Liu Si Cong: Putting the mixed into Chinese martial arts

Liu Si Cong will take on Gurdarshan Mangat at Super Fight League 3 on May 6 in New Delhi, India. Super Fight League 3 will air live and exclusive at

As the home of Kung Fu, with over four million soldiers and a population of over a billion people, if there is any country most equipped to produce an MMA star, it is China.

It is the land that has given us Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, as well as countless styles, myths and legends of martial arts. Yet despite that nation having taken to MMA as well as anywhere else, it has so far failed to produce an international star in any of the major combat sports.

There have been some Chinese fighters to have made the transition but most have left the organizations of their own country perhaps too late to make a significant impact in the international MMA community. Enter Liu Si Cong, a 21-year-old fighting out of Shanghai that has dedicated his adult life to becoming the best mixed-martial-artist he can be.

“My life is entirely MMA. I don’t smoke, drink or even have a girlfriend. This is my lifetime dream. I have the best coaches in China in the Fighters Unite team in Shanghai. I am thankful for the opportunity to fight in India and I am ready to prove I can be a champion.”

Making his debut against the highly touted Gary Mangat with the Super Fight League on May 6th, he is relishing the challenge. With the coaches at Fighters Unite, Cong feels fully prepared and is focused towards making a winning start.

“I train under American Silas Maynard and he is easily the best coach in China. I have trained at other academies but Fighters Unite is the best by far, focussing on more than just fitness and strength. I also have Valdet Gashi teaching me Muay Thai, and Chris Mcdonald teaching wrestling. Silas puts everything together and makes it all makes sense”.

The martial arts most associated with China all incorporate kicks, punches, elbows, sweeps and throws. Yet Cong has never trained in any of these more traditional martial arts, simply because he believes the likes of kung fu are not practical styles of fighting when it comes to MMA.

“Chinese are known for movie style kung fu, but I think we all know that kung fu is just not very practical in MMA. Instead Chinese fighters in north of China are known for their Sanda. It is similar to Muay Thai but with takedowns. In the South you have more Muay Thai and in the middle, Shanghai where I train, you have a large wrestling and boxing population.”

Chinese legend Bruce Lee is widely regarded as the forefather of MMA, having been one of the original men to have started cross training martial arts and bringing together practitioners of different styles to compete against each other. Lee’s own creation of the style of Jeet Kune Do was the original mixed martial-art, combining aspects of kung fu, wrestling and boxing.

It is the belief that being schooled in a combination of martial-arts truly makes a great fighter that Cong has based his training on, rather then any sentimental regard for kung fu. Cong combines his skills with the mindset usually seen within an American wrestler, a result of being trained by the likes of Maynard and McDonald.

“I train in boxing, wrestling, Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu, alongside the special style of Silas MMA. Everyone says I fight just like my coach Silas Maynard. I am a fighter with a great chin and the biggest heart. I like to push my opponent hard so it breaks their will. I want my opponent to verbally quit and not want to come out for another round with me.”

At only 21-years-old, the potential of Cong both as a fighter and as a sports star is immense. Chinese sportsmen or women to have made the transition outside of the communist regime to succeed on the international stage have been few and far between.

However, since the success of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing (as the nation with the highest overall medal tally) there has been an active drive to see young Chinese athletes pursue success overseas and Cong is among the very first of its MMA stars to go abroad in their fighting prime. With organizations such as Art of War, China already has established a place for MMA within its community. Cong is now looking to be the first breakout star of Chinese MMA.

“Sports have always been very important to Chinese people, but since the Olympics, there is much more attention to the growth of all sports. More and more of the more traditional kung fu and Sanda gyms are bringing in MMA coaches. China may be behind in some things, but once we set our minds to being the best at something, we often succeed.”

As both a neighbouring nation and somewhere with many similarities to his own home nation, Cong is comfortable with fighting in India, even if it means taking on the home crowd favorite. As part of one of the standout MMA camps in Asia, Cong has also already experienced Indian MMA first hand.

“My coach wanted to bring some of the Indian MMA fighters over. We had some kickboxing shows for them and many people were here talking about the great India fighters. So, I knew that India was developing fighters and am excited to see how I compare. China and India have some of the world’s largest populations. With these resources we will soon be able to produce some of the best fighters in the world. I think this fight will be a great test. Fighting in India will not affect me. I know that if the crowd boo me it will just make me beat the Indian fighter that much more.”

There is no doubt that Cong is coming to fight. Young, fearless and hungry for success, his ambition knows no bounds. It is a mindset very similar to that of his opponent on May 6th. Cong vs Mangat could be the SFL 3’s fight of the night.

“I feel very fortunate to be in the SFL. I want to keep fighting undefeated fighters and win. It is my debut fight, but I hope to be the main event soon, I will do everything I can to ensure that happens. Win or lose, I want to put on a great performance. My goal is to give the crowed something to talk about.”

As one of the world’s most powerful nations, it would only be fitting if China, given its history and current status, could produce a genuine MMA star. Whether Cong is the king in waiting of Chinese MMA will become clear after May 6th.

Watch Liu Si Cong take on Gary Mangat at SFL 3 on May 6th, Live and exclusive on

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