Mia goes MMA: Hong Kong model Kang signs with leading mixed martial arts agent as she aims to join fighting ranks after debut win

After a win in her martial arts debut, the model-turned-fighter looks to continue her success by signing on with First Round management

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 May, 2017, 10:02am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 8:52am

Hong Kong model Mia Kang has had a taste of life as a professional muay thai fighter. Now Kang has her sights set on the most popular combat sport there is – mixed martial arts.

“I’ve fallen in love with martial arts,” Kang said.

Kang announced on Tuesday she had signed on with the massive First Round MMA management group that previously helped guide the career of Miesha Tate, the one-time UFC world bantamweight champion who, along with the likes of Ronda Rousey, has been credited with helping MMA cross over into the mainstream globally.

“I’ll probably start training next week,” said Kang. “There are a couple of [muay thai] fights that I want to do in the next couple of months. While I’m doing that I am going to lay the groundwork with wrestling and jiu jitsu and see what’s up with that. Then, after these ‘thai’ fights play out, we can see where MMA takes us.”

The 28-year-old Kang has become one of the most sought-after models on the planet after featuring in this year’s Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit edition, and starring for the likes of the Guess clothing group in their global campaigns.

I want to do it again, says a battered and bruised Mia Kang after the swimsuit model wins her first muay thai fight

Kang turned to serious muay thai training last year after battling body and confidence issues and said the martial art had turned her life around.

Last month, she made her professional debut in the sport, scoring a third-round TKO over Thai fighter Nong B in a bout on the holiday island of Koh Samui. That might well be a taste of things to come.

First Round – who have the likes of MMA legend B.J. Penn on their books – had apparently been keeping tabs on the Kang story via social media as it evolved.

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“They’d been sitting back and watching me,” she said. “They did their due diligence to see if I was just some model who was doing this as a phase. [They] were impressed by my commitment and see something inside me that they see in other fighters. They wanted to see how I was when I got hit in the face and I came out of this fight and they said we’re good to go if you want to. It’s something I want to explore but it’s baby steps.”

Kang was earlier featured on this week’s edition of The MMA Hour podcast hosted by seven-time MMA journalist of the year Ariel Helwani, tucked in between cuts of an interview with the sport’s undisputed king Conor McGregor.

“This is fun for me,” she told Helwani. “I wish I’d done it earlier and I want to see what else is out there. I don’t just train for fun and knowing me I’ll get there [to an MMA fight] down the road.”

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Kang’s billing on the popular show is an indication again of what a huge role women fighters play in MMA, and comes in the week that arguably the most popular fighter in Asia – One Championship’s Angela Lee – is preparing to put her world atomweight title on the line.

Lee’s much-anticipated bout against Brazilian Istela Nunes on Friday in Singapore comes just three weeks before the UFC’s showcase event in the same city, which is being headlined by America’s former world bantamweight world champion Holly Holm who will face Brazilian Bethe Correia.

“I think it’s great that the women are so popular. In terms of Rousey she was at one point the most popular fighter in the UFC,” Kang told the Post. “I think it’s great that women are getting this recognition.”

Kang’s move into the world of professional fighting has attracted enormous global attention and she said she was now fully prepared to write the next chapter.

“I’m not saying that Thai boxing is more brutal but I’m not easily scared,” said Kang.