LETTERS: Mixed martial arts (MMA) have been gaining popularity in Malaysia since the 1990s. Today, there are multiple MMA gyms and clubs across the country, providing training and facilities for those interested in the sport. In addition, there are also a few MMA organisations that host regular events and competitions.
Former youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin, through a collaboration with retired mixed martial artist Rich Franklin, brought one of the most famous MMA organisations, One Fighting Championship, to Malaysia in 2014, giving MMA fans in the country the opportunity to watch events for the sport live.
One of the most popular MMA organisations here is the Malaysian Mixed Martial Arts Association (MMAA), founded in 2012. The MMAA is the first and only national governing body for MMA in Malaysia and it is recognised by the Malaysian Olympic Council.
The MMAA hosts the annual Malaysian National MMA Championship, which is the country's biggest MMA event. The championship is open to all Malaysian citizens and features both amateur and professional divisions.
So far, the MMAA has been successful in developing MMA in Malaysia. Some of the notable Malaysian MMA fighters include Peter Davis, Ann Osman, Ev Ting and Agilan "Alligator" Thani.
Khabib "The Eagle" Nurmagomedov, former lightweight UFC champion, also played a role in increasing the number of fans for the sport in Malaysians. With his humble personality, Khabib has become a role model for youngsters, helping raise the interest in MMA.
Last month, his successor, Islam Makhachev, continued Khabib's legacy by capturing the vacant title of the lightweight champion when he faced Charles Oliveira in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
On social media platforms, some Malaysians made videos of their reactions to the Islam-Oliveria fight. This shows that there is a budding MMA fan community in Malaysia that followed Islam's and Khabib's journey in becoming world champions.
With the continued growth of MMA in Malaysia, we will likely see even more Malaysian MMA fighters making a name for themselves in the future. I also hope that one day an MMA champion from Malaysia will put our country on the map.
MUHAMMAD SYAWAL MOHD YAZID
Faculty Of Business and Communication
Universiti Malaysia Perlis
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times