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Location: Sub continental Asia

Population Density (per square mile): 546

Despite its reputation for orthodoxy,

Pakistans provided little opposition to
a sport that some western detractors still
consider barbaric.

MMAs exploding in the most exotic

and surprising of places. FO captures the
birth throes of Earths first truly global sport


As Dana White once said: I take two guys and put
them in an Octagon and they can use any martial art
they want that transcends all culture barriers.
And from the Asian subcontinent to the Pacific
islands, from cradles of the sport like Thailand
to sports-mad South Africa, hes being
proved correct. We present the most
exotic and enthusiastic countries
embracing Mixed Martial Arts.

We have gotten none of the human

Outside Bashirs gym
cockfighting stuff, explains Lahore-based
Bashir Ahmad, who runs Pakistans only
MMA gym and sole promotion Pakistan
Warrior Challenge. Weve had superconservative types with the big beards
and turbans watch our events and then
immediately come and ask if they can get
on the card and fight as well. Despite the
interest, MMA in Pakistan is still in its infancy.
Bashir, who has a background in krav maga,
Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai, says; At
this point the events are similar to UFC 1,
with the whole style versus style set up.
Pakistan has not seen the evolution of MMA and so it is necessary to follow
some of the stages MMA has gone through overseas... People here are stuck
in the eighties when it comes to martial arts. Chuck Norris, ninjas and death
touches are still alive and well in the martial arts scene here.
MMA is very much a niche, underground sport in Pakistan, a nation slotted
in between India and Afghanistan. Pakistans largest city, Karachi, is the sole
receiver of televised MMA while fans elsewhere make do with internet
news sites or downloading video of events. Pakistan is a country with real
problems, however. Due to electricity shortages Bashir often conducts
training classes by gas lantern, and poverty within Lahore means children
begging on the street are commonplace. Wanting to help, Bashir decided to
give those children MMA lessons instead of money.


Waqqar Ahmad
Although Pakistans young MMA
scene means that some of
Waqqars fight experience came
against lesser opposition, the ease
with which hes dispatched with
them suggests a strong future.

I have about six street kids starting to train

MMA as well as learn their ABCs. My gym
notice board not only has the schedule but
a big alphabet chart for the kids to learn

The issue of security is omnipresent in

Pakistan. Terrorism presents a significant
threat and the scream of fighter jets
passing overhead towards Indian airspace
is standard. As a result, the military forms
much of Pakistans identity. Bashirs seeking
to channel that angst into MMA. So much
so that its incorporated in the gym logo crossed guns with boxing gloves
over the crescent and star of the nations flag. Bashir explains: I wanted that
image to draw in the individuals and youths most at risk and most wanting
to vent their anger. Dont like India? Screw joining a militant group, put on a
pair of gloves and win glory for your country that way.

By richard cartey


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south africa

What soccer is to Brazil, thats what fighting

is to Guam, affirms Joe Duarte, TUF alumnus
and Guams most successful mixed martial artist.

There are some areas of the world

where even MMAs behemoth
organisation, the UFC, fails to fully take hold.
South Africa may be one of them. But although the
country, perched at the base of the African continent,
receives no UFC programming or pay-per-views, the
sports still managed to explode.

Location: Southern tip of Africa

Population Density (per square mile): 104

Location: The Pacific

Population Density (per square mile): 839

A 209-square-mile island located in the Pacific Ocean, nationally Guam

shares a similar mentality to many great mixed martial artists. On Guam if
you canscrap people respect you. The same goes for Hawaii, says Joe.
Being a territory of the US, Guam enjoys all the same MMA-carrying
television channels as on mainland America despite actually being closer
to the Philippines. Combined with the welcoming attitude towards
fighting, theres no issue with social acceptance. Not only is it accepted,
its encouraged, confirms Joe. It gives young kids hope and allows them
to fight legally if thats what they chose to do. It provides entertainment,
gives people jobs and most of all it givesus islanders a reason to do what
we love to do. Local events like Rites of Passage are covered by native
news outlets, and theres even been an Enson Inoue-owned Purebred
Gym on the island since as early as 1999. Though some successful fighters
are unheard of in their home countries, Joe receives great support: an
indicator of the strength of the sport in Guam. Every time I fight I feel
like Im representing my culture, heritage and my island, says Joe. To
be honest, all I
ever wanted to
do was make it
to inspire other
Frank Camacho
people from
Having only gone to decision
Guam and show
once, fans are always likely to get
them they can
a show with The Crank. Seven
do anything if
TKO victories inside the first
they want it bad
round suggest theyll see his hand
raised early.

