‘A Hard Life Builds Tough Guys’ – How Fan Rong’s Uneasy Upbringing Propelled Him Toward ONE Championship

Brazilian MMA fighter Yuri Simoes squares off against Chinese MMA fighter Fan Rong at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX III

Chinese standout Fan Rong is less than one week away from the biggest opportunity of his 22-fight professional career.

On Friday, May 5, at ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III on Prime Video, the man known as “King Kong Warrior” squares off with former two-division ONE World Champion Aung La N Sang in a pivotal middleweight MMA showdown.

Slated to go down at the sold-out 1stBank Center in Colorado, this bout takes place on ONE’s groundbreaking debut on U.S. soil and is critically important to Fan’s hopes for a rematch with reigning middleweight king Reinier de Ridder.

Ahead of his high-stakes clash with “The Burmese Python,” we trace this talented contender’s journey to the Circle’s bright lights.

Growing Up With ‘The Toughest People In The Country’

Born and raised in the frigid climate of northeastern China, Fan has fond memories of growing up in a stable, supportive household with brothers who enjoyed roughhousing just as much as he did.

Despite that comfortable family life, he was nonetheless shaped – and hardened – by his harsh surroundings.

The 29-year-old told ONEFC.com:

“In my memory, there was always ice on the road, snow on trees and cars, and people wearing a lot of clothes. The Chinese call us the toughest people in the country. I guess cold weather gives you a hard life, and a hard life builds tough guys.”

Fan Rong walks to the Circle

More than just cold weather, Fan’s upbringing was rough-and-tumble and filled with regular fist fights with his schoolmates.

Needless to say, his parents were happy to see Fan put his energy to positive use when he pursued sanctioned combat and the path of martial arts as a career.

Fan said:

“I know that a lot of young people who choose this career have problems with their family at first, but not my family, not from where I came from. Like I said, my hometown was a rough town, and people see a lot of things crazier than a cage fight, so it doesn’t really bother my parents. For them, it’s just another job that might get their son a good life.” 

Brazilian MMA fighter Yuri Simoes squares off against Chinese MMA fighter Fan Rong at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX III

Fighting Came Easy

Fan was a natