is way more electrifying on a entertainment level than their western counterpart. But of course if you want to see the best vs the best, UFC is still the benchmark”

 

Two Malaysian will be featured in TFC cards. Hanif Zainal at featherweight and Mohd Zakhir at Flyweight.

Hanif Zainal
At Featherweight, Hanif Zainal of Combat 360X will fight Iranian Benham Monjezi  of AKA Thailand. Hanif has a record of 6-5-1. He is an engineering student with lots of fight experience. He has been active since the early days of Malaysian MMA, fighting in Malaysia Fighting Championship, Ultimate Beatdown and Legend FC.
Hanif last MMA fight was in the Australian HEX Fight Series 5, in Feb 2016 where he lost by TKO in round 2. He is eager to get back into winning ways by dominating Mazista Monjezi.
It is certainly great to see another fellow Malaysian Mohd Zakhir being featured in TFC’s. To have him featured in the main event of the night surely shows how far Malaysian MMA has progress.

Zakhir has a 3-2-0 record and most recently in MIMMA4 last year faced flyweight veteran from Sabah, Eddey Kalai. Zakhir lost to him in a 3 round decision.

In Christmas day last year, Zakhir was the semi-finalist in ONE Silat Championship’s flyweight category. (ONE Silat is a pro Silat championship bout with rules set similar to MMA). He lost to Rabin Sornito of Philipines. After a close first round…
” I lost via decision. My plan was to go aggressive on the 2nd round but Catalan got my ribs pretty hard which threw me off my game plan. All in all it was a good fight and at the end of the three rounds, I still had 30% gas in my tank left.”

These losses is not dampening Zakhir’s spirit. Being an experience sportsman since young, Zakhir has a positive attitude. He knows losses are temporary as he pick up valuable learning from each one to improve himself.

Related:  EFN8 - Next stop: Malaysia, on the twin road to the Kings Cup and Abu Dhabi Warriors.
Zakhir in action in MIMMA4. ( pix by YK Tang )

At 24 this year, this Shah Alam lad started his sporting life early with competitive swimming when he was 8. He became so good at it, eventually became a national swimmer during his school years. Ever since then, Zakhir has always been competitive in any sports he dive into.

As fitness became the way of life for him, he decided to do it for a living by working in gym, coaching fitness. As MMA conditioning is one of the most grueling training an athlete can do, as he delve into it, Zakhir eventually became a MMA fighter.

His first competition was done without the consent of his family as they perceive MMA as a violent sports. But after his second fight which he won, bringing home the trophy, he was able to convert his family’s thinking towards the sports and they are now his biggest fans.

Zakhir with his UMF team mates

Aside from MMA, Zakhir is also an avid golfer and plays dart to relax. This type of activities certainly builds his mental strength by being calm and patient. He will need all of this as he is facing his opponent Alex Schild in Alex’s adopted home. Thai crowd can be very intimidating and Alex is a well known figure in the local martial arts scene. But Zakhir is confident and is preparing himself to produce an upset.

Fighting out of Ultimate Malaysia Fighter, Zakhir just got married last September. As for what motivates him…
“The endless support from my family, wife, coaches and mates motivate me to fight harder and better while my passion and competitiveness always provides me the thirst for more action.”



Zakhir’s opponent is American Alex Schild. He is a BJJ instructor in the fame Tiger Muay Thai (TMT) in Phuket.  Alex is coming into TFC after a 2 fight losing streak. From WSOF Global 1 in 2015 and recently in Beijing promotion Bullet Fly FC. When not competing in MMA, Alex keep himself busy running BJJ classes in BJJ and actively fight Muaythai in the local circuits.

He is excited and honoured to be in the main card in TFC and he feels that fighting in his second home in Thailand certainly motivates him to win. Alex has world class BJJ skills but also has build himself to be well rounded MMA athlete by his mentor Roger Huerta, whom is a ex UFC veteran and now fights in ONE Championship. Alex also polishes his MMA skills by regularly training with many world class athletes that drops by in TMT.
When not coaching in TMT, Alex spends his time exploring the many wonderful places around Phuket and Thailand. Alex also founded and runs Sabai Gi, A brand that markets BJJ gi and apparels.
Thailand Fighting Championship will be live in their Facebook. Do follow them in their FB, or better yet get yourself to Khao Lak’s best entertainment venue – Build Factory to catch great MMA actions from emerging fighters in this region.