Melvin Yeoh: ONE FC’s Resident School Teacher Turned MMA Fighter

Melvin Yeoh has been around the MMA world in his home area of Malaysia because he started the first full MMA gym there as well as MMA promotion, while also spending most of his time teaching students.

You see Melvin Yeoh is also a full-time school teacher by day before shedding the suit and tie to bang heads at night in the MMA world.

Now the 6-1 fighter looks to make his biggest impact yet as he debuts for ONE FC, and looks to make waves at 145lbs this year

MMAWeekly: How’s training going?

Melvin Yeoh: It’s going great, right on the schedule and on plan. I just wish the fight could be right now.

Are you finding it difficult to fit training for such a big fight around all your other commitments?

Honestly yes, I have to send my sons to tuition at 8 AM, then go to morning session training, after that fetch my sons back from tuition and take care of them before sending them to school and then I teach at a school every day from 12-7pm. I’m grateful to the school for allowing me to teach the afternoon session in order to let me prepare for this fight. I arrive home and have my dinner at 11pm right after my training and teaching in Ultimate MMA Academy.

You are well known for using MMA as a means to reach out to troubled children in Johor Bahru, can you tell us a little bit about how this works?

I teach at a secondary school and most students at secondary school age face changes in their lives and they sometimes have problems with their families and teachers. Many of them get into fights on the streets or in school. I try to take these students to my gym and teach them MMA and help them change their focus from street fighting to becoming better and more disciplined person.

How excited are you to be making your ONE FC debut?

I try to meditate every day to make my mind and body as natural as I can and I try not to think too much because the more excited I am the more nervous it will become.

You already beat Raymond Tiew once, are you confident you can do it again?

That fight was long time ago and was very early in both out career but I am confident because I was not 100% when I fought Raymond the first time, I already fought once that day and had some injury problems. I know he has improved a lot since then and we are both very happy to be fighting again and amazed that this time the fight is for the biggest MMA promotion in Asia and 15,000 people will be there, the first time we fought there were only around 150 people watching.

Do you believe you can win that 145 lbs belt?

It’s still too early to say that yet but it’s a really big challenge for me. I am confident in my game plan and ability to execute it. My main problem is putting on weight since my natural fighting weight is 61.5 kgs and I can’t have a lifestyle like others can who only have to train, eat and sleep every day which makes it harder to gain weight.

When you started up Ultimate MMA were there any other MMA camps in the country or do you think it was the first?

The time when we started Ultimate MMA there are a few groups doing MMA in Malaysia too but no MMA camp, just people sharing knowledge together. We didn’t even call it an MMA camp at the time because there were no MMA fights in Malaysia until 2009 so basically we just sent our guys to compete in amateur boxing, pro muay thai, judo, bjj, no gi grappling etc.

How did you first get into MMA?

It was back in 2004 when I first watched a Royce Gracie DVD in which he beat so many opponents in one night and won UFC champ tittle!

When and where did you first start training MMA?

I learned Taekwondo at a young age, then took on Muay Thai, then BJJ/submission grappling, and in 2006 I started to promote MMA with my gym and tried to mix everything together in sparring.

Did you ever imagine you would one day get to fight in front of 15,000 fans in KL?

Going back to the first day I learned martial arts, I never imagined or expected I would go this far. It’s really like a dream come true for me! ONE FC has had such a big impact in Malaysia, back in the day I had serious trouble promoting MMA to people but right after the first ONE FC show in Malaysia you could see more and more MMA gym and MMA events in Malaysia and more people started to switch from others martial arts into MMA. ONE FC is definitely a rain maker for MMA in Malaysia.