Fighter brings 'style of Taiwan' to the world of mixed martial arts

Fighter brings 'style of Taiwan' to the world of mixed martial arts
Paul Cheng (right) poses for a photo with his agent in this photo taken on June 18 in Taipei.

Standing at an imposing height of 191 centimeters and weighing an intimidating 116 kilograms, Paul "Typhoon" Cheng took home his fifth mixed martial arts (MMA) win from ONE Fighting Championship (One FC) event: War of Dragons. Now, with a record of five wins and one loss, Cheng proudly exited the Taiwan National University Sports Arena (台大綜合體育館) drowned in the cheers of the Taiwanese people on Friday, July 11.

Though holding Canadian citizenship, Cheng was born Cheng Chih-ping (程誌平) and raised in Taiwan before his family emigrated to Canada when he was nine. However, Cheng has never forgotten his Taiwanese roots and retains a fluency in Mandarin to this day, even altering his ring name "Typhoon" into Chinese characters that gives the title the pun of "the style of Taiwan (台風)."

"I am excited and honoured to have the biggest bout of my career in my home town," Cheng said during an interview with The China Post reporter Ted Chen.

When asked about why he took up MMA professionally, Cheng replied that it all began when he was working as a stuntman on the set of the first "Night at the Museum" film with actor Ben Stiller. While on set, as a henchman for Attila the Hun, Cheng was urged to pursue a form of martial arts to better find jobs in Hollywood, especially given his Asian heritage.

Later, after realizing his talent for and love of MMA, and at the encouragement of his friend and accomplished MMA coach Sal Ram, Cheng began to pursue his professional career. With his monumental size that is uncommon among Asians, Cheng soon found himself signed by and fighting for the Singapore-based MMA promotion One FC, billed as arguably the only heavyweight contender in the professional fighting scene to represent the Taiwanese people if not the entire Chinese population.

No stranger to sports, Cheng came into the business with a past experience as a defensive tackle for the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League, bringing with him the necessary dedication and persistence required of a dream-chasing athlete.

Regardless of his late professional starting age, the now 35-year-old aims to be and is currently an inspiration to many Chinese youths in Canada and Taiwan, by achieving his dreams one after another while breaking down the barriers of racial stereotypes.

After going head-to-head with Egyptian heavyweight Mahmoud "Hellboy" Hassan, Cheng took his dream one step closer after securing a Technical Knock Out as a result of corner stoppage. Though the Egyptian fighter seemed to have the upper hand for the majority of the fight, with a knock-out attempt with a flying knee, Cheng performed a side control which transited into mount, at which point a barrage of ground-and-pound forced Hassan's corner to throw in the towel midway during the second round, giving the Typhoon his current 5-1 record.

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