Competition is something with which the MMA world is not unaccustomed. When it is between someone you train with in the same club it is not part of the norm.
Fight fans will soon find out what happens when two teammates from Heilongjiang’s Long Yun MMA Club face one another for a title match. The silent code of self-imposed etiquette which binds brother-warriors together will be tested in China’s first MMA National Championship fight.
Wu ChengJie (2-0) and Yuan ChunBo (2-1) share a passion for mixed martial arts, a training club, and an apartment. Their unique situation arose as a result of the two friends winning via tapout against their opponents at RUFF 6. They were immediately faced with the harsh reality they either must opt one of them to head into the semi-final and leave the other without a chance to qualify for the 2013 RMB 1,000,000 Super Fight or they would have to square off against one other for the chance of a lifetime.
“It was never RUFF’s intention to put teammates against each other because we understand the complications of fighting someone in your own camp,” explains RUFF matchmaker Brandon Resnick. “But this is a sport, and Wu ChengJie and Yuan ChunBo both earned the opportunity to fight for a shot at the Super Fight. If the reward is great enough, both fighters should want each other to have the opportunity. They’ve proven themselves as true professionals, and this should change nothing outside the cage once its done.”
The pair may have many similarities, but their fighting styles are individually unique. Wu is a strong stand up fighter and is undeniably brutal when things head for the ground. At RUFF 5 he took division rival Dong YanJun down in just over a minute. Wu, modest and cordial by many accounts, does not seem to think the match-up against his teammate will go quite the same.
“Yuan Chunbo is a versatile fighter with perfect skills,” comments Wu ChengJie. “He knows me too well, so it’s hard for me to bring my usual skills.”
Yuan employs focused precision through strategically placed kicks and punches to pick apart his opponents while standing. The same meticulousness is exhibited in his cunning ground game. At RUFF 4Yuan submitted Dong YanJun in the first round with an armbar after punishing Dong’s midsection and liver with explosive kicks. At RUFF 6he earned “Submission of the Night” when he submitted Sandro da Silva in the second round with a kneebar.
The matchup between the two has been a hot button topic for fighters on the RUFF roster. Some would never consider facing off against their teammates. Yet others have stated they see no issue with doing so.
When the chance to be namedChina’s official champion, and to pocket 1,000,000 RMB, are added to the equation alongside the loyalty and camaraderie between club members and teammates such a decision becomes infinitely more complex. The major questions in such a situation, one would suppose, are what the motives each fighter would have in facing their partner and what is the nature of their character overall which would allow them to come to such a decision. Needless to say, Wu and Yuan both face the decision with honest and open trepidation, mutual respect for one another and no desire to cause controversy.
Sandro da Silva, Wang Guan, and others have openly and adamantly voiced they would not face off against their teammates.
“I would not fight my teammate . . . you don’t see in the MMA world two guys that train together, do sparring together, hang out together and are from the same team together fight each other. This doesn’t exist,” offers Sandro da Silva. “Friends don’t fight friends . . . I don’t believe that I would punch my friend as I would punch someone that I don’t know.”
“I’m not that willing to [fight a teammate] . . . we are brothers training together for many years, we don’t want to meet on the arena and fight against each other,” explains featherweight division leader Wang Guan, the man either Wu or Yuan will face in the February 2, 21013 Super Fight. “I think Yuan ChunBo will perform better in Jiu Jitsu . . . Wu Chengjie has advantages in standing side, so the fight will be full of cliffhanger.”
Arthit Hanchana and Zhao EriDeMuTu are among others who agree there is nothing wrong with the match. Kong HanDong, another fighter who trains with Wu and Yuan, would fight the men he trains with. His attitude towards the issue is one which arguably embodies the Eastern tradition of honor among warriors.
“MMA is a game for real men,” states Kong. “Fight like a man for glory . . . be brothers and friends outside the arena, [and] rivals inside the arena”
It has been suggested Yuan’s only perceived weakness was revealed in hisRUFF 5 fight against Wang Guan. Yuan seemed to have trouble keeping up with the striking game. This could be his downfall when facing Wu. If he wants to win against Wu and have a chance to head into a rematch against Wang for the Super Fight then Yuan will have to figure out how to subdue Wu’s accomplished punches.
“Honestly, when first I signed the contract with RUFF, I realized that I could eventually meet Yuan Chunbo in a fight,” adds Wu ChengJie. “I never thought it would come so soon . . . it’s a battle between two excellent fighters.”
RUFF‘s 10-part reality series, RUFF Journey, which began airing November 27, 2012, and is broadcast throughout China weekly, is supposed to star Wu ChengJie and Yuan ChunBo as it leads up to the 2013 Super Fight.
The co-main event between Wu ChengJie and Yuan ChunBo at RUFF 7will air live on Saturday, December 22.
As always, continue to check back in at ProMMANow.com for up to the minute coverage of this and many other events. If interested in any further information about RUFF, RUFF 7, or the RMB 1,000,000 Super Fight then visit RUFFChina.com.