As a mid-20s Millennial whose passions lie in reading, writing and theatre, I was certain that the one industry my journalism career would never end up in was sports. And yet, here I am, a newly acclimated journalist for FightGeek, a digital media and data research company covering MMA in Asia.
For your reference, I’m that person who tripped on the court during a game of Captain’s Ball, bloodied her knees and had to be taken out of the game, all while guarding the empty half of the court. The one who would walk along the edge of a soccer field and somehow get hit in the head with the ball. The girl with her nose buried in a book while her friends played a game of basketball, tried to help return the stray basketball, and ended up throwing it in the opposite direction of the game.
It’s been a full month since I started my journey with FightGeek, and I have to say, it’s been an intense orientation thus far. My time since has been spent watching MMA fights, reading sports analytics textbooks, scouring the web for news on MMA’s history, present and future. I went in shaking, fearful of this brand new world, but within a month, I’ve come out a fanatic.
As I watched the MMA fights in Asia and analysed pre- and post-fight interviews, I was struck by the common themes that drive each fighter: Family, honour, respect, tradition, discipline, humility, integrity, courage; every fighter goes into a fight upholding what martial arts means to us as Asians.
UFC typically dominates the mainstream media, promising enmity, passion and no holds barred agression. What I saw in the MMA scene in Asia, especially that of ONE Championship, was completely different. Each fighter emphasises the honouring of their family, the respect that martial arts commands, and giving their whole heart to a good fight. With each value they upheld, these MMA fighters commanded a huge amount of respect, love, and immediate fan-girling in me.
The deeper I delved into understanding MMA in Asia, the stronger it appealed. As a journalist, it’s my duty to understand a topic fully before writing in order to uphold journalistic integrity. What it doesn’t require me to do is feel passionately for the topic. Having written for wedding, banking, and wine industries, going into the MMA scene was initially perceived as just another industry to add to my extensive repertoire.
And yet, in a short period of time, I’ve found myself hooked on MMA. For someone who shudders at fight scenes, trips on flat pathways daily, and prefers yoga to running, Martial Arts has become a skill I aspire to gain. To be surrounded by such passionate individuals, battling it out to test which combination of combat styles can most efficiently defeat your opponent, all while appreciating what your competitor brings to the cage… MMA is truly a beautiful sport.
With the upcoming ONE Championship: “Warrior Kingdom” event happening on 11 March at Impact Arena, Bangkok, I am thrilled to experience and cover my very first MMA fight card. Watch this space as I journey through the world of Mixed Martial Arts!