Thank you for being gentle with me after my first post.
Seeing as it wasn’t quite the total disaster I feared it would be I decided not to waste any time before getting started on a second so here it is:
AT present there are slo-mo promos of One FC fighters set to dramatic music playing on constant rotation on various television channels and even in public places in Singapore.
Anyone with a good physique and half decent technique (which instantly rules me out!) can look good in a montage and to get a really accurate idea of how good a fighter actually is you need to sit down and review all the fight footage you can get your hands on.
The first fighter I want to look at is someone who has featured in more of the pre event publicity than most, my fellow Singapore resident Mitch Chilson. I couldn't find a good quality online video of his first fight for Martial Combat but you can view his second fight in its entirety here:
Martial Combat 12 Superfight Xue Guo Bing Vs Mitch Chilson Part 2 (via ESPNMartialCombat)
The first thing that strikes me is how patient Chilson is, particularly for an inexperienced fighter. This was only his second professional fight but he doesn't rush in and is quite clever in the way he conserves energy in what was scheduled to be a five round fight.
He supposedly comes from a background in Muay Thai but on the evidence of this fight he is actually more comfortable on the ground than he is the feet. This might be partly due to the strengths and weaknesses of his opponent, Xue Guo Bing.
The Chinese can always hold their own in the stand up, possibly because I am told a lot of them are so poor they have to fight Sanda every other week just to make ends meet. Most of them are useless on the ground though and Chilson's gameplan was probably to look for the takedown, something which he was able to do repeatedly.
I was pleasantly surprised by how good his ground game was as I had expected him to be a Muay Thai fighter who maybe knew just enough Jiu Jitsu to get by. He looked absolutely immaculate with his wrestling and groundfighting in this fight and his takedowns and throws were flawlessly executed.
Xue Guo Bing is 0-1 on Sherdog, although I don't think they record fights in China so his real record could be completely different. His ground game looks to be pretty basic but I was still impressed by how easily Chilson was able to control him once he had taken him down.
Bing was probably saved by the bell in the first round as he didn't look like he was ever going to be able to reverse the position or escape from under Chilson. It was the same story in the second round, as soon as Chilson took the fight to the ground he looked in total control and it was just a question of when, not if, he found the finish.
So full marks to Chilson for ground fighting and wrestling on the basis of this performance. He also gets credit for executing a gameplan to perfection, the Chinese fighter looked to have some pretty serious Sanda skills and Chilson resisted the temptation to try and test his Muay Thai by getting into a winner takes all style slug fest which would have played right into his opponents hands.
Here is the one FC advert starring Chilson which I probably see about 34,000 times a week on average:
ONE Fighting Championship 1 - Mitch Chilson (via OneFCMMA)
I actually had a look at one of Chilson's Muay Thai fights in Thailand which was uploaded onto Youtube earlier this year and he fights more like an MMA fighter than a Muay Thai fighter. Muay Thai fighters seem to keep their feet close together and hold their hands really high but Chilson's feet were quite far apart and his guard was low.
His ground game definitely looks legit and he knows how to to take the fight to the floor. Interestingly he seems to instinctively look for the takedown rather than the knock out which to me indicates that he is now first and foremost a ground fighter.
Chilson hasn't fought for almost a year so I don't think that the video tells you anything like the full story. Evolve MMA is unlike any other camp that I know of in that every member of the fight team is a full time employee and rumour has it they are extremely well paid, even by Singapore standards.
Even when these fellows are not fighting they still have to turn up and train in much the same way that I have to wake up and go to work five mornings a week. Evolve MMA are extremely selective as to who they allow in their fight team and the training sessions are not open to the general public (my friend used to do Taekwondo and wanted to go and spar with the fighters but he was told there was a rigorous selection process, in the end i think he just went to the pub instead).
I think Chilson's performances at Martial Combat were extremely impressive for a fighter making his professional debut. He will have been training pretty much constantly since then and I am expecting to see a noticeable improvement in him when he gets inside the cage on September 3rd. Working his ground game every day at Evolve MMA, who seem to be rounding up all the BJJ mundials winners they can get their hands on, will definitely not have done him any harm at all.
The only thing counting against him is his age, 33, which is old for an MMA fighter. I think that age is all relative though, a 30 year old who has had issues with obesity or alcoholism is going to have a a lot more wear and tear on their body than one who has always lived a healthy lifestyle so I don't think someone's age as a number tells the whole story.
Chilson writes the ocassional column for Men's Health Magazine here in Singapore and it is obvious that he is very health conscious and carefully watches what he eats.He also got into fighting late in life so won't have suffered the same sort of wear and tear as a Muay Thai fighter who has already had 734 professional fights by the time they are 12 (slight exaggeration, but you take my point...).
He used to be a personal trainer so probably has the mentality that keeping in shape is a lifestyle choice rather than something he only has to do when he has a fight. This all year round approach to fitness should give him a bit more longevity than someone like Ricky Hatton who put massive strain on his body by eating for England whenever he wasn't in training camp.
Being no spring chicken myself I am probably biased but I don't think Chilson's age is an issue. Randy Couture fought well into his 40s and even boxers, who probably need to be more explosive than MMA fighters, seem to be able to keep going well past the age of 35.
Chilson seems to have much more composure inside the cage than perhaps a younger man would and is an amazing physical specimen (he types while stroking his rapidly expanding belly and looking wistful…). Leaving aside all the One FC propaganda and looking purely at Chilson’s fight footage I think he is the real deal and will surprise a few people when he faces Eric Kelly, who has a perfect 5-0 record right now.
Sometimes a fighters record doesn't paint a truly accurate picture of their ability and I think this is the case with Chilson. He might only be 2-0 but he fights like a man who has had 20+ fights and as he has only been doing MMA for a few years his improvement should be steeper than that of a veteran fighter.
The only question mark is over just how good the two opponents he faced at Martial Combat were but Kelly is the Philippines champion so no-one can accuse One FC of giving Chilson an easy ride.
I really didn't mean to write almost 1500 words and I hope at least some of you are stil lreading at this point...
Anyway, in conclusion: Mitch Chilson definitely looks good on the posters and adverts but, more importantly, I think he has the ability to back it up, and is also going to look good against Eric Kelly on September 3rd.
So there you have it. Part one of my One FC previews. Keep being gentle with me and there might even be a part two!