After a few failed attempts, the two middleweight warriors will finally square off in an important matchup of contenders. Like the turbulent road to get this matchup inside the Circle, Fan’s road to prominence was even tougher in northeastern China.
“In my memory, there was always ice on the road, snow on trees and cars, and people wearing a lot of clothes. The Chinese call us the toughest people in the country. I guess cold weather gives you a hard life, and a hard life builds tough guys,” Fan told ONE.
The Chinese star remarked about his town being rough with crazy things happening routinely. As such, his parents did not bat an eye when he chose a life in martial arts.
The first inkling for Fan that he had a natural gift for the sport came when he was in school. He began with Sanda and quickly surpassed his classmates. His prowess was recognized even in his final job before turning to mixed martial arts full-time.
“I was a member of the armed police force. And not so long after I joined, they selected me as the martial arts coach of the women’s special force in the Sichuan province. I finished my service there and retired as a private in 2015,” said Fan.
To reach the next level, Fan needed next-level training. For that, he found Jiang Longyu.
Jiang is a ONE veteran himself and a notable figure for Chinese MMA. The middleweight athlete credits his coach for his arrival on the global stage.
“I’m lucky to have the best coach and gym so I could focus on my career, becoming the best middleweight of China’s new generation of MMA,” Fan said.
“Ask anyone in China in our industry, nobody wouldn’t know his name. And the fact is, almost everyone in China who’s now fighting on the global stage has somehow related to him. And even today, he still coaches us himself, wrestles with us, spars with us. Just a legend who’s always being a role model for the young ones. I will always see him as my biggest inspiration.”
To reach the pinnacle goes beyond just the physical, and that is an area where Jiang has had just as much influence on Fan. “King Kong Warrior” is taking that advice ahead of his massive battle inside the 1stBank Center.
“He’s giving you one piece of little advice every single day, about how you should eat, how you should rest, or how you should take care of yourself, and he’s always there with you. But when you look back, all of those ideas and pieces of advice converge into a life guide of how to be a real man,” said Fan.
With the opportunity to knock off a certified legend of the game, Fan is excited for the opportunity at ONE Fight Night 10. He is taking nothing for granted ahead of the most stacked event of the year.
“I’m thrilled and honored to be on such a big event, facing such a big opponent. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I must take it. I will shine on that day and show the world that I’m one of the best middleweights who deserves to get a title shot.”
ONE Fight Night 10 airs live and free on Prime Video on Friday, May 5. The event begins for all U.S. and Canadian Amazon Prime subscribers at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
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