With mixed martial arts (MMA) arguably the fastest growing sport in the world right now, the global phenomenon has seen all sorts of stars emerge from various countries.
The sport’s biggest star is Irish maverick Conor McGregor, recently announced as returning after a two-year absence to face undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
One Championship atomweight champion Angela Lee is currently Singapore’s biggest MMA star, but is there a Singaporean McGregor waiting in the wings?
Enter 23-year-old Amir Khan nicknamed the “Golden Boy”, who fights in the same weight class as McGregor and shares the Irishman’s penchant for knockouts.
At such a young age, the “Golden Boy” has been competing in MMA longer than most fighters his age.
Amir, who trains at MMA gym Evolve, will soon compete in his 14th bout against former One featherweight champion Honorio Banario – a fight many see as one where the winner will go on to challenge for the lightweight belt.
Out of those 14 fights, Amir earned his reputation as a knockout artist by stopping eight opponents.
He told Business Insider: “When I knock (an opponent) out, I feel like it’s war.”
On the McGregor-Nurmagomedov clash, Amir – a lightweight fighter himself (70kg) – has his own thoughts about how the fight will go down.
“I feel like its a good match up. Khabib had some trouble in his last fight, and with his opponent not being that good of a striker, he still exposed Khabib. With Conor, if you make a small mistake, he can catch you with his left hand.
“If Conor catches (Khabib) before he can grab onto him, then it’ll be a bad night for Khabib. If Khabib is careful and doesn’t make a mistake, and he gets the takedown, it’ll be a long night for Conor. I say Conor, I’m rooting for him.”
The world of MMA is complicated. Fights can end before you blink, and fighters are getting much better with larger skill sets.
Even Amir’s next opponent, who says he used to be “one-dimensional”, has improved, and Amir thinks that he has cracked the code for what makes the best fighters so great.
“The most important thing in MMA right now is unpredictability. The more unpredictable you are, people can’t train for you. You still need great power, strength and endurance but you need to add the mental aspect (of unpredictability).”
So, how does Amir think his next fight will end, and what’s next?
“I feel like I can finish my opponent within two rounds, and then I’ll get the (title) shot.”
He’s hoping to get a chance to win the lightweight belt from current champion Martin Nguyen at the November card in Singapore, but Amir is focused on Banario now, whom he challenges on Sept 8 at the Boashan Sports Center in Shanghai.