Australian-bred fighter will be flying the flag for the Kingdom when he takes on French lightweight Arnaud Lepont
Cambodian fight fans are bracing themselves for the ONE FC juggernaut rolling into town on September 12, with one match up in particular on the 10-bout mixed martial arts card set to ignite an explosive reaction.
Australian-bred MMA fighter Suasday Chau will be flying the flag for the Kingdom, the birthplace of both of his parents, when he takes on French lightweight Arnaud Lepont in front of an expected sellout crowd at Koh Pich Theater.
Chau, 33, was born in a refugee camp on the Thai border with Cambodia and moved to Australia with his family when he was two.
Martial arts took a firm hold of him from the tender age of seven, beginning with karate before progressing into judo and tang soo do. More recently, kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills have been added to form a strong base as a cage fighter.
With years of experience under his belts, including two blacks, Chau became a martial arts and fitness trainer in Adelaide. He currently manages a 24/7 Snap Fitness Gym.
Interestingly, an enquiry about competing from one of his Cambodian students, Dave Meak, first turned him onto the prospect of entering MMA bouts.
“I knew the theory side to preparing athletes to compete,” Chau told the Post. “However, I believed it would be better for me to compete myself and learn first-hand what it’s really like.
“Needless to say, after nine fights – two as an amateur, seven as a professional – I am thoroughly enjoying the process of developing into a well-rounded mixed martial artist.”
Chau’s pro MMA record stands at 4-3, although his next fight is clearly a defining moment in his career.
“When I first heard that ONE FC were planning on holding their first event in Cambodia, I immediately went to work getting my name on the card,” he said.
“I am humbled, truly honoured and so excited to be part of this.”
Chau says he is unaware of any other Cambodian living in Australia who is a professional mixed martial artist, although he does know some who compete in Muay Thai and BJJ.
“My brother Charlie was the World Muay Thai Council amateur lightweight champion. So proud of him,” he added.
Chau is also branching into the fashion industry with his new apparel business Chaukaizen, a portmanteau of his family name and the Cambodian word for excellence, which launched last month.
Thanks to backing from Kingmaker Foundation director and Cambodian Body Building and Fitness Federation president Rasmey Sokmongkol, Chau last month made a whistle-stop five-day tour of the capital, the first time he’d set foot in his ancestral homeland.
“I met [National Olympic Committee of Cambodia secretary general] Vath Chamroeun, various media outlets, local business owners and managed only to do a little discovering in my down time,” said Chau. “I plan on staying behind a week after the [ONE FC] event to see Phnom Penh and Siem Reap better with my friends.
“Phnom Penh has so much energy. [Its] vibrant, fairly developed, has many tourists and expats. The locals were truly polite and always smiling. Now I know why I smile all the time – it’s in our DNA.”
Inspired by his brief taste of local life, Chau said he would look to find a way of giving something back and making a difference in Cambodia.
“Whether that means teaching martial arts, setting up a school, sponsoring, volunteering, donating – all will be considered.”
Chau also noted that he’d used the trip to gauge how his body would take cutting weight over long distances and time periods. “It doesn’t,” he admitted.
“I will, for the time being, compete at lightweight until I become more accustomed and confident travelling and competing.”
When pressed on tactics he will be employing in his bout against Lepont on September 12, Chau said: “Can’t tell you that, as it would be used against me.”
However, he did reveal that win or lose, all of his pro fights had ended within two rounds, with victories coming via submissions.
Training has been ratcheted up to two daily workouts five times per week, as well as a Saturday session consisting of Muay Thai, BJJ and strength conditioning.
The spectacle of Suasday Chau entering the ONE FC cage for the first time will be easily matched by Arnaud ‘The Game’ Lepont, who has become well known for his rousing entrances and unbridled charisma.
“As always, ONE FC fans will be rewarded to be there, witnessing the show live,” Lepont told the Post.
“I always give my best to entertain them and bring hell in the cage. It’s a mark of my respect and love to do my best, to prepare something unique for them.
“Once again, when my entrance music rocks Koh Pich Theatre of Phnom Penh, when [ring announcer] Lenne Hardt calls my name, I will bring the heat and I will make the fans cheer and stand up on their seats with excitement.”
Having previously based himself out of Thailand and Malaysia, the 34-year-old now finds himself settled in Vietnam, where he is head coach for MMA and conditioning at Saigon Sports Club.
“I am trying to be well rounded. and am training my cardio for this fight,” he said. “I want to be able to be more aware, alert and ready for what my opponent is planning to bring, but I also want to enjoy the fight.”
Lepont (10-4) has lost his last three bouts at ONE FC, albeit against top opponents including lightweight champion Shinya Aoki and former champion Kotetsu Boku.
“I don’t pick my opponents. I go for what ONE FC wants to give me, and I don’t want any easy fights,” he said.
“Suasday is still green in ONE FC. but he has a lot of experience in fighting and has beaten some tough guys ... He is young, ruthless, aggressive and likes to push the pace of the fight.
“I am sure he knows that I have heavy hands, a good chin and I am always OK to stand and bang.
“I am coming to give what the fans want to see … they want to see drama, they want to see a good fight and they want to see heroes.
“I hope Chau is ready for me, because I want to put on the fight of the night and share with him the fight of the night bonus.”
Lepont is no newcomer to the Kingdom, having holidayed here twice before.
“I am planning to stay a couple of days more after the fight to take a little time to visit this beautiful city,” he said. “Come shake my hand if you see me – I am always accessible to my fans.”