While MMA fans across the world have become hooked by watching the fighting
styles of favourites like Wanderlei Silva, Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell, in
South Africa its home-grown fighters like Darren Daniel, Chris Bright and Adam
Speechly from top promotion EFC Africa wielding the star power.
EFC Africa is all that the average person knows about MMA, confirms Cairo
Howarth, the director of the promotion launched late 2009. We promote
our fighters extensively: putting them on billboards on freeways, plus on radio
and TV interviews. The process has made them into celebrities. Africas
top sports channel, SuperSport, shows an hour-long EFC programme every
week highlighting three fights and pulling in ratings of around 150,000 people.
Broadband speeds in the country are slow, so fans of international MMA dont
even have the option of downloading events and instead often make do with
YouTube clips. For this reason EFC Africas shows, which draw nearly 6,000
spectators compared to around 1,500 that typically attend a boxing show, have
ensnared a strong fan base. Cairo Howarth states: South Africans love contact
sports like rugby so although MMA is relatively new to mainstream South Africa
its caught on rapidly. It still has a lot of catching up to do when compared to
rugby, soccer, cricket and cycling, but at its current pace itll soon be recognised
as one of the major participated-in and
watched sports.

south africa

Darren Daniel
Having fought both pro Muay
Thai and san shou bouts, and
competed in Chinas Art of War
promotion, this middleweight
is slowly becoming a star in his
home country.


Location: North-east corner of the former Soviet Union

Population Density (per square kilometre): 4

The Russian Far East is noted for its

freezing temperatures and prisons. But
even an area where during January the average
daily high is -12C cannot escape the lure of mixed
martial arts.
Organisations like Siberian Challenge and IAFC have all held MMA events
in the cities of the harsh terrain. Khabarovsk houses Draka, a federation that
holds mix-fight events near-identical to MMA. Due to the countrys strong
sporting history, a large number of the fighters who compete in events like
Siberian Challenge and Draka are from a sambo, boxing
or wrestling backgrounds. Oleg Butakov, communications
director for Draka, says: Traditional combat sports have
government support, and child sports groups where
future professionals start their career. Many Russian
professional fighters have passed through that route and
achieved success. Oleg confirms that due to Russias
success with traditional combat sports, mixed martial arts
draws Russians of varying ages and social backgrounds
with very little evidence of the sport being frowned upon.
Oleg states: Professional fighters are really very popular
and without question I can say that professional fighting
has great respect in Russia.

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Before MMAs recent boom as a result of

EFC Africas exposure, however, some South
African fighters made it overseas. Trevor
Prangley fought in the UFC and now competes
in Strikeforce. Jan The Giant Nortje has fought
MMA as well as K-1. With EFC Africa now
highlighting MMA to the sport-mad populace of
South Africa, expect that list to expand.


Location: South-east Asia

Population Density (per square mile): 324

Wentzel Nel training in South Africa



Magomed Shikshabekov 6-0

Winning all fights by stoppage
makes this Russian welterweights
unbeaten record one to note. That
theyve come from both striking and
submissions suggests a fearsomely
well-rounded prospect.

Though it has a rich heritage in Muay

Thai, currently one of the most popular
disciplines within MMA, its surprising that
Thailand and the countrys fight fanatics only faintly
register the sport so far.
Alex Berezovik, who runs the Bangkok Fight Club
mixed martial arts gym, explains that despite low
recognition the sport is growing slowly in the country.

EFC Africa

Lightweight champion, EFC Africa,

Wentzel Nel

MMA still isnt very popular in Thailand. Muay Thai

takes the crown of the most popular and most watched
fighting sport, followed by boxing, whiletraditional
martial arts like taekwondo are popular among middle
and upper class Thais. Alex says MMA isnt frowned
upon nor encountered legality issues in Thailand




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simply because it goes unnoticed by sports officials. Officially theres no

sanctioning body for the sport here in Thailand and it hasnt been licensed.
But we do have MMA training camps and facilities here and even hold
smaller MMA events from time to time. Indeed, despite popular gyms
such as Tiger Muay Thai And Mixed Martial Arts holding seminars with
personalities like Royce Gracie and Elvis Sinosic there still isnt a premier
organisation in the country. Alex explains: MMA is still very new here in
Thailand but it is getting more widespread. Considering the acutely skilled
stand-up technicians Thailand must be harbouring on its Muay Thai circuit,
many will hope the country thats already indirectly contributed so much to
the sport soon becomes an MMA nation.


Ngoo Ditty
Though Dittys even record
may not look imposing, having
over 150 Muay Thai fights and a
9-1 amateur MMA record
suggest theres promise in the


Location: Sub-continental Asia

Population Density (per square mile): 930

new zealand

hong kong


A lot of people didnt know what to

expect. Some thought that FCC would
probably be some karate tournament,
says Prashant Kumar, the organiser of Full Contact
Championships, one of Indias
small MMA promotions.
MMA fight at Tigers gym

Location: South-east coast of China

Population Density (per square mile): 16,442

MMA in New Zealand


hong kong

Kenny Yeung
A Hong Kong native who trains
out of Australia, Yueng may have
only just started his MMA career
but his background in Muay Thai
is likely to serve him well.

