On June 17th, UFC will return to the Asian continent with UFC Fight Night 111. The card will be headlined by former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, Holly Holm, and former number one contender, Bethe Correia.
The card also boasts of some serious star power, with the likes of Rafael dos Anjos, Dong Hyun Kim and Andrei Arlovski, among a host of other Asian fighters donning the gloves in front of the Singapore crowd. The event will also feature the promotional debut of the veteran Wang Guan, who will face top prospect Alex Caceres in a mouth-watering featherweight bout.
“The Dongbei Tiger” (15-1-1 MMA) has been waiting patiently for UFC’s call for years, and finally signed a multi-fight deal back in February. Wang Guan made his professional MMA debut back in 2006 and was the featherweight champion in the now defunct Ranik Ultimate Fighting Federation (RUFF). The 30-year-old has been one of China’s top fighters and dreams of winning gold in the UFC.
We recently caught up with Wang Guan for an interview, where he talked about fighting Caceres, his thoughts on the Chinese market and much more.
You will be making your UFC debut against Caceres. Can you tell us what does it means to you to fight in the UFC?
Wang Guan: We appreciate that the UFC is giving us the toughest opponent - like all the other Chinese fighters (I had faced) before. That would also mean that UFC respects my ability. For me, it means a lot to fight in the biggest organisation in the world.
You’re coming off consecutive victories, and have amassed an impressive record outside the UFC. With just over a month to go for the event, can you tell us how your training camp is coming along?
Wang Guan: We’re training in Chengdu Albir Fight Club, where we have lots of Russian and foreign coaches, and the sparring partners as well (are foreign). So we are doing specific training for this fight. We are working on our weaker sides (weaknesses), and are also working on the weaker side (weaknesses) of our opponent, and we keep going.
Caceres is a versatile and dynamic striker, with some excellent submission grappling to boot. What do you make of your opponent and the stylistic matchup between you two?
Wang Guan: If we talk about striking, we feel more confident (in that department). Our striking is better than Caceres’.
Regarding the ground game - the submission (game) and wrestling, here in Chengdu, we work a lot with the Russian wrestlers, and also fighters that excel in the ground game. So we’re also working in this aspect, as we get ready for the fight.
Your fellow countryman Li Jing Liang will be fighting on the same card. Can you give us your thoughts on UFC’s focus on the Chinese market, and their statement of intent by handpicking the best of the local talent in the past couple of years?
Wang Guan: UFC is also coming to Shanghai with an event, and the Chinese market is huge. It would also mean that they (UFC) are focusing on it, and I’m happy that it’s happening. I’m really excited about it.
Regarding the Chinese fighters, they’re training hard. The sport is growing, and in a couple of years, we should see some young, new talent coming up. There are a lot of fighters from Sanda background that make the transition to MMA, and that is also peaking, as there are a lot of fighters (training in Sanda).
You’re a veteran in the fight game. Going into UFC Fight Night: Singapore, what’s going through your mind, considering a victory over Caceres will automatically put the top fighters in the division on notice?
Wang Guan: My thought process is this - if I win this fight, I will show the others what level I’m on, and that I’m a veteran of the sport. I’m going to make a name for myself with the win, and I’m going to keep progressing.
What can the fans expect from your fight come June 17th?
Wang Guan: The fans can expect a win, and me finishing my opponent via TKO or a knockout. I’m going to go in trying to finish my opponent.Published 23 May 2017, 20:31 IST