Singapore teen Amir Khan knocks out Malaysian veteran in professional MMA debut

Cheryl Tay
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When Singaporean Amir Khan first moved to the United States four years ago to pursue his mixed martial arts (MMA) dream, he never thought he would be fighting for Asia’s largest promotion so soon.

But the 19-year-old Evolve Fight Team member seized his chance when it came knocking, and convincingly won on his professional debut in ONE Fighting Championship in Cambodia on Friday.

All it took was two minutes and 25 seconds in the first round for Amir to knock out Malaysia’s Jian Kai Chee (now 4 wins, 5 losses) in an intense battle which saw Chee, 29, felled by a flurry of brutal blows concluded by a finishing strike to the eye.

Amir's hard-hitting approach bothered Chee from the off. (Photo by Cheryl Tay)

“My plan was to keep consistent pressure and mix up my strikes and takedowns to keep him guessing. I felt very excited about the fight as it is my first time fighting for ONE FC,” Amir told Yahoo after.

“I maintained my composure and executed my game plan to perfection in order to take the victory. The fight went really smooth, exactly the way my coaches and I planned.”

Amir utlising his deadly knees (Photo by Cheryl Tay)

Striking specialist

Muay Thai is obviously Amir's strong suit and he first picked up the sport in his early teens in an attempt to get stronger.

He realised he had a talent for it when, at just 14, he bagged a championship belt in Phuket, Thailand on top of scoring a few victories back in Singapore.

Amir set his sights on pursuing MMA while the Asian landscape was still nascent and made the brave move to Shreveport, Los Angeles, to train at Karate Mafia MMA Gym.

During his time there, he racked up an impressive amateur MMA record of four wins and no losses, and also competed in Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling.

Amir closing the lid on Chee's hopes (Photo by Cheryl Tay)

“I moved to the States to learn MMA at a time before I knew Asia was going to be big in MMA," Amir explained. "It was never a permanent move, mainly to train myself in MMA and to experience living in a different environment."

“As the Asian MMA scene grew rapidly, I wanted to be part of it but to be honest, did not expect it to be this soon, so I am very grateful.”

Amir moving in to seal the deal on a dazed Chee (Photo by Cheryl Tay)

Golden opportunity

As destiny would have it, Amir was asked to try out for the Evolve Fight Team at an excellent time, having already completed his high school diploma. He subsequently made the cut and earned a contract with ONE FC to go.

Now that he has the perfect start to his pro-MMA career, Amir is hoping to fight again soon -- specifically in the upcoming "Battle of Lions" event in hometown Singapore on 7 November.

“Making it to the Evolve Fight Team has changed my life. Training with the various world champions there has increased my confidence and I hope I get to fight in front of my home crowd for the first time in November,” he added.

Unfortunately, there is one potential stumbling block: National Service (NS) enlistment.

“I don’t have my enlistment date yet so I will just continue to train and prepare for fights. The two years of NS will delay my progress, but I believe everything happens for a reason and time will come for me to shine eventually. I just have to be patient,” Amir said with a smile.

Meanwhile, his Evolve teammate Radeem Rahman, the only other Singaporean also in action in Cambodia, suffered a different fate that night by losing via unanimous decision to Taiwanese MMA pioneer Sung Ming Yen.

“I felt good, calm and confident going into the fight and I do feel that I could have done much better," said Radeem. "But in sports you either win or lose. It wasn’t my day this time but I will learn from my mistakes and bounce back stronger after this setback.”

Amir celebrates with ONE FC ring girl Mel Tan