Malaysia may not be a country we instantly think of when discussing the world’s MMA hotbeds, however after this past weekend’s ONE Championship: Throne of Tigers, that may be about to change.
All six Malaysian prospects would end up victorious in front of 10,000 of their countrymen and women inside a sold out Stadium Negera in Kuala Lumpar. Malaysian-born Ev Ting would defeat former UFC fighter Kamal Shalorus by split decision in the evening’s main event.
Despite the long history of martial arts in the region, Malaysia has yet to produce any fighters that have gone on to fight for the big two of UFC and Bellator. However, that may not be true for much longer with many fighters currently competing to break out of the talented group of young Malaysian prospects to be the first to represent their country on the big stage
With Asia’s premier MMA promotion ONE Championship recently striking a deal with the smaller Malaysian Invasion MMA promotion, the talent from the country is starting to rise to the top. Malaysian fighters at differing areas of development would all impress on their way to victory on Friday night whilst putting the world on notice that Malaysia and it’s fighters are ready to make a big impact on the world MMA scene.
Ev Ting leading the way for Malaysian fighters
Momentum for Ting (13-3) raised and based in New Zealand but representing his country of birth, is now at an all-time high. The Auckland MMA prospect has only one loss in his previous eight bouts for the promotion since his ONE debut in 2014. That loss came to undefeated Russian sensation and ONE featherweight champion Marat Gafurov and “ET” will surely look for his chance of revenge after four straight victories have left him on the verge of an anticipated rematch and shot at Gafurov’s 145lb title.
With a rabid following in Malaysia and the whole country behind him, Ting finds himself in the enviable position of spearheading the current movement. One more win could see him catch the attention of the biggest promotions who should surely recognise the 27-year-old’s potential, not just inside the cage, but also in terms of breaking into a new developing market for the sport.
Another Malaysian fighter who would taste victory in Kuala Lumpar was undefeated Welterweight Agilan Thani (6-0) who would defeat Jeff Huang (6-3) in the co-main event with a second round submission win. The 21-year-old, who won the Malaysian Invasion 2 welterweight tournament as an amateur, has finished all of his fights inside the distance to date and is known for a very slick ground game with submissions to match.
Still developing with every performance, Thani would call out ONE welterweight champion Ben Askren after his most recent win. Although that may be a step too far at this point in his career, “The Alligator” has certainly made everyone sit up and take notice after showing so much potential at a young age.
The revolution is not just exclusive to the male fighters as Flyweight Ann Osman (5-3) has emerged as a flag bearer for Women’s MMA in the country. Despite two losses in her last four fights, the Borneo Tribal Squad product showed remarkable improvement in her win over Cambodian opponent Vy Srey Khouch and is another fighter to come out of the Malaysian Invasion promotion.
A step ahead from the get-go, “Athena” would take the fight to her opponent. Towards the end of the round, she rained down punches to get the first round TKO stoppage with two seconds remaining on the clock.
Team Bali prospect Keanu Subba (5-2) not only scored another win for the Malaysian contingent, but also provided the upset of the night. Subba defeated highly-rated and previously undefeated Pakistani prospect Ahmed Mujtaba with a rear naked choke in the first round.
With five wins in his last six, the surging featherweight is on the path to title contention. At such an infancy of his career, we can expect to see Subba grace our screens in more familiar and mainstream territory if he continues with his dominant and entertaining performances.
With Saiful Merican (5-3) and Muhammad Aiman (2-1) making it a clean sweep for the Malaysian fighters, the night could not have gone better on home soil. With the future of the country’s MMA scene looks very bright indeed, it’s surely just a matter of time before we see a Malaysian fighter make their debut in the UFC. That could prove to be the catalyst that opens the floodgates for the young and talented fighters in Malaysia to put their beloved country on the map and bring home it’s first world title.