“Rock Man” Chen Lei has persevered through many of life’s toughest obstacles when others have counted him out. Now, the stage is set for him to make his mark on the world.
On Friday, 26 May, the undefeated Changsha, China, native will make his promotional debut against fellow newcomer Jeremy “Predator” Meciaz in a catchweight bout at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES at the Singapore Indoor Arena.
“I am ready to showcase my skills on this international platform,” he says. “I believe in myself.”
When the opening bell sounds, the 28-year-old Chinese martial artist will be a long way from his humble beginnings in the Hunan Province. But in many ways, life prepared Chen to become the warrior he is today.
“I was born into an ordinary peasant family,” he says. “My parents were poor, but that also kept me grounded, and gave me the courage to face difficulties.”
Lack of finances did not stop Chen from enjoying life. As a child, he enjoyed sporting activities such swimming, and track and field. He was also a massive video game fanatic. But when he was 18, “Rock Man” began training in sanda, and that served as a gateway to other disciplines. Two years later, he added upon his base by learning Muay Thai and boxing.
Not content to be proficient with his fists and feet, he also added Brazilian jiu-jitsu to his repertoire. The decision to add grappling was the final piece of the puzzle that led Chen, an eventual Shanghai Open BJJ champion, to mixed martial arts.
“Mixed martial arts is so close to a real fight,” he says. “I studied striking and grappling, then wanted to try it myself. I have fallen in love with it. Mixed martial arts has given me purpose in life.I have started a new life through it.”
This new life of Chen’s is one that his family has embraced with a bit of reservation.
“My family supports me, but they are worried about me,” he explains. “They are afraid I will get injured. But I do know this: I am a fighter, and this is my life. I am very determined.”
Last year, that determination nearly overwhelmed Chen when he stepped up for his first professional mixed martial arts bout.
“I was very nervous for my first professional match, and it was hard to control myself,” he admits. “I made many mistakes and almost lost, but finally submitted my opponent. When the referee raised my hand, I was so excited. That feeling is the best.”
It is a feeling Chen has grown well acquainted with. The Changsha Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy product has had three additional bouts, and finished all of his opponents to date, more than earning his nickname of “Rock Man.”
Now, Chen will have another opportunity to display his talents on the global stage at ONE: DYNASY OF HEROES. He will meet fellow newcomer Jeremy “Predator” Meciaz in a catchweight bout.
Meciaz is an Indonesian Grappling Champion who will be making his professional mixed martial arts debut. The 25-year-old Jakarta native trains at Team Phantom MMA under coach Linson Simanjutak, and has long trained in boxing and other elements of striking.
As the saying goes, styles make fights. If that holds true, ONE fans are in for a treat, as both men are decorated BJJ practitioners. Chen is quick to praise his opponent’s abilities, and he is ready for a war when the match hits the mat.
“Jeremy’s ground game is very powerful. Even when it goes to the ground, I am not afraid, because I am also strong on the ground. Every opponent I have encountered has been in serious trouble,” he notes.
“I have finished every opponent I have fought so far. For me, there is nothing difficult about this. Train hard, fight easy — that phrase couldn’t be more true.”