Jadambaa Narantungalag holds a special place in MMA history as the most well-known and strongest Mongolian MMA fighter. His passage from his own country’s leagues to Japan’s Sengoku, and finally One Championship internationally has been impressive.
This Saturday, June 23, Jadambaa (12-5, Team Tungaa) will meet Edward Kelly (10-4, Team Lakay) at One Championship: Pinnacle of Power in Macau, China. Following an unsuccessful title challenge against his old foe, Marat Gafurov, he will seek to get back on the horse with a dominant performance.
There are many intriguing attributes of this tough as-nails-fighter. He’s fought all over the world, he’s claimed three MMA titles, and he’s a highly ranked kyokushin fighter and judoka. Jadambaa was well-known in kickboxing prior to his foray into MMA.
“I think MMA is the origin of martial arts. There are so many things to learn. I would have liked to fight in vale tudo if it had a weight classification system.”
Jadambaa’s aggressive style has earned him a solid and long-lasting fan base. He smiles as he throws massive kicks, and genuinely performs with violent intentions. As he edges into his 40s, it would be acceptable to see him transition into a more conservative “point fighting” style. But Jadambaa has no plans for that.
“I think my style makes me get closer to the win. I have never changed my style before, though I have added new techniques. Also I just want to exchange blows! Of course, my training is different now from before. I have improved my physical strength and grappling skills for a long time – for not only this fight but also for fights in the future. I can’t say how long I will continue… I want to fight until I run out of steam.”
Jadambaa’s focus is on his next opponent whom he will face in less than 24 hours as of this writing. Edward Kelly is a solid candidate in One Championship’s featherweight division. The largest difference between the two would be Jadambaa’s breadth of fights and his level of opponents.
“If I’m forced to say his weakness, he has less experience. But as he is a strong fighter, it won’t affect his mental focus.”
Does winning this fight put Jadambaa back into title contention?
“I believe so, but no one can predict it.”
Jadambaa is very familiar with title hunting, and in every organization he’s always been in the contender’s pocket if he isn’t the champion.
“My favorite fight was against Adrian Pang on October 30, 2011. I got Legend FC’s title and it was the first time I got a title in foreign country. Also, it was a really tough fight.”
It was also in the same city in which Jadambaa faces Kelly on June 23rd.
“Of course, Macau is memorable place for me. I got a title at that time and I am very happy to fight again here. My favorite place to fight was Japan. Because there are lots of martial arts fans and they understand martial arts well.”
At home, Jadambaa’s efforts have gotten him great acclaim in Mongolia from the highest government officials.
“I was awarded the Order of Merit Athlete at the Mongolian Government Palace and the President of Mongolia awarded the Order to me upon the decree of the President of Mongolia. I think focusing on sports is important to the development of Mongolia because it enhances national prestige and expands national influence.”
As well as being a seasoned and current MMA fighter, Jadambaa is a coach and works to develop the scene in Mongolia for fighters every chance he can.
“MMA in Mongolia is developing, but slowly. There is the Mongolian Best Fighters’ Federation and it organizes MMA shows in Mongolia to develop MMA and improve our fighters. I am one of the board members. The number of MMA fighters in Mongolia is few and the number of MMA supporters is also few. Mongolian fighters don’t have any chance to train with a salary. They need supporters.”
“I’d like to introduce some fighters. Enkh-Orgil Baatarkhuu, Purev Otgonjargal, Ganbayar Thaumaturge, and a female fighter, Saranmunkh Udval. If any promoter is interested in Mongolian fighters, please contact me!”
Of course, there is a human side to the beast in the cage, and his whole world is not just MMA. Although when one sees his holiday photos in the snow-covered wind-swept mountains astride a horse in full Mongolian gear, it’s a little difficult to imagine him as anything less than a warrior.
“I live in the capital city of Mongolia and work in security for a private company. So I like to go away to the countryside with my family on holidays. I want to feel the air of nature, ride a horse, and climb mountains there. Actually, I own more than 10 horses, I race them, and some are even champions.”
His years in the sport have given him so much, including valuable insight. It’s an important of Jadambaa’s legacy.
“When I was young, I sometimes felt like quitting martial arts while training. But now I don’t feel that at all because I love martial arts. I think it’s most important to note that. I’d like to advise all young fighters that it’s important to continue to train well without giving up for long time.”
Jadambaa Narantungalag versus Edward Kelly takes place at One Championship: Pinnacle of Power in Macau, China on June 23, Saturday. The event can be watched on Facebook, Twitter, and the promotion’s app starting at 18:30 Macau time. For more information on the card, visit the event page.