Malaysian Invasion Mixed Martial Arts (MIMMA) has joined forced with ONE FC for a card in Kuala Lumpur on June 15. It will feature three professional fights as well as seven amateur bouts, which will crown Malaysian national champions for the first time.
MIMMA is organized by Tune Talk, a telecommunications company that also sponsors ONE FC. It is open to all fighters of Malaysian nationality with a total of RM 150,000 (48,000 USD) worth of cash prizes on offer to the winners.
A field of over 300 participants was narrowed down to 112 fighters spread across seven weight categories after an open trial. A panel of experts selected the most qualified candidates for MIMMA, who then competed in an elimination style tournament with fights conducted under amateur rules.
Footage of the fights, which have been taking place at a major shopping center in Kuala Lumpur, has been broadcast every week on Star Sports. For the finals, MIMMA is moving to the 11,000-capacity Stadium Negara and there will be three ONE FC fights on the card.
In the main event, rising Malaysian lightweight star Peter Davis (6-1) faces the greatest test of his career to date when he takes on Costa Rica’s Ariel Sexton (7-2-1) who is a BJJ black belt notable for an appearance on The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck.
Davis has won three fights out of three under the ONE FC banner, but matchmakers reportedly want to see him tested against more experienced opposition before rewarding him with a shot at the 155-pound belt, which is currently owned by Shinya Aoki.
In the co-main event, Malaysian flyweight Saiful Merican (0-1) goes up against unbeaten Indian Aditya Desphande (3-0) who fights for Full Contact Championship. The Malay fighter is a Muay Thai champion who despite never having registered an MMA win is very popular with the Kuala Lumpur crowd.
The third professional fight on the card sees Filipino Edward Kelly (1-0) take on Thai striking specialist Tanaphong Khunhankaew (2-2). The former is best known for being the brother of ONE FC featherweight contender Eric Kelly. The latter is a veteran of over 100 Muay Thai matches.
MMA has developed in Malaysia at a dramatic rate, meaning many fighters have rushed to make their pro debuts, often with minimal experience. Tune Talk CEO Jason Loh is a long-term fan of the sport and wanted to invest in some grass roots infrastructure that would help give up-and-coming mixed martial artists some valuable amateur experience.
He feels that the standard has improved as the tournament has progressed and hopes to see some of the finalists go on to make an impression in the professional ranks.
“With every round, the fights have got much better and I am super excited about the MIMMA grand finals,” he said. “I’ve been an MMA fan for a long time and I hope this tournament is going to introduce more Malaysians to the sport as well as launching the careers of fighters who will go on to star for ONE FC or the UFC one day.”