The 26-year-old has had many setbacks since he first picked up the sport as a teenager, but by staying the course, he is now in a position to make a name for himself on the global stage for martial arts.
The Singaporean will face the highly-touted Eko Roni Saputra this Friday, 12 April after a long absence from competition, but a win in Manila, Philippines will show he is ready to go on a run in ONE Championship’s flyweight division.
Soe was first exposed to martial arts at the age of 8 when his uncle enrolled him in a Silat class.
Though his first classes did not spark an obsession, it gave him an introduction to the basics of combat, which led to his interest being piqued by a new sport a few years later.
“[Silat] gave me a little background. I knew a little bit of kicking, punching, and moving,” he says.
“My friend introduced me to mixed martial arts – he showed me a video on YouTube and I thought, ‘Whoa, this is quite cool,’ so I tried to look it up online, but I doubted if there were any gyms in Singapore because there wasn’t a lot of people who knew about mixed martial arts.”
He was mistaken. At 14 years old, he stumbled upon a gym called Fight G, where he first started training, before he switched to his current home gym, Impact MMA.
Combining multiple disciplines proved to be challenging as he sparred with students who had experience in specific disciplines, but Soe was not discouraged.
“I get beat up standing up, or I get beat up on the ground, but it’s okay, I learned,” he said.
“I had a slow start. People start with boxing first or Muay Thai first before transitioning to mixed martial arts, but for me, I just went all out.
“When I went into mixed martial arts, that’s when I started to hone my skills in Muay Thai, wrestling, BJJ, and boxing. I picked it all up faster. My background is really mixed martial arts – I mix everything up.”
His entry as a novice in almost all aspects of the sport was a blessing in disguise. Soe was able to learn techniques specifically for mixed martial arts, rather than adjust, adapt, or re-learn anything.
“I would describe him as one of the new generation who started off as a mixed martial artist. [Both] his grappling, [and] his striking are strong,” says one of Impact’s founders, Kok Kwang Koh.
“From day one, he’s been training jiu-jitsu and striking, and from very early on he started wrestling and boxing. It’s really hard to say there’s just one base.”
Despite his progress in the gym, Soe admits his family was not particularly supportive of his passion – particularly when he picked up injuries from practice sessions.
However, he continued to train while he was studying, and decided his future lay in mixed martial arts.
He committed himself fully to the sport, and with the backing of his coaches and teammates, he made a promising start to life as a professional.
He won two of his first three matches by stoppage on the regional circuit, and then defeated Muhamad Haidar via first-round submission in his debut on the global stage for martial arts.
“Growing up, I’ve been supporting myself and of course, the gym here is like my family,” he says.
“Without them, I won’t make it this far. They’ve been supporting me since day one.”
It has been more than two years since that success in the world’s largest martial arts organization, as several roadblocks have delayed his return.
However, he has never stopped working hard to improve in the gym, and he finally has the chance to show the fruits of his labor in the Mall Of Asia Arena.
Manila | 12 April | 7:00PM | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onehonor19