MMA in Asia continued to grow at an amazing rate in 2014. An historic number of Asian fighters made their debut in the UFC; ONE FC expanded its footprint into the UAE and China; ROAD FC increased its events to one per month; and Pancrase, DEEP, and Shooto began to work together.
Promotions all over Asia began to crop up with sustainable platforms, like Full Metal Dojo in Thailand, and amateur circuits were given a huge push, like MIMMA in Malaysia. In fact, almost every country saw more than one new promotion make a push into the MMA market.
The back bone of MMA is, of course, the fighters. And without taking any more light away from them, here are the answers from fifty fighters who participated in our special New Years poll. The questions we asked were simple and straightforward. What was the most important moment of 2014? What is your goal for 2015?
1) Bashir Ahmad, ONE FC
I only fought once. So that was certainly important in my career. What else would you say?! I want to fight 2-3 times this year, get on a Dubai card. Fight and defeat an Indian fighter and get my purple belt.
2) Baba Yuki, Pancrase
I had a big injury in 2014. It was disappointing that I couldn’t have more fights because of it. As for me, the Pancrase belt is what I’m aiming for again.
3) Honorio Banario, ONE FC
The most important thing to happen on my career in 2014 is I learned many things in fighting. It brought out the best in me, but its not enough. And in 2015 I want to win every single fight.
4) Choi Mu-Gyeom, ROAD FC Champion
Last year I became the champion. This year, the goal is to defend the championship.
5) Allen Solomon Chong, UFC TUF China
Best thing to happen to me was knowing I can make bantamweight easier than anticipated. That and of course my baby daughter giving me more drive to train now. I want to win fights and get back on track fighting under the big lights!
6) Will Chope, Pancrase
The most important thing that happened to me in 2014 was moving full time to Juggernaut Fight Club after getting kicked out of the UFC. No one wanted me but they took me in and have made such a better fighter since being here. I truly have found my family at this gym. My goals for 2015 are to win the Rebel FC & Pancrase Featherweight titles!!! No way anyone will stop me.
7) Brittany Ann Decker, DEEP Jewels
2014 best moment: In February when I stepped into the ring for the first time. Deep Jewels grappling. Won by my signature choke. 2015 goal: Kill everyone in the 105lb division.
8) Roy Docyogen, ONE FC
As a fighter, I think I’ve accomplished enough in my MMA career. It was a good experience that really changed my life to a good direction. This 2015, I wish for more blessings as a professional architect.
9) Vaughn Donayre, ONE FC
The most important thing that happened to my career in 2014 are the 3 consecutive losses. It taught me a valuable lesson, and it opened doors for better changes, team and training wise. In 2015 I want to launch my featherweight campaign and be a contender in the weight class.
10) Mark Eddiva, UFC
The most important thing to happen in my career last 2014 is being able to step in the UFC arena. What I want to accomplish is to climb up the ranks in the UFC featherweight division by wining all my fights this year.
11) Eduard Folayang, ONE FC
The most important thing that happened to me in 2014 is when I learned my lessons from those people around the martial arts community, from my mistakes (gaining additional experiences), and waking up in 2015 knowing that 2014 had already come to pass. [In 2015] I want to climb the highest mountain of my career.
12) Emi Fujino, WSOF
The most memorable thing was to be able to have a title match with Jessica Aguilar in WSOF. Though I lost, it was able to absorb a lot of things. I want to fight outside of Japan, I want to put the results of my training to test against a strong opponent and fight.
13) Riki Fukuda, ROAD FC
My best moments were spending time with my family. My goal is to win every fight and get a Championship belt!
14) Dave Galera, UFC
The most important thing that happened to me this year was losing. Now I know the feeling so I have to correct my old mistakes and learn from them. My goal this year is to open up a BJJ gym and be successful. I’m putting my fighting career on hold for now to concentrate on the business.
15) Ham Seo-Hee, UFC
Last year I signed a contract with UFC. Next year I want to have a good match.
16) Ken Hasegawa, DEEP Champion, Titan FC
2014, I fought only two times, and the best moments were those wins. Kazuhiro Nakamura, a big name, I was able to overcome, and I got the victory in my United States debut in Titan FC. I do not have a moment any higher when compared to those. 2015 I will drop to middleweight. Because last year I had only two games, I want to fight four games or more. I am happy if I can fight on a large stage and one by one get the victory.
17) Tyrone Henderson, ROAD FC
My most important moment last year was my daughter showing light that she loves what I do and wants to learn. My goal this year is to beat everyone and become the champion that I know I am.
