Tianjin Top Team’s Ma Jia Wen has matured, both as a person and as a mixed martial artist.
Once a spoilt child who had no shortage of problems caused by a terrible temper, martial arts has helped the hot-headed young man to control his emotions, and calmed the storm that once raged inside him.
“Due to my temper, I got into many fights with other kids, and my parents were constantly being called to the principal’s office,” he recalls. “I was eventually expelled from elementary school in the fourth grade.
“Now, I have become a much more composed person when compared to the past. I do not get angry as often as before. I am a much calmer person now. I have learned to enjoy spending time with my family during my time off. I have become more optimistic in general.”
As a result, Ma heads into his bout against Indonesian veteran Yohan Mulia Legowo at ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM calm, composed, and with a great sense of confidence. The bout takes place on 11 March, Saturday night, at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.
Not that the young Ma was ever short of confidence to start with. He has fought exclusively in ONE Championship since debuting with the promotion over two years ago, putting together a respectable 3-2 record that belies his 20 years of age.
After finishing second in the ONE Guangzhou Featherweight Tournament, he got back into the win column with a thrilling victory over his compatriot Wang Ya Wei, but fell once more in his next bout to young phenom Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev.
Most recently, Ma scored a TKO victory over Filipino stalwart Jimmy Yabo, a man much more experienced than he was.
He faces a similar situation against Legowo. A fight veteran of over 15 years, Ma’s opponent Legowo (8-5) is an Indonesian Kickboxing and Submission Grappling Champion who has finished all his wins in the very first round.
“Legowo is much more seasoned than me. I would say that he is better experienced in the fight game, but I do not know much about him. I am very confident of my own skill set, however,” Ma states. “I will be aggressive come fight night. I will end the fight early.”
It is a bold prediction coming from a bold man. However, Ma’s faith in his abilities is not unwarranted. The wrestling standout proved to be a prodigy in the sport, rising rapidly through the ranks to place second in a national wrestling meet in China when he was just 16 years old.
That proved to be the catalyst for his MMA career, as wrestling was how he first met his current teammates at Tianjin Top Team. They invited him to train with them, and he proved to be an incredibly quick study, picking up new techniques with east. The rest, as they say, was history.
Despite his talent, however, Ma remains humble, and is well aware of how much he still has to learn.
“I am still very young in the game of MMA. Learning different arts and putting them together is an art in its own right,” says Ma. “Constant repetition and more fight experience will build my confidence, and confidence in my skills is the key to enhancing my performance in a fight.”
Armed with the right attitude, the future seems bright for the young man from Tianjin. Whether he realizes his true potential or not would depend on his performance against Legowo on Saturday night.