SINGAPORE - After winning against the odds in Bangkok and Manila, mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Syafiq Abdul Samad is looking to impress his own fans when he steps into the cage this Saturday night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
It is not a mission the 20-year-old is taking lightly.
"I'm excited and ready for the fight although I'm a little bit nervous," said Syafiq, who goes by the ring name of The Slasher after surviving a machete attack in Bedok six years ago.
"This is my toughest fight and it is in front of my friends and family, so there is extra pressure on me. This is my chance to show them that I am good at this so I don't want to let them down."
He faces South Korea's Hwang Gyo Pyung in the co-main event of Rebel Fighting Championship's inaugural card, which features 12 contests.
Victory will earn him $3,000 while a defeat means he will leave the arena with $2,000.
The Juggernaut Fight Club instructor - and Republic Polytechnic student - beat Brazil's Wesley Machado at a Pacific Xtreme Combat show in the Philippines in May.
He had also disposed of Hong Kong's Donald Tong in an underground MMA fight in Thailand the previous year.
Sandwiched between those triumphs - which he entered as the underdog - was a first-round boxing victory over Briton James Goyder at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS).
Syafiq has signed a one-fight deal with Rebel and hopes to defeat Hwang decisively to invite further opportunities.
"He has been saying he will try to submit me but I don't know if he is just playing mind games," said the former national amateur boxer who has also fought in professional muay thai contests in Thailand and Malaysia.
"I'm just going to concentrate and be strong in every department. If I win in style, then it will be another step forward for me."
One potential avenue to pursue is a spot in a future Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) show, with the American outfit visiting MBS for the first time on Jan 4.
Impact MMA's Royston Wee will be the Singaporean interest on that bill.
"Anyone involved in mixed martial arts dreams of fighting for the UFC," said Syafiq.
"Royston has been given a chance and I hope he can prove to all the naysayers that he belongs there.
"I just need to keep working hard and maybe I will get a chance in the future.
"Rebel's good enough to give me this opportunity and so that is all I am concentrating on at the moment."
Tickets, priced from $38 for two, are available from Sistic
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.