Singapore is home to the biggest promotion in Asia and the most successful camp, but despite being established as the epicenter of MMA in the region the country has yet to produce a mixed martial artist capable of competing for titles at the highest level.
The race is on to find the first truly world-class Singaporean fighter and Amir Khan could well be that man. The 20-year-old is on the card at ONE FC: Rise of the Kingdom in Cambodia on Friday and expectations are high ahead of what will be his pro debut.
Khan is not getting a gentle introduction to life with Asia’s biggest MMA promotion because his opponent, Jian Kai Chee, is an eight-fight veteran who has already competed inside the ONE FC cage twice.
Chee has been in with the likes of Eddie Ng, Arnaud Lepont, and Ole Laursen, but Khan says he is confident that his lack of experience in comparison to his opponent won’t be an issue.
“I’m not nervous because I am well prepared for this fight. I feel really excited because I have been waiting for this opportunity since venturing into the MMA scene.”
Earlier this year, Khan accepted an offer to join the Evolve MMA Fight Team, meaning that he is now a full-time mixed martial artist training every day alongside the likes of Ben Askren, Shinya Aoki, and Leandro Issa.
It is a tremendous opportunity for the Singaporean to learn from some of the best fighters and trainers in the business, but he earned it by cutting his teeth on the competitive amateur scene in the Bayou State.
Khan says he started out as a Muay Thai fighter, but the move to the U.S. was partly motivated by a desire to become proficient in the other aspects of MMA.
“I started training Muay Thai at the age of 13 and since then I always wanted to be a full-time professional Muay Thai fighter, but over the years my appreciation for the art of MMA grew and that motivated me to move to the states with my father at the age of 15 to learn more about MMA and participate in MMA competitions.”
It’s difficult to draw comparisons between the level of competition Khan has been facing in Louisiana and the sort of opponents he would have started out fighting if he’d stayed in Singapore, but running up a 4-0 amateur record before returning home should certainly see Khan in good stead ahead of his ONE debut.
One major change that he has made since coming back to Singapore is securing a sought after spot on the Evolve MMA team and Khan says he has improved dramatically in recent months.
“My MMA game has gone to the next level because I get to train every day with world champions from different disciplines, which has helped me to become a much more well rounded fighter.”
Khan earned his spot on the ONE FC roster by moving to the U.S. to train and compete as a teenager, a gamble that appears to have paid off handsomely, but it is still a big stage for any fighter to make his professional debut.
Sept. 12 will be the biggest night of his career and Khan says it’s a moment he has been working for since he first pulled on a pair of Muay Thai gloves seven years ago.
“ONE FC is the biggest MMA organization in Asia and this is my opportunity to showcase my hard work, dedication, and craft to the world. I am pumped up for this fight!”
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