Wee rides home support to victory

Wee rides home support to victory

He had the weight of the local mixed martial arts (MMA) community on him, and was up against a younger and taller opponent. But Royston Wee, Singapore’s first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter, delivered in front of a partisan crowd of 5,000 at Marina Bay Sands last night. Amid chants of “Royston, Royston” throughout his fight, the 27-year-old MMA coach defeated Dave Galera of the Philippines by a unanimous decision (30-26) in UFC’s Fight Night Singapore, its inaugural South-east Asia show.

Said Wee, who fell to his knees in tears after announcer Joe Martinez declared him the winner: “At first I thought I would feel the pressure but, once I stepped in the Octagon, I felt great. When I was tired, the home crowd really helped me a lot.

“I did not execute my game plan fully, but this is what happens in a fight.”

Wee, conscious of Galera’s longer reach and superior stamina, tried to take his opponent down and engage the 25-year-old on the ground in the bantamweight bout. It nearly backfired when Galera executed an illegal kick to Wee’s face while on the ground, but Wee – who trains at Impact MMA – recovered to last the three rounds. Officials also deducted a point from the Filipino for the infringement.

“I was just a little bit stunned by the kick. It didn’t rock me or anything”, said Wee, who intends to go for a holiday next, having trained full time since last June. The show was a hit with the lively audience, who cheered the take-downs and big hits and jeered when the pace slowed down.

Said Andri Francesco, an Indonesia tourist: “It’s the first UFC event, so I thought I’d check it out for the experience.

“Also, I’ve never seen real fighting before. The only fights I’ve watched are those from the World Wrestling Entertainment.

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