18) Zebaztien Kadestam, PXC Champion
My only fight last year was the most important. This year I want to defend the PXC title and I want to fight at least 5 times.
19) Masanori Kanehara, UFC
I won in the UFC! I want to stay injury-free.
20) Yusuke Kawanago, ONE FC
My 2014 best moment is I could contract with ONE FC! But I couldn’t fight to win against Rob Lisita, my 2015 worst moment. My 2015 goal is to get back to ONE FC and challenge to become the champion.
21) Kil Young-Bok, ROAD FC
Last year, to get the ROAD FC tournament win by KO over Kousuke Umeda. Next year, to become the ROAD FC Featherweight Champion.
22) Kim Dong-Hyun, UFC
On March 1 last year beating John Hathaway was my most memorable moment, it was the happiest moment of all. This year, I will try hard every minute of it to prepare, I will return to competition. The last fight in the UFC I was quickly defeated. I want to make a comeback and again be on the front lines for the title. Time is moving and nobody lives forever. Until then, the more I want to fight. This year, I want to fight over three games if possible.
23) Kim Su-Cheol, ROAD FC / ONE FC
Last year, I had fun. Next year, I want to keep winning!
24) Kitada Toshiaki, DEEP
2014: My victory on New Years Eve. 2015: I want to become the Bantamweight Champion.
25) Satoru Kitaoka, DEEP Champion
For three consecutive victories, I’m glad! I’m in the Pancrase World Slam finals and I want to win! For my DEEP title, 3 times in the defense and keep winning! I also want to win the King of Pancrase title! I want to have four games this year! And stay undefeated!
26) Vitali Krat, RINGS
I lived with my family in Japan and coached kickboxing there. It was great! At the end of last year I injured my neck. Now I am treated and healed. This year I hope to return to the ring.
27) Kwon A-Sol, ROAD FC Champion
2014: Becoming the ROAD FC Lightweight Champion and beating Kume. 2015: Become Asia’s number one ranked lightweight fighter. I would like to fight Aoki to prove it.
28) Ole Larsen, ROAD FC
This year I focused on my gym and my fighters, it helped me regain my thirst and need to fight in 2015. I want to fight and smash and gain a UFC contract.
29) Vaughan Lee, UFC
I believe my most important moment last year was my KO loss against Iuri Alcantara. It was the first time I had been KO’d and i learned a great deal from it. I have a few goals set for this year but my main goal is to enter the Top Ten in the flyweight division by the end of the year.
30) Lee Yoon-Jun, ROAD FC Champion
The best was when I won the Championship belt. In 2015 I want to get stronger day by day!
31) Andrew Leone, ONE FC
Most important part of my 2014 year was taking over partial ownership of Jakarta Muay Thai and also my team opening up Bali Muay Thai & MMA Training Camp in Bali, Indonesia. We want to grow both gyms and produce high level athletes who bring back championships. Bali MMA is on its way to being the number one destination gym in the world. I think 2015 will be a big year for us.
32) Rob Lisita, ONE FC
2014 I started with my ONE FC contract, there were ups and downs, but getting the record fastest KO in ONE FC at the time, being the main event for 2 shows, and having fight of the year… it was actually a pretty great year. In 2015, my biggest goal is to go undefeated. I’m not going to make big proclamations. Every fighter in the ONE FC featherweight division is tough, I just know if I win fights I’ll make it to the top and get that chance at the title. I can guarantee one thing: that my fights never have and never will be boring, I will always be the same ruthless guy in the cage, no matter what.
33) Darren Low, MIMMA Champion
The most important moment of 2014 was when I decided to leave my comfort zone to train at a proper camp; cleaning up my poor diet and lifestyle habits in the process. My goal for 2015 is to keep my training momentum going and to defend my MIMMA belt. I plan to also focus on refining my grappling and striking fundamentals.
34) AJ Lias Mansour, ONE FC
2014: Coaching Ann “Athena” to get her 2 wins back to back in ONEFC, notably she defeated Anna Julaton at ONE FC Dubai. Coaching Mark “Mugen” Steigl to win his MMA fight at MIMMA after a one year hiatus. Coaching Hisyam “Zephyrus”, my top Malaysian prospect fighter, to win his debut at Full Metal Dojo 3 Bangkok. Received my blue belt in BJJ from Professor Adam Kayoom. I won 2 Gold medals at the Pan Asians and Bronze at ADCC. 2015: To complete more in BJJ and wrestling tournaments and win medals. To come back and fight MMA!
