The newly formed Cambodian Mixed Martial Arts Association is looking to go full steam in building a talent bank to turn traditional Cambodian boxers into cage fighting stars.
Former French champion David Minetti, who represented Cambodia as the CMMAA Technical Director at the 2013 One Asia MMA Summit in Singapore on May 2-4, is confident that Cambodian fighters if properly groomed will hold their own when it comes to international cage fights, which are growing immensely popular all over the world.
According to Minetti, the CMMAA have signed a partnership deal with Singapore-based promotion ONE FC, opening up exciting avenues for local fighters to hone their MMA skills.
“Cambodian youngsters who have grown up with traditional fighting styles like bokator and khun Khmer boxing are now learning MMA skills quite well,” Minetti told the Post in an exclusive chat yesterday.
After taking up taekwondo first, Minetti switched to boxing, then moved over to kickboxing before dedicating his training to MMA.
“Anyone with skills to fight in any form or style can make it to the MMA, which has its own structure and regulations,” he said.
“The CMMAA is planning this year to hold several seminars by inviting world class fighters, professional judges and referees to train local hopefuls.”
The technical director also asserted that safety was their top priority. “The CMMAA mission is to stick firmly to the MMA rules to avoid any major accidents and ensure the highest quality of fights,” he added.
Two weeks ago, Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Rodrigo Teixeira was in Phnom Penh sharing his experiences and passing on some very useful tips to the local fighters during a seminar at the K1 Fitness & Fight Factory, which Minetti owns.
The MMA master plan for the future makes room for steady growth at the amateur level, strengthening the fighters mentally and physically to move them up to cage fights against foreigners. These build-up events will be held every month.
The next big step for these emerging fighters will be the Ultimate Khmer Championship, a professional event slated for later this year involving local fighters who had done well at amateur level competing against more accomplished locals and foreigners.
For UKC winners, the next competitive challenge could be fighting at the ONE FC event proposed for Phnom Penh next year or even a place on the card at a ONE FC fight night held regularly in one of the region’s major cities.
Minetti, who says he has taken on some of the best Thai fighters in his heyday and carries the nickname of Serial Striker, currently runs the K1 Fitness & Fight Factory (No 131, Street 199). He also owns similar well-equipped gyms in Vietnam and France.
The CMMAA are reported to have started recruiting local fighters to build a strong Cambodian team. “Right now we have 10 fighters, but the demand is growing. Every day we have someone new coming in,” said Minetti.
“We all know that Chann Rathanna is ready to fight in MMA. Once he enters the cage, I am sure a dozens of others will be inspired by him.”