A five-fight pro, Paul Cheng has won three of his last four fights and owns a 1-0 record in the ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) cage. Now, the 4-1 heavyweight has his sights set on Mahmoud Hassan, who will look to rain on Cheng’s homecoming parade.
In an exclusive interview with Yahoo! Sports, Cheng spoke about where he stands a little less than a month before his fight on 11 July.
“Fighting in Taiwan is like a dream come true. I left Taiwan in August 1987 with my family to Canada and now I get to return home to fight for my country. This will be a very emotional night for me as my family and friends will be in attendance and my mother will be watching me fight live for the first time. I'm getting a bit emotional just thinking about it, I hope I can keep it all in till after the fight," said the 35-year-old.
He added, “I'm extremely excited to step back in the ONE FC cage; this time in my hometown of Taipei, Taiwan where I was born and raised. Words cannot describe how excited I am. When I received my fight contract I think I signed it within 30 minutes and sent it back five times.”
Cheng hopes to build upon his last showing, when “Typhoon” competed on December 6, finishing Alain Ngalani by strikes at ONE FC: Moment of Truth. As is common when Cheng is in the cage, the bout didn’t leave the first round.
“Alain was a very tough opponent with a lot of experience in the stand up and his ground game was better than I expected. The win gave me a ton of confidence after I was able to finish him in the first round. After the victory I felt like I belonged on the international fight scene and I want to prove that I am one of the best heavyweights in the world.”
The road to becoming recognized as one of the best big men in the world starts with his fight against Hassan. The fight at National Taiwan University Sports Center in Taipei City, Taiwan will be the first time the largest MMA promotion in Asia has held an event in “The City of Azaleas.”
With the pressure of familiar faces and a massive fan crowd in the sold-out arena, it is more important than ever that Cheng fine tune his game for a dangerous opponent like Hassan.
“My all-around MMA game has dramatically improved over the last few years. I started out as a boxer and wrestler, but as the years progressed I've added a lot of other tools to my arsenal. The improvement in my Muay Thai, and especially the improvements in my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game, has been phenomenal. The one loss I have I was a one stripe white belt and today I'm a four stripe blue belt on my way to getting my purple belt. This camp I have been working on some Judo to add more tools. I feel like a more complete fighter and I will show it that night.”
For his age, there is no time like the present for Cheng to grab hold of ONE FC’s premier heavyweight division and not let go. The first step begins at ONE FC: War of Dragons and if all goes to plan, the former Canadian Football League standout will have the one accolade that drives him in everything he does.
“My goal is to be ONE FC heavyweight champion. It is up to Victor Cui and Matt Hume to give me that title shot, but when I get that call I will be ready. I believe I am ready now.”