Being home to the late Bruce Lee (in

essence the original mixed martial artist)
combat arts are ingrained into the culture of Hong
Kong. Its something thats aiding the assimilation
of MMA into the countys culture says Michael
Haskamp, one of the men behind Hong Kongs
Legend FC promotion.
MMAs a sport thats quickly gaining popularity here. Hong Kong audiences
had never been exposed to MMA via any mass-market medium before
our first event. Since it began, in early 2010 with a show in front of 1,500
people, Legend FC has received an overwhelmingly positive response.
Michael says: Hong Kongs at such a cultural and economic crossroads that
people here are constantly being exposed to new things so theyre very
open-minded and forward-thinking. In this regard, one thing we focus on is
ensuring that people new to the sport see MMA for what it really is: highly
skilled and disciplined athletes who compete primarily for love of the sport.
MMA fans in Hong Kong have just recently been given the ability to watch
the sport on cable television but watching the pay-per-view events in a group
at a bar is common. Because of the time difference, most events are shown
early on Sunday mornings
but that doesnt stop
people from dragging
themselves out of bed
and heading down to
the pub with their
friends for MMA
over breakfast,
even if theyve had
a huge Saturday
night. It always
draws a big crowd.

But after attending my shows, they were

Location: Australasia
zapped out. Running since January 2009,
Population Density (per square mile): 41
FCCs found theres limited awareness of
MMA, but those who have been exposed
have responded well says Prashant. In a
Coming back home to New Zealand
nation that has little time for any sport other
after 14 years away was a bit of shock
than cricket and no regular MMA television
programming, FCC still manages to attract
for me, says Nyra Phillips, who runs NZMMA, an
around 300 people per event. Since I dont have an advertising budget,
MMA retail shop and online portal for the sport in
promotions are done through word of mouth and SMS,
the country.
explains Prashant. Tigers MMA Academy, in Nashik, is
the countrys top training facility and held the first event
After living in Hawaii for most
new zealand
in India during 2004, Clash of the Champions, organised
of that time where MMA has
by the All India Combat Sports Federation. Since then
Rod McSwain
such a high profile, MMA in
the promotion has held further contests and estimates
Holding two domestic titles
New Zealand was almost
to have pulled in between 1,000 and 5,000 spectators.
and being the head trainer at
non-existent and that
The UFC seems keen on India as a possible location for
Strike Force gym in Auckland
was in 2007. To put it into
a future event but Daniel Isaac, head trainer at Tigers
suggests that welterweight
perspective, that was when
MMA Academy, has some reservations. If the UFC can
Hot Rod McSwain has the
the first MMA cage arrived in
pull off an event in India itd be great. Of coursethered
ability to go far.
the country.
be some challenges and hurdles since India isnt a fighting
country and most Indians prefer Bollywood and cricket as
Though geographically close
a spectator sport rather than watching fights. But Daniel
to Australia, a recently targeted territory for the UFC, New Zealand is
adds: In India, MMA still has a long way to go to compete with other sports,
still laying the ground work for MMA, something thats not helped by a
but when MMA does become mainstream here it will be ready to rival
fragmented attitude towards MMA training, Nyra says. Gyms are still likely
cricket which is more religion than sport in India. Prashant Kumar feels
to offer stand-up and ground training rather than just MMA, and worse,
confident of a UFC events success in the country. India is a country with
most still prefer to protect their territory by preferring that their fighters
the numbers. In a city like Mumbai this is something that the youth would
dont cross-train with other gyms. Furthermore, television coverage has
really look forward to. In fact, MMA cuts across all age barriers, and could
been inconsistent. UFC pay-per-views started in earnest in 2008 but K-1,
attract huge crowds and a great response in India.
Dream and Showtime got dropped. Forget about watching
WEC, M-1 Global or any other pay-per-view. When The
Ultimate Fighter season six came out, Sky re-ran season
two and never got past season four. I still get people asking
me, Is UFC ever going to have another series?
Alan Fenandes
However, testament to the grassroots popularity of
The Bull has represented
MMA, there are a string of strong local events like ICNZ
India in MMA and BJJ across the
and Supremacy in Auckland that regularly draw around
world and was the first fighter
500 people. Furthermore over 1,000 people attend
from the country to fight mixed
Punishment in Dunedin and a recent kickboxing card in
martial arts abroad.
Auckland featured a headlining MMA fight with Japanese
Nyra Phillips
Olympic judoka, Satoshi Ishii.
used with permission of legend fighting championship


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