From thug to top MMA fighter

FIGHTING SPIRIT: Benedict Ang, 21, feels that mixed martial arts (MMA) is a sport that cannot be done half-heartedly. Photo courtesy of Benedict Ang

Reeling from his mother’s sudden death in 2011, Benedict Ang lost interest in his studies and got into fights in school.

He was on the verge of being a full-fledged gangster when he was shown a YouTube video of the first One Fighting Championships event in Singapore.

Intrigued, he enrolled in a mixed martial arts (MMA) gym as he thought it was a good leisure activity. Since then, the 21-year-old has not got into another fight outside the ring.

Benedict, who trains at Evolve MMA, is considered one of Singapore’s top fighters. The third-year Sports Coaching student recently lost his unbeaten record in the ring to Ahmed Mujtaba of Pakistan at the One Championship’s Defending Honour event. But the November 2016 loss has not dampened Benedict’s spirits.

He said: “I felt a little bitter, but when I look back, there are things that I did well and some that I could improve on. I don’t dwell on it much and instead move on and keep improving myself for future fights.”

While he is now one of Singapore’s top fighters, many of Benedict’s relatives voiced concern about his entry into the sport. But Benedict’s father remains his number one fan.

“Of course my relatives are not so supportive of me because this is Singapore – they want you to study well and have a degree,” said Benedict. “My father does worry that I will get hurt. But despite that, he gives me the support I need and encourages me to follow my heart.”

Despite his competitive nature, Benedict finds time to train young children. In his spare time, he helps to facilitate Brazilian jiu-jitsu for kids and thoroughly enjoys himself.

“I’m just happy to be able to help the kids in their martial arts journey. Seeing them enjoy themselves while learning and be part of their journey makes it worth the while,” he said.

Benedict’s focus now is on his studies, but he plans to fight again in May. For anyone interested in venturing into MMA, Benedict warns that it is a sport that cannot be done half-heartedly.

He said: “Find the right coach and the right team and be prepared to be dedicated to doing this. You cannot take MMA as a game or a hobby. Even if you go in prepared, you still can get hurt badly – imagine going in unprepared.”