Thu, Nov 06, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Taiwan’s Jeff Huang to fight in Singapore tomorrow

By Adrian Hardie  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan’s Jeff “Machine” Huang, top, administers his ground-and-pound against India’s Bala Shetty at ONE FC 18 in Taipei on July 11.

Photo courtesy of ONE FC

Taiwanese fighter Jeff “Machine” Huang steps into the cage to face Indonesian veteran Zuli Silawanto at ONE FC 22 tomorrow night in Singapore.

Huang made his debut in ONE FC mixed martial arts (MMA) by knocking out seven-time Indian national Muay Thai champion Bala Shetty in the first round in Taipei in July. All three Taiwanese fighters won that night, which Sung Ming-yen followed up with another win in Cambodia in September, and Huang will do everything in his power to continue Taiwanese fighters’ unbeaten run.

Huang has a 4-1-0 record, with all four wins coming via first-round knockout or submission.

Combat sports always demand tremendous sacrifices, with professional fighters risking their health and even their lives. However, while many fighters are fighting their way out of poverty, Huang famously left a very lucrative career in finance for the cage.

“I had a comfortable life — I was holding a high-profile job in an American mutual funds company in Taipei, I was married to a pretty wife and I never had to worry about living expenses. But the more money I earned, the emptier I felt and I wasn’t happy at all. To be honest, I even harbored suicidal thoughts at one point. I was doing full-contact karate, Muay Thai and boxing then, and those were the only things which I looked forward to,” he told the Taipei Times.

At the age of 31, Huang knew he had to do something to change his life, and decided to take a year-long sabbatical to travel to Brazil and train in jiujitsu with the Brazilian Top Team. There, he found a satisfaction that had always eluded him previously. He began entertaining thoughts of leaving the corporate world behind for good and dedicating his life to his passion, martial arts.

“I knew this is the life I wanted. I wanted a simple life of just training and fighting,” he says.

“MMA is my life. Dedicating myself to martial arts is the best thing I could have done for myself. In MMA, you learn and experience more about yourself than you can imagine, in all aspects: physical, emotional and mental. It redefined me completely; it gave me a purpose in life,” he says.

However, that decision meant more than just giving up a stable, successful career and luxurious lifestyle: his wife and parents would not hear of it, thinking he was crazy. His marriage fell apart and he almost lost his family, too.

However, Huang says his family has since come around and now support him.

When he made his ONE FC debut in July, his sister, nephew and some relatives were on hand to watch him fight, while his mother waited anxiously by the phone.

“When I won the fight, my sister called my mum immediately and she was so happy for me that she jumped up and down,” he says.

“I am really happy that my family has accepted the real me,” he says. “They had lots of doubts and uncertainty about my future, but eventually they saw my determination and passion to become a mixed martial artist. They saw how serious I was about this, how I will use every drop of my energy to pursue my dream, and they slowly changed their opinions.”

Huang says he does not have a particular strategy for fighting Silawanto (6-8-0), who is a silat practitioner who also has a strong background in kickboxing and submission wrestling and has fought in the cage for more than 12 years.

“When I fight, I just follow the flow. When there are chances, I will catch them and explode with all my power and skill in those moments,” he says.

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