Prospect Watch: Mitch Chilson – One FC’s Evolving Featherweight Contender

Just days away from his third appearance in One FC, Mitch Chilson talks about his growth working at Evolve MMA, and the possibility of fighting for the ONE FC featherweight belt. You have been linked with a show at the ONE FC featherweight title, is that something you are aiming for and what do you think you would need to do to get a title shot?

Mitch Chilson: Yes of course I would like a title shot. It has been a life long dream of mine to win a world title. However my focus is on my next fight at One FC 5 against a tough opponent. I want to win and win impressively. If I continue to perform well and winning fights I know my title shot will come. You have already fought Eric Kelly once and have talked about the possibility of a rematch, how do you see his fight with Jens Pulver going?

MC: This is a very interesting fight. Jens is a very experienced fighter, he has been to the top of the mountain. Eric and I have fought before and he is very explosive. He moves well and has good technique. I know he is hungry for success. I don’t know if Jens can handle Eric for three rounds and he’ll need to finish him quick. I am interested to see if Eric can handle the wrestling of Jens and how he works off his back. Either way it should be an interesting fight. I’ll be watching backstage with my coaches. How has training been going for your fight at ONE FC in Manila?

MC: Training has been going very well. I was not injured at the KL ONE FC and was in good shape. I just picked right back up with training. I took the day off on Sunday and was back in the academy with the Evolve Fight Team on Monday afternoon. The entire camp has been great. Who are your training partners and trainers?

MC: My main training partners for this camp on the Evolve Fight Team are Leandro “Brodinho” Issa, Brian “The Polar Bear” Choi and Orono Wor Petchpun. They are close to my weight and we go at it. Brodinho has incredible grappling skills and pushes me every day. Brian is a very tough wrestler with an amazing sense of balance and control. Orono fights out of the southpaw stance and is one of the best strikers in the world. I can honestly say that I have some of the best training and sparring partners on the planet.

My coaches for this fight camp have been Heath Sims, Brodinho and Attachai Fairtex. Heath Sims has been very important in my development as a MMA athlete. He knows so much about the game and is such a high level coach. Brodinho has been working with me for about three years now and understands where I need to improve. Attachai Fairtex is my Muay Thai coac, he is a former Muay Thai World Champion and one of the most technical strikers of his era. I love working with him and I learn something new every day. Then, of course, there is Chatri Sityodtong who oversees the entire program.

MC: How do you feel about fighting in front of 16,500 people, are you nervous?

MC: I am very excited to be part of such an historic card. The Araneta Stadium is huge and I am pumped to be competing in this event. I have visualized the roar of the crowd, a packed house and I get chills just thinking about it. I know the more fans there are the more fired up I’ll be in there. Shannon Wiratchai is unbeaten but it’s difficult to find footage of him online, do you feel you know what to expect from this fight?

MC: Shannon presents a unique challenge. He fights out of the southpaw stance with an unconventional striking base. He is a judo black belt so he must be good in the clinch and on the ground. I have complete trust in my coaches to come up with an effective gameplan, I know I’ll perform well and come out on top. Are you surprised by how quickly ONE FC has grown?

MC: One FC has really put the right people in the right places. They have an incredible marketing team and are making all the correct moves. I am not surprised by One FC’s success. Asia has been ready and waiting for a large organization to come in and do some big things. They have a good combination of local heroes and big name superstars. I am honored to be a part of the Asian MMA movement and One FC. What are your strengths as a martial artist?

MC: My strengths as a martial artist could be either my striking skills or my athleticism but I think it is my heart. I never count myself out and I always believe in myself. I know I can be a very good mixed martial artist and I will train harder, eat better and do more than the next guy to get there. Evolve MMA is now established as the number one gym in Asia and you have been there since the beginning, how much have you benefited from getting to train alongside the likes of Rich Franklin, Ben Askren, Rafael Dos Anjos and Shinya Aoki?

MC: You never know who is going to stop by to train or teach at Evolve MMA. This place is not only filled with world class instructors but we consistently have major MMA superstars coming from around the world to work with us. During my last fight camp I was working with Rich Franklin and Ben Askren and for this camp I am working with Shinya Aoki and Satoru Kitaoka. This experience is immeasurable. I know nobody in Asia has the quality of coaches and training partners I have at Evolve. Has awareness of MMA in Singapore grown since you first arrived and do you find you get recognized a lot?

MC: I arrived in Singapore seven years ago and no one had ever heard of MMA. I was forced to travel to the other side of the island just to hit pads with some of the few Muay Thai coaches in the country. Over the past three years MMA has exploded in a main stream sport and activity. Now houses wives use it to lose weight, business men and women are enrolled in classes to relieve stress and kids are building self confidence with MMA.

Once and a while someone will ask if I am ‘The Dragon’ or a guy at a coffee shop or in line at an ATM will ask to take a photo and it is nice. The fans make this sport fun and MMA athletes are very accessible. You can walk into an MMA gym and train right alongside a top pro and for that MMA is unique. Who have been the greatest influences on your career as a martial artist?

MC: My main influences in martial arts are definitely my coaches. I am lucky to work with the best martial artists in the planet. Muay Thai grandmaster Yodtong Senanan told me ‘surround yourself with greatness and if you work hard, you too can be great’. I have the greatest team in the world, Chatri, Heath, Kru Ped Siyodtong, Kru Attachai Fairtex, Brodinho, Zoro… the list goes on and on. Each and every member of the team has helped me grow as a martial artist. I appreciate and am grateful to everyone at Evolve MMA.

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