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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.
MMAs exploding in the most exotic and surprising of places. FO captures the birth throes of Earths first truly global sport
pAkisTANlocation: sub continental AsiaPopulation Density (per square mile): 546
Despite its reputation for orthodoxy, Pakistans provided little opposition to a sport that some western detractors still consider barbaric.
we have gotten none of the human cockfighting stuff, explains lahore-based Bashir Ahmad, who runs Pakistans only MMA gym and sole promotion Pakistan warrior challenge. weve had super-conservative 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.
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 with.
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.
WAqqAR AHMAD 4-0Although 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.
rising tAlEnt FrOM PAKistAn
outside Bashirs gym
By RiCHARD CARTEy
74 NEW MMA HoTspoTs
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soUTH AFRiCAlocation: southern tip of AfricaPopulation Density (per square mile): 104
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.
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.
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.
siBERiAlocation: north-east corner of the former soviet UnionPopulation 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.
DARREN DANiEl 4-1Having 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.
rising tAlEnt FrOM sOUth AFricA
MAGoMED sHiksHABEkov 6-0Winning 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.
rising tAlEnt FrOM siBEriA
GUAMlocation: the PacificPopulation Density (per square mile): 839
what soccer is to Brazil, thats what fighting is to guam, affirms Joe Duarte, tUF alumnus and guams most successful mixed martial artist.
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 can scrap 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 gives us 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 people from guam and show them they can do anything if they want it bad enough.
FRANk CAMACHo 10-2Having only gone to decision once, fans are always likely to get a show with The Crank. seven Tko victories inside the first round suggest theyll see his hand raised early.
rising tAlEnt FrOM gUAM
THAilANDlocation: south-east AsiaPopulation Density (per square mile): 324
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.
MMA still isnt very popular in thailand. Muay th