China is universally regarded as being the spiritual home of martial arts and is the country which gave the world Wushu, Sanshou, Sanda and numerous forms of Kung Fu as well as spawning iconic movies starring the likes of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.
With ONE Championship putting on shows in cities across China martial artists from the country are finally getting an opportunity to compete on the global stage and showcase their talent to fight fans all over the world. Here is a list of MMA fighters who have a background in Chinese martial arts. It combines some stars from the past with touted young prospects:
1) Muslim Salikhov
Muslim Salikhov is originally from Dagestan but has spent much of his career training and competing in China.
Nicknamed ‘The King of Kung Fu’, Salikhov is a five-time Wushu Sanda world champion, taking the gold at the World Championships in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011, as well as gold at the World Combat Games in 2013.
Salikhov holds a pro MMA record of 6-1.
In February 2006, he participated in the first international King of Sanda tournament in Chongqing and became the first non-Chinese to win the title.
2) Eduard Folayang
Four years ago, Eduard Folayang won a gold medal in Wushu at the Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta with a spinning back kick KO just a few weeks after defeating A Sol Kwon in the main event of the inaugural ONE Championship event in Singapore.
The Filipino began training in Wushu at the age of 16 and is a decorated Wushu practitioner who won bronze at the World Championships in 2005 and Asian Games in 2002, and claimed a silver at the Asian Games in 2006.
His MMA record stands at 14-5 and he holds a win over former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu Boku.
3) Cung Le
Cung Le is a three-time World Wushu Championships Sanshou bronze medallist who also went undefeated in his kickboxing career before taking up competitive MMA.
In 2007 he was voted 'Kung Fu artist of the year’ by Black Belt Magazine.
He captained the the U.S. team captain at the World Wushu Championships in 1997 (Italy) and 1999 (Hong Kong) but is best known for his accomplishments inside the MMA cage.
Cung was the Strikeforce 185 lbs champion and his pro record stands at 9-3.
4) Liu Xiao Yang
Liu Xiao Yang burst onto the MMA scene with a brutal knockout of Nicholas Lee at ONE: VALOR OF CHAMPIONS.
He is a member of the Sanda team at the X'ian Sports Institute and has won numerous local tournaments.
A veteran of over 100 Sanda fights, Liu currently holds a budding MMA record of 2-2, and after such a stunning ONE Championship debut, we are likely to see much more of this 23-year-old Sanda veteran and his elite level striking.
5) Li Wei Bin
At the age of 18, Li Wei Bin is one of the most exciting prospects in China and has already won two fights out of two for ONE Championship, winning the Beijing Flyweight Tournament in the process.
Li actually began his martial arts career at the legendary Shaolin Temple in Zhengzhou.
This 1,000-year-old monastery has been described as 'The Cradle of Kung Fu’ and monks have been practising martial arts there since 495 AD.