35) Bruno Robusto Miranda, ROAD FC
The most important thing that happened last year, I was coming to Tiger Muay Thai, I’m here I’m learning a lot every day. In 2015 I want to have one or two more victories in MMA and be able to sign with UFC.
36) Nam Yui-Chul, UFC
Last year, as well as every moment, even every hour was important at one point. Our lives are a series of important moments! Talking with you for the moment, it is very important! This year, I’d like to have three fights in the UFC. I’d like to train with a variety of teams, and experience training abroad!
37) Ann Osman, ONE FC
Most important in my career- Winning two fights back to back and improving to 2-1-0. [Next year] More wins for sure!
38) Majee Overall, ONE FC
In regards to my fighting career, undoubtably the most important moment of 2014 was my successful return to One FC. I think it proved not only that I have improved since my promotional debut in 2012 but that I’m now a real contender capable of competing against top talent. I’m currently riding a 4 fight winning streak and have beaten 3 champions from 3 different MMA promotions, all in less than one minute, and a 2 time world jiu jitsu champion in less than one round. This year I want a belt to call my own. I’m aiming for the ONE FC title.
39) Adrian Pang, ONE FC
Most important thing to happen in my career in 2014 was making a successful comeback and debut for ONE FC after such a long lay off. In 2015 I will be able to compete more as I am now contracted to do so.
40) Harris Sarmiento, ONE FC
Last year was good, I got my foot in the door with ONE FC. I just wanted to really focus on work. There was a lot a drama with my team and management. That’s why I didn’t really fight that much. This year I want to get back on the fight scene with my new team and management. I feel really good n improved everywhere. This year’s goal is to at least make it into the ONE FC rankings.
41) Ulka Sasaki, UFC
My best moment of 2014 was winning in the UFC. My goal in 2015 is to keep winning!
42) Shunichi Shimizu, Pancrase
I fought in the UFC. I am happy. I was introduced to a lot of foreign people and made new friends. MMA is love. I want to fight a lot. I want to win a lot.
43) Louis Smolka, UFC
Getting signed to the UFC [this year] and to go undefeated [next year].
444) Son Hye-Seok, ROAD FC
My most important memory is when I fought Ikuhisa Minowa in 2013. In 2015, I want to become the ROAD FC Middleweight Champion. And if there is a chance, I would like to try fighting the strongest men in the world!
45) Mark Striegl, ONE FC
The most important things were fighting for MIMMA after a one-year hiatus and making the Evolve MMA fight team. I want to be much more active this year and land a pizza hut sponsorship.
46) Sung Ming-Yen, ONE FC
In 2014 I won 2 times in ONE FC. Especially the first one in my home country. In 2015, I want to win all my fights. I want to get a purple belt in BJJ. I want to use Bagua Zhang skills (Chinese kung fu) in my MMA fights.
47) DJ.taiki, DEEP
Starting new job at a sports scented and teaching swimming. Fight in UFC [next year].
48) Michinori Tanaka, UFC
2014: I experienced my first loss. In 2015 I want to enjoy my MMA life!
49) Motonobu Tezuka, Grachan and HEAT Champ
That I could become a champion in both Grachan and Heat! To start off with the belt, I was happy. Now my goal is to defend the two belts! Also I want to challenge anyone in the world so I can become stronger!
50) Agilan Thangalapani, MIMMA Champion
I would say the belt of MIMMA because it was like the first ever qualification to me that I should have. In 2015 I would try to be the first ever amateur world champion in a international organization such as IMMAF and looking to turn pro by the end of the year, hopefully.
51) Darren Uyenoyama, PXC
Most important moment last year was the day I arrived in Guam for my last fight. I just had a feeling that I was exactly where I was meant to be at that time. My goal for this year is to compete more in BJJ/Grappling, and fight 2-3 times.
52) Kiichi Kunimoto, UFC
2014: best moment is when I won my June fight. My goal for 2015 is to get into the rankings by going undefeated.
53) Kevin Belingon, ONE FC
The most important thing that happened to my career in 2014 was that I won my fight before the year ended and I was given the chance prove my self as a top bantamweight contender. What I want to accomplish in 2015 is that I want to be successful in my MMA career and be a ONE FC Bantamweight Champion.
54) Shinsho Anzai, UFC
My highlight is becoming King Of Pancrase and fighting in the UFC. I will cure my injury and keep on winning.
55) V.V Mei Yamaguchi, DEEP, PXC
DEEP Dream Impact 2014 was great moment to show Japanese women MMA’s existence. Woman’s card was great, but I believe we can be more aggressive this year. As a pioneer of WMMA, Japanese fighters should take hands and get ready to fight overseas, and of course in Japan too.