Martin Nguyen and HamSeo-Hee top the honours on gala night.
HONG KONG, CHINA - Media OutReach- 17 September, 2018 - ONE Championship's dual-belted king Martin "TheSitu-Asian" Nguyen and Road FC's dominant atomweight queen Ham Seo-Hee werehanded their crowns as the inaugural Asia MMA Awards' Male and Female Fightersof the Year on Friday as the leading lights of mixed martial arts gathered fora gala celebration of the sport as it continues to take the region by storm.
Asia MMA Awards Fighter of the Year Martin Nguyen with Tiger Muay Thai's Viwat Sakulrat, UFC fighter Ben Nguyen and Head Coach of the Year George Hickman. Photo Credit: Bud Lau
For the Vietnamese-Australian Nguyen (11-3) the award caps off anincredible 12 months that saw him capture ONE's world featherweight andlightweight belts -- both via knockout.
The 29-year-old has now established himself as arguably the bestpound-for-pound fighter in Asia and was on hand at the Qube at PMQ in the heartof Hong Kong's Central district on Friday night.
"I'm very honoured to get recognition forall the hard work and dedication I put into this sport. I want to thankeveryone who has been supporting me from day one, especially the fans," Nguyensaid.
"It's been a rollercoaster ride thisyear, but don't ever count me out. That's the worst thing you can ever do iscount me out. I'll be back in the winning column this year."
South Korean Ham (18-8) was also there toshare the spotlight and to raise a glass to a year that has seen her win anddefend her atomweight title and further add to her reputation as one ofthe toughest fighters on the planet.
"I've been training hard for the past sixyear and this year is the culmination of all my work," said the 31-year-old.
"This award has inspired me to keep goingand continue to train harder. I'm very happy and I'm very surprised. I want tothat all my team for their support."
Around 200 of Asian MMA's major playersdescended on Hong Kong for a night that reflected on the greatest moments thesport witnessed over the past 12 months while warming everyone up for a futurethat promises plenty more action.
The world's major promotions shared the spoils on the big night, withthe UFC's stunning first foray into the Chinese market -- UFC Shanghai: Bispingvs Gastelum last November -- being named Event of the Year, while South Korea's"Mr Perfect" Kang Kyung-Ho (14-8, one no contest) was on hand in Hong Kong toaccept the Submission of the Year for the triangle choke that finished Guido"Ninja'" Cannetti (8-3) at UFC Fight Night 127. The UFC's wildly popular RedDela Cruz was also up on stage to accept the Ring Girl of The Year award.
UFC Asia vice-president Kevin Chang said it was a greathonour to collect the Event of the Year for its first event in Mainland China.
"It's been an amazing year for the UFCand I want to thank everyone who has been there from day one," Chang said.
"I remember how it was six or seven yearsago, not many people knew what MMA was. We're just really glad to be here torepresent what the sport really means.
"Next year we're hoping to open more andmore markets in Asia."
Along with Nguyen's honour, the Singapore-based ONE Championship hadPhilippine bantamweight hero Kevin "The Silencer" Belingon (19-5) handed BestWalkout for the traditional Ifugao tribe song that takes him out into battle,while there was pandemonium among the Hong Kongers present when local heavyweighthero Alain "The Panther" Ngalani (4-4, one no contest) was handed theKnockout of the Year award for his historic 13-second demolition of Hideki"Shrek" Sekine (7-2) at ONE: Total Victory in Jakarta.
Cheers also went off around the room when the Fight of the Year wasawarded to the bantamweight bout between Moon Jea-Hoon (10-11) and Asakura Kai(5-1) at Road FC 039 -- a true epic ended when Moon landed the knockoutblow with seconds remaining in the third.
"The Asia MMAAwards are a celebration of all the things we love about the sport and paytribute to the people who get in that cage and put on a show for us all," saidMatt Eaton, founder and CEO of Hong Kong-based Asia MMA award hosts andorganisers Tap Media.
"We want to givethese fighters the recognition they are due, but to also honour those who aresometimes missed by the spotlight, fromhead coaches to gym owners, photographers, ring girls and the brands thatsupport the fighters on their journey."
The debut of theAsia MMA Awards in Hong Kong also precedes a huge weekend for combat sports inSouthern China.
OnSaturday (15 Sept), the Copa De Hong Kong BJJ tournament returns to theTsim Sha Tsui Community Hall for its fifth year, while further up North inGuangzhou on Saturday night is the rebirth of Legend FC.
The Asia MMAAwards gala dinner was supported by Hong Kong's top craft brewery YoungMasters, Harley Davidson, Opro,Tune Talk, Cellarmaster Wines, productionagency RESET, digital and virtual reality agency Shadow Factory,plus Mojo Nomad hotels.
To followeverything that's happening in Asian MMA, and to find out who's doing what towhom, head to The Fight Nation -- brought to you by Tap Media.
For moreinformation, please contact Matt Eaton at email@example.com.
All the Asia MMAAwards Winners
Best Walkout - Kevin Belingon, ONE Championship
Photographer of the Year - David Ash
Best Technical Equipment - Venum
Amateur Fighter of the Year - Theebaan Govindasamy, MIMMA
Best Destination Gym - Tiger Muay Thai & MMA
Ring Girl of the Year - Red Dela Cruz, UFC
Event of the Year - UFC Shanghai: Bisping vs. Gastelum
Most Functional Clothing Brand - Reebok
Rookie of the Year - Hwang In-Su, ROAD FC
Gym of the Year - Team Lakay
Submission of the Year - Kang Kyung-Ho subs. Guido Cannetti (triangle)-- UFC Fight Night 127
Head Coach of the Year - George Hickman, Tiger Muay Thai & MMA
Knockout of the Year - Alain Ngalani KO'd Hideki Sekine - ONE: TotalVictory
TFN Readers' Choice Award - Max Leali
Fight of the Year - Moon Jea-Hoon vs. Asakura Kai, Road FC
Male Fighter of the Year - Martin Nguyen, ONE Championship
Female Fighter of the Year - Ham Seo-Hee, ROAD FC