In Ronald Low’s first professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fight, the Singaporean displayed an arsenal of lightning-quick punches, vicious kicks and knees, and a killer choke that forced his larger, more experienced and visibly stunned opponent’s surrender – all within 30 seconds.
The pale, skinny 25-year-old is also incredibly shy, polite and all-around nice.
In other words, Low simply does not resemble the lethal fighter you can see in the video below. But don’t be fooled. The lad’s track record speaks for itself, and as Yahoo! Singapore found out ahead of Low’s ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) debut this Friday, he’s also crystal clear about his passion for combat sport and what it means to him.
Under the muay Thai tutelage of decorated instructor Darren de Silva, the 1.76-metre-tall Low blossomed from fanboy to force of nature. He had his first fight within a year, and to this day remains undefeated after seven bouts.
Low then took notice of the ground fighting styles practiced by his teammates at Fight G. Coupled with a diet of the wildly popular Pride Fighting Championships shows in Japan, the business marketing graduate fell hard for MMA, and decided to make the switch. “MMA is so versatile, and really enjoyable. I have so much fun doing it,” said Low.
So it’s safe to say he was having fun while utterly destroying his opponent in the fight described above.
Despite having just that single contest to his name, de Silva saw fit to offer Low the “opportunity of a lifetime” when Asian MMA powerhouse ONE FC came knocking a month ago.
It was an easy decision – even though Low had just moved to Hong Kong for a postgraduate degree in gemology. “It’s a dream of mine to fight in a big promotion like ONE FC,” Low admitted. “And it would be achieving something after years of training… a milestone in life.”
With just three weeks left to the fight, de Silva flew to Hong Kong to guide his protégé, who had to juggle intensive training with his studies.“Wake up, train, go to school, train again, do homework, sleep, repeat the next day,” said Low.
He can rest assured in his coach’s confidence in his ability. “I consider it a win if my fighter fights hard with courage and does all he can do,” said de Silva. “It takes a lot of guts to step in a cage and fight in front of 16,000 people.”
“Ronald is ready.”
The fighter within
Low will be the sole Singaporean competing this Friday, and facing him is Malaysian youngster Chen Yun Ting in a contest hyped by organisers as an extension of the fierce Singapore-Malaysia rivalry.
But Low dismissed any talk of pressure to win for Singapore. “It’s more of excitement,” he said. “I can’t wait to go for the event.”
Unsurprisingly, Low would rather see himself as fighting for the club that he’s stuck with for close to a decade. “It’s a big thing representing Fight G, and the team who’ve kicked, punched, shoved, taken me down and whooped my ass into shape.”
Low, ever-smiling, turned solemn for a moment here. “This fight is also for a friend of mine, Nigel Tan, who passed away recently – a 19-year-old martial artist at the peak of his fitness, yet out of the blue, he just died.”
At this juncture, when asked to predict the outcome of the fight, Low showed a glimpse of the steel and fire burning beneath his gentle, unassuming demeanour. “I’m sure as hell not going in there to lose.”
He also spoke of the people who inspire him daily. “The fighters and trainers I’ve met in MMA - they can kick your ass, but they’re also the nicest guys in the world.”
What is it about kicking ass that he loves so much? “Every time you fight… at that point, in that moment, you really find out who you really are,” Low mused.
Who we are as Singaporeans, unfortunately, isn’t all that simple – a fact that he is well aware of. “I don’t know if I can fight fulltime, with my school and in future, work commitments.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever stop training, but… we’re already 2 years behind everyone else because of National Service,” said Low, who stays in Tanah Merah with his mother and sister. “We’ve got to make up for lost time.”
Still, he refused to stay negative for long, brightening when returned to the present and the ONE FC experience that awaits him. “Can’t complain much, I’ve got a nice big fight coming along, I’ve got to train hard… life is good,” Low chuckled.
His fitness coach, Ian Tan, had nothing but praise for the young martial artist. “Ronald has amazing work ethic… so respectful and humble, with no ego in training and fighting.”
“He’s also completely not what you would expect from a fighter,” Tan joked.
For his next opponent, judging Low too quickly could well be the last mistake he makes.