Paul Cheng is not a household name in MMA, but the behemoth Taiwanese is set to change that in his debut with ONE FC on December 6, 2013.
A rare heavyweight and an even rarer Asian one at that, the Canada-based Taiwanese fighter was picked up by ONE FC earlier in the year. Cheng is 3-1 in his professional career, with his wins by a mixed bag: one decision, one KO, and one submission. That means his game is still an unknown factor when it comes time for his opponents to plan against him.
Cheng will be facing Cameroonian kickboxer Alain Ngalani when he steps into the cage on Friday night. As the first fight on the main card, his friends and fans back home will also be able to catch him fighting live on he Fight Network. MMA-in-ASIA spoke with Cheng before his fight about what it is like to be back in Asia, how his condition is for the fight, and a little bit more about what makes him tick. And punch. And grapple.
MMA-in-ASIA: First off, hello and congrats for signing to fight in ONE FC.
Paul: Thanks so much, I’m excited for my first fight in Asia!
MMA-in-ASIA: How long has it been since you’ve been to this side of the world?
Paul: I went back home about four years ago to Taiwan to visit my grandma. RIP Grandma I miss you. I know she’ll be watching over me tomorrow!
MMA-in-ASIA: That’s very sweet. So, what the heck did your parents feed you to make you so large?
Paul: I have some conspiracy theories but that’s too long of a story… Lots of food and super hormone chickens from California when I was young. [laughs]
MMA-in-ASIA: That’s about right!
Paul: It’s kind of a true story.
MMA-in-ASIA: Your opponent is also a big man. Do you big guys ever look at other big guys and think “Man, that’s a big guy”?
Paul: I played pro football. You gotta see the size of the guys I played with. Size is not a big deal to me.
MMA-in-ASIA: I have seen pictures of you grappling. What belt are you in BJJ?
Paul: I’m blue belt with 2 stripes.
MMA-in-ASIA: A lot of people think heavyweights might lack cardio, but you went a full 3 rounds in your first fight. How is your cardio now?
Paul: I’ve been the distance! I believe in my cardio. I’m ready to go 3 rounds if needed! But to be honest, I don’t think this one will go the distance.
MMA-in-ASIA: How do you see yourself winning the fight?
Paul: I’m ready for the fight to go anywhere but I see a finish.
MMA-in-ASIA: What’s this whole “stuntman” thing you do about? Are you in any movies I’d know?
Paul: I work as a stunt man, sometimes actor, not the best by any means. The biggest film I’ve been in is probably “Night at the Museum” 1 and 2, and rumors are that 3 is in the works, so I might be dusting off my Hun costume soon.
MMA-in-ASIA: How did you get the name “Typhoon”?
Paul: “Typhoon” is not being used for this fight out of respect for the victims of tragic Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines.
MMA-in-ASIA: That’s very considerate of you. How has the reception been in the Philippines? What is your impression so far?
Paul: The Philippines has been fantastic, the people are awesome! Cell phone service kinda sucks – I’ll never use super IDD ever again, and cab fares always change. [laughs]
MMA-in-ASIA: You’re getting the royal treatment it seems.
Paul: Yep so far, so good. I’ve just gotta go do my job Friday night or Friday morning in North America.
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you have any jet lag? I think it’s harder going back to North America than coming here.
Paul: I have had a few long days but it’s my job, and tired or not it’s gotta be done. I will be ready tomorrow night!
MMA-in-ASIA: ONE FC says they will announce three shows in possibly some new locations. How would it feel to be on a card in Taiwan?
Paul: It makes my insides tingle when I hear “ONE FC in Taiwan”! I was with Victor Cui the boss last night on an interview on a Philippines sports network. It could be a possibility, but first I’ve got a job to do on Friday night.
MMA-in-ASIA: Have you ever watched ONE FC in the Philippines before? Have you heard how loud the fans get?
Paul: I heard the show is almost sold out – 20,000 people – and 7 local fighters are on the card. I’m sure that’s going to make it a memorable night. The card is stacked and I will find out my moment of truth tomorrow! Quick shout out to my Coach Sal Ram, my sponsors, my teammates at Clinch MMA and my girlfriend at home.