Sat, Sep 03, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Taiwan’s Andy Wang prepares for MMA battle

By Adrian Hardie  /  Staff Reporter

Andy Wang, left, ONE Fighting Championship head Victor Cui, center, and Zorobabel Moreira pose during the weigh-in for their lightweight fight in Singapore yesterday.

Photo: Courtesy of Shafudin Jaya

Taiwanese mixed martial artist Andy Wang (7-7-1, 1 NC) takes on former Brazilian national jiujitsu champion Zorobabel “Zoro” Moreira (4-1-0) tonight in the inaugural event of Singapore’s ONE Fighting Championship, which aims to be the largest mixed martial arts organization in Asia.

A blackbelt in Brazilian jiujitsu, Wang, 34, made his name on the US reality TV show The Ultimate Fighter, which puts mixed martial artists together in a house, divides them into teams under the tutelage of famed UFC champions and has them fight it out for a coveted UFC contract.

Wang’s love of brawling led him to forgo his superior ground game and go toe-to-toe with his first opponent on the show, despite giving up more than 20cm in reach and the objections of his coach, B.J. Penn, who consequently kicked him off his team.

Wang said being on the show was a great opportunity for training and fighting on a big stage, but he does not miss having to give up his privacy for six weeks.

“It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but after the show is over, you definitely appreciate doing things on your own time and not having a microphone in your face,” he said.

Wang faces perhaps his toughest opponent yet in Moreira, 28.

Moreira is heavily favored to win. He not only possesses top-notch ground skills, but at 1.91m tall compared with Wang’s 1.68m, he possesses a considerable size advantage.

This will be Moreira’s first fight as a lightweight (155 pounds, 70.3kg), as he previously fought his bouts as a middleweight (185 pounds).

Moreira had his one loss in June last year at the hands of US prospect Joe Ray, who knocked him out. Since then, he has been working at improving his stand-up skills, which were on full display in his upset victory over former judo Olympian Ferrid Kheder in June.

Moreira won the decision after taking on the fight with only seven days’ notice.

However, Wang is undeterred.

“Every match has its unique challenges and obstacles. My job is to find the best way to navigate those problems,” he said.

“He [Moreira] is a very good in grappling and just beat a friend of mine who is pretty tough himself, so I know Zoro has legitimate skills, but competing is the name of the game and let’s see who is better on Saturday,” Wang added.

Tonight’s fight takes place at the sold-out 12,000-seat Singapore Indoor Stadium, starting at 7pm.

ONE FC’s rules combine the Unified Rules of MMA with the rules of the defunct Pride Fighting Championships, allowing for “soccer kicks,” stomps and elbows to the head of a grounded opponent.

A live stream of the event will be shown on www.sherdog.com and there will be a delayed broadcast on ESPN Star Sports.

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