ONE: Huang Di Yuan kicks off pro MMA career with tourney title

ONE: Huang Di Yuan kicks off pro MMA career with tourney title
PHOTO: Cheryl Tay

Huang Di Yuan's first two official mixed martial arts (MMA) fights were on the big stage of ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS (Guangzhou), as he captured the Guangzhou Featherweight Tournament Championship.

Entering the four-fighter field without a pro bout to his credit, Huang scored a verbal submission TKO over Tian Jian She in the semifinals before besting Ma Jia Wen in the finals via decision.

"I've been waiting for this opportunity for a long time," Huang said. "I desperately wanted to prove myself in ONE. That's my ONE debut and I wanted to make it impressive.

"(Fighting twice in one night) was easy for me. We got it all figured out for my opponents. Fighting two guys in one night is never an issue for me. The only challenge was when I suffered some injuries right before the fight, but it all ended up well."

Huang was pleased with his own performances, saying "I think I just 'murdered' my first opponent brutally. I felt bad for him before the fight even started.

"The second fight, it was intense. Last fight of the night, you can't make any mistakes," he said. "But I think I was careful about what my opponent was gonna do. My game plan worked like magic. I sent him the low kick from hell! I was looking for the finish until the end."

The 22-year-old earned the nickname "Gongfu Boy" while in grade school after picking up gongfu for the fun of it from his father at four.

He added Sanda and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to his arsenal at 17, but didn't dive headfirst into MMA just yet.

Instead, the Hunan-born fighter travelled to the United State to study Biology at Pennsylvania.

Combat sports, though, didn't leave him behind, as he began Sambo, wrestling and judo while in North America.

Huang found his way back home and, after taking some time to travel around China, landed at Big King in Beijing to begin his career in the sport.

Six months into training, he was at the top of his class, speeding up his learning curve and getting him set to shine for ONE.

"I felt great fighting for ONE," Huang said. "I love the rules, like how you can still kick a grounded opponent. How is that not exciting?"

When not in training, Huang teaches English thanks to his two-plus years spent in the US studying to others looking to learn the language.

He is also supported by his parents, who run a building materials company. His father is a Kung Fu master who helped influence his early choices in the sport.

The ONE featherweight division is currently ruled by Narantungalag Jadambaa, but the promotion has ran several tournaments to promote the rising stars of the weight class, including Huang.

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