I’m coming for you, Conor: China’s Wang Guan is aiming for the top as he prepares to make his UFC debut in Singapore
The ‘Dongbei Tiger’ Wang Guan will make his UFC bow at Fight Night Singapore on June 17, but already has eyes on the top of the division
Conor McGregor take note.
Chinese fighter Wang Guan has joined the Ultimate Fighting Championship with one goal – to conquer the world of mixed martial arts currently lorded over by the Irish superstar.
“For sure I want to fight McGregor,” said the 31-year-old “Dongbei Tiger” on Thursday.
“He’s the biggest star in this sport. He’s the champion and he would bring me a lot of attention. My first goal is to go step by step, fight by fight, and make my way to the top. I will train hard and that will be my goal.”
Wang (15-1-1) said he wanted a big money fight – and he wanted it as soon as possible. He’ll get a chance to kick off the campaign on June 17 when Wang makes his debut with the world’s premier MMA organisation on its UFC Fight Night Singapore card.
Wang will face American featherweight Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres (12-10) on a card that also features fellow rising Chinese star Li “The Leech” Jingliang, who’s facing Canadian Jonathan “The French Spider” Meunier (8-1) in a welterweight bout.
“There’s no fight in the world top 10 so we need to go hard to make this happen,” said Wang.
Wang comes to the UFC with a reputation as one of China’s most exciting MMA fighters. His record was forged mostly with the now defunct Shanghai-based Ranik Ultimate Fighting Federation (RUFF) – where he battled his way to becoming featherweight champion – and his 15 victories have included 11 by the way of knockout or TKO.
“Most of my fights have been finished by KO or TKO and that’s what people want to see, it’s why the sport is exciting,” said Wang. “I am always wanting to finish my opponents so that might be one of the reasons the UFC signed me. When I became RUFF champion there was talk about me signing for UFC but at that time I didn’t think I was mature enough to go to that high a level. But this year, with UFC becoming bigger in China, it is time.”
Wang has signed a six-fight deal with the UFC and has landed in a division overloaded with talented fighters, not the least of whom being current champion Jose Aldo (26-2). Then there’s McGregor (21-3), the current lightweight champ who’s not averse to the notion of a jaunt back to his old featherweight stomping ground, should the challenge – and no doubt the money – warrant it.
Wang has joined a growing Chinese stable of UFC fighters as the organisation – and the sport itself – seeks to continue reaching across the mainland. The Beijing-based fighter said he wanted his efforts in the Octagon to inspire a new generation of Chinese fighters, and to win over fans across the country.
“In China I have had a pretty huge career, big events, big TV numbers,” said Wang. “So I am bringing MMA fans but also the public who like to watch my fights. I will bring my fan base to the UFC. MMA in China is just building, it’s growing. It still needs some time as it doesn’t have much history behind it.”
Hence, Wang said, he viewed the recent “martial arts versus modern combat” controversy that has lit up social media in China as a positive thing.
The issue was ignited by MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong’s 10-second plastering of tai chi master Wei Lei – and by the MMA man’s call-out to other more traditional Chinese martial artists to come out and face the same medicine. Chaos – and constant internet chatter – ensued.
“Even though Xu Xiaodong is not a real professional MMA artist, that fight has really helped to spread MMA to those people who really don’t know about the sport,” said Wang. “They now start to talk about it, learn about it and they start to learn about which is the biggest organisation, which the UFC is.”