With Asia’s biggest mixed martial arts championship coming to Dubai, Benita Adesuyan finds out what it’s all about.
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is considered to be one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and taking a look at the number of gyms and martial arts centres in the city that offer MMA classes, there’s little sign of its popularity waning.
MMA is a full combat sport, and a hybrid of fighting styles. Fighters can use any form they like to defeat their opponent, adapting techniques from karate, judo, boxing, jiu-jitsu, muay Thai and wrestling, and for many fans it’s seen as the ultimate in expressive martial arts.
Asia is the home of martial arts and the MMA movement in the region has boomed with regular televised fights, live shows and many of the fighters enjoying celebrity status. One Fighting Championship is Asia’s biggest MMA organisation, taking live fights around the world. On Friday August 29, the series makes a stop at Dubai World Trade Centre for fans to take in the action.
Victor Cui, CEO of the One Fighting Championship, is looking forward to bringing the spectacle of the fight to the city. ‘Dubai is such a hotbed for martial arts. There is such a passion for sports like Brazilian jiu-jitsu here that you cannot find anywhere else in Asia.’
The one-night-only event will feature nine fights and three world championship bouts, giving fighting fans plenty to cheer. The night will also showcase Dubai-based fighters Ali Walid and Vaughn Donayre.
Another first for MMA in Dubai will be the presence of female fighters. Although this has previously been something of a taboo in the male-dominated arena, Cui is proud of the sport’s inclusion of women. ‘The women’s bouts in ONE FC have been some of the most exciting fights to date. We have a roster of hungry women who are eager to prove themselves on the biggest stage and they always come ready to put on a show for the fans.’
The female fight night will feature Ann Osman from Malaysia, who is set to become the first Muslim MMA fighter to compete for a global organisation. The Malaysian will take on American-Filipino Ana Julaton, who is an IBA and WBO Super Bantamweight Champion boxer. ‘Both these women always put on incredible bouts and I’m sure this will be no different,’ says Cui.
One Fighting Championship: Reign of Champions. Tickets from Dhs150-Dhs2,000. Friday August 29, 6pm. Dubai World Trade Centre, Downtown Dubai, www.onefc.com (04 332 1000).
Where to train
MMA Fitness Centre
A dedicated MMA gym with group classes in various martial arts including muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Pacific Building, TECOM, www.mmafitcentre.com (04 367 5077).
This Al Quoz gym provides training by professional coaches, and offers women-only classes in boxing, capoeira and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Al Joud Building, Al Quoz www.miraman.ae (04 338 9148).
Pride Fitness and MMA Centre
Learn MMA techniques as well as single disciplines. The centre trains pro fighters as well as newcomers.
The Curve Building, Al Quoz, www.pridefitnesscentre.com (055 663 2124).
The lowdown on MMA
Bruno ‘Caveira’ Machado, 27, is a professional MMA fighter from Brazil who has been teaching MMA to beginners at Team Nogueira Dubai in Al Quoz. He gives us the run down on the sport.
What are the basic moves that you teach?
The double leg takedown: This is often used in wrestling. You dodge the punch by dropping down a level and lunging forward, grabbing the opponent’s knees, lifting him and turning him to the left, which allows you to gain control.
The rear choke. This submission hold is applied from the opponent’s back. The hold can be more effective by hooking the feet into the inside of the opponent’s thighs. The choke involves wrapping one arm around the opponent’s neck so that the inside of your elbow is placed against his throat. This will naturally place your bicep against one side of his neck and your forearm against the other side.
Boxing combinations. In any fight situation, you have to know how to throw a solid punch.
What are the rules in the ring?
The most common set of rules are the ones used by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Rounds are five minutes long, with each bout having three to five rounds. Even though it’s a freestyle fight there are still many rules such as no eye gouging, biting or hair pulling.
Is it safe?
There is a chance for injury, just like any sport, but those can be kept to a minimum if the right movements and basic techniques are learned.
What are the benefits of MMA training?
Weight loss, body toning, increased cardiovascular fitness, self-confidence and being able to defend yourself.