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'Typhoon' returns to hit Taipei

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Paul “Typhoon” Cheng is poised to make his homecoming to Taiwan with the ONE FC: War of Dragons card on July 11, while marking the arrival of the largest combat sports spectacle in Taipei to date.

Organized by One Fighting Championship, a Singapore-based promotion firm, the event is part of Asia's largest MMA promotion showcasing the region's top talent and prospects, hosting sold-out shows throughout Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Japan. ONE FC employs modified PRIDE MMA rules, differing from the Nevada Rules employed in the U.S. in that kicks, elbows, and knee strikes to a downed opponent's body and legs are allowed.

With a stature measuring 6'3” and 255.7 pounds, Cheng is Taiwan's first professional heavyweight contender to reach the big-league Pan-Asia championships. “I am excited and honored to have the biggest bout of my career in my home town,” Cheng told The China Post.

Cheng, 35, is a former defensive tackle in the Canadian Football League, and began his MMA career about four years ago, the latest chapter in a journey of unlikely paths. Born in Taiwan and raised in Canada since the age of 9, Cheng stated that his choice of careers in professional sports and later combat sports had always caused some friction with the traditional values of his parents. “My family couldn't have been happier during my stint in the financial industry,” he said.

Cheng, who also works as an actor and a stunt man, explained that he began his fighting career at the urging of colleagues and close friends including Sal Ram, a professional fighter based in British Columbia. “I was asked if I knew any martial arts, because I was Asian,” recalled Cheng of the time he spent on the set of “The Night in the Museum” series. “I quickly realized that MMA was the best fit for me,” said Chang, whose fighting career includes boxing and kickboxing.

Over a period of four years, Cheng faced bankruptcy as he gave up a steady high-paying job to plunge headfirst into a focused pursuit in an MMA career. Cheng stated that his lifelong experience in competitive sports including football, boxing and wrestling enabled him to make the transition to MMA. Cheng's MMA record of 4-1-0 produced three first-round stoppages with him swarming the downed opponents with heavy strikes on the ground.

Most notably, amid growing economic uncertainty and suppressed wages, Cheng stated that he hoped to become a role model and inspire Taiwan's youth to pursue their aptitudes, however unlikely. Cheng stated that he feels blessed in having bested the odds to become the highest drafted Taiwanese professional football player in Canada, and now aims to take his first pan-Asia heavyweight MMA championship title.

Cheng is now scheduled to face Egyptian boxing champion Mahmoud “Hell Boy” Hassan, considered to be his toughest opponent to date.

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This photo shows a sold-out stadium during a fight organized by ONE FC, Asia's largest combat sports promotion company headquartered in Singapore.

(Courtesy of ONE FC)

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