Next month, Amir Khan will enlist for the two years of national service that all Singaporean men are obliged to perform, but before that he faces the biggest test of his burgeoning MMA career against hard hitting Thai featherweight Shannon Wiratchai at ONE: Valor of Champions.
Khan (2-1) has won two fights out of two for ONE Championship, but faces a big step up against a fighter who twice knocked out Mitch Chilson in brutal fashion, even if the first victory was subsequently changed to a no contest. The Thai fighter is powerful and explosive, but Khan says he is not blown away by the abilities of the opponent he will face at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Friday.
“I think he is a decent fighter. I’ve watched all his ONE FC fights, but I’ve been working my Muay Thai with Orono Wor Petchpun, who’s a southpaw too, working work my wrestling with Heath Sims, and sharpening my ground skills with all the world class black belts at Evolve MMA, so I am prepared for everything.”
It’s a busy period at Evolve MMA with fighters like Ben Askren, Shinya Aoki and Eddie Ng all preparing for upcoming fights, while UFC champ Rafael Dos Anjos is also in Singapore to do some light training. For Khan, it’s an opportunity to pick up tips and tricks from some of the most experienced people in the trade.
“It’s an honor to train with guys like Askren and Aoki and and Dos Anjos because they are so experienced, but they always take time to share the things they have learned with me. It definitely motivates me training alongside fighters who have achieved so much because I can see how all their hard work has paid off.”
Khan was initially scheduled to fight Florian Garel at ONE Championship’s recent event in Kuala Lumpur, but the French fighter pulled out. He finds himself facing Wiratchai in Manila instead and says he is excited to be fighting in the Philippines for the first time.
“I already fought in Singapore in front of 12,000 fans, but everyone tells me the MOA Arena is even bigger and that Filipino fans are the most passionate, so even though I was disappointed when my last fight was cancelled, I am very happy to be fighting in the Philippines for the first time.”
Khan will be consigned to an office job during national service because his Tourette’s Syndrome precludes him from participating in any active military assignments. He has no intention of taking a break from MMA, but doesn’t think he will be able to fight as frequently.
“I will try and train in the morning or evening, but I won’t be able to train as much as before. Evolve MMA is open from early morning to late at night, so even if I am in an office during the day I can still train, just not with the same intensity.”
At just 20 year’s old, Khan is already ahead of the curve and even if the ONE: Valor of Champions bout with Wiratchai is his last for two years, he believes this steep learning curve can continue.
“I will still be learning and improving, so even if I don’t have enough time to do all the cardio and the strength and conditioning which you need for a fight, I will still be working with the trainers at Evolve MMA. I will be a better fighter in two years time than I am today.”
ONE: Valor of Champions is set for the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on April 24 and the entire event can be purchased for 9.99 USD from http://www.onefc.com/livestream.html.
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