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
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 )
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.
” 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.
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.
” 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.
|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.