After an interval of nearly three years between his first and second fights things are happening fast for Singapore’s Radeem Rahman, who is set to compete inside the ONE FC cage for the second time in the space of four months at this week’s event.
Rahman is facing top Taiwanese bantamweight Sung Ming Yen at ONE FC: Rise of the Kingdom and while he might be in for the roughest test of his entire career, the 28-year-old says he is just happy to be back doing what he loves.
“It’s a huge relief to be back training and fighting. It’s not been easy, but I am glad that I have teammates and coaches at Evolve MMA who believe in me and have guided me to overcome these obstacles.”
In his last fight, Rahman had to overcome an obstacle in the shape of Raymond Tan and survived a torrid first five minutes when he was picked apart by the lanky Malaysian before bouncing back to score a stoppage midway through the second round.
The momentum changed when Rahman decided to stop engaging an opponent who stands at nearly six feet tall and instead focused on getting the fight to the floor, a decision which he says was inspired by advice from one of his coaches.
“I was really disappointed as I couldn’t get my rhythm going in the first round, but my confidence was never affected because I knew I would have a chance to redeem myself in the next round. After the first round, Heath Sims told me to stop engaging him with strikes and work on my wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; I feel lucky to have him as a coach and cornerman.”
Rahman definitely did not get the better of the stand-up exchanges in that match-up, but he comes from a strong Muay Thai background and says he remains extremely confident in his striking.
“I struggled due to my opponent’s height and reach and it took me a while to settle down in the cage as Raymond just threw everything he got in the first round. I still feel that striking is my main strength, but for sure I am no longer a one-dimensional fighter. In MMA, it’s all about finding a strategy to unlock your opponent’s defense.”
On Sept. 12, Rahman is facing an opponent who is coming off a quick-fire submission win over another Singaporean bantamweight and he believes Yen will offer the toughest test of his career to date.
“From what I saw from his last fight and his fight record, he is more of a grappler and more experienced than me. I think he will be my best opponent yet and this time round I expect my ground game to be tested,” Rahman said.
In Rahman’s first professional fight, he easily defeated an Indian opponent and while he got a raucous reception from the fans in attendance at the Singapore Indoor Stadium for his efforts, there was some suggestion afterwards that it might have been a mismatch.
Nobody could level that criticism against Rahman after the hard-fought win over the tall and unorthodox Tan and he thinks he made a statement by beating such a tricky opponent.
“Probably I managed to silence some critics, but in this sport there will always be criticism regardless of how well you perform in the cage. For me, having criticism is good as it motivates me to prove people wrong and earn their respect,” he said.
As one of only a handful of Singaporeans currently signed with ONE FC, there is plenty of pressure on Rahman’s shoulders, and his response is to work tirelessly to try and ensure he is capable of living up to expectations once he steps inside the cage.
“Most of the time I train four to five hours a day with the world champion coaches at Evolve doing MMA and wrestling in the morning followed by Muay Thai and boxing in the afternoon. I will also do an hour of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu just to work on my technique and position.”
It is an intense schedule, but so far it has paid dividends for Rahman, and he will be hoping to preserve his undefeated record with a win over Yen at ONE FC: Rise of the Nation at the Koh Pich Theatre in Phnom Penh on Friday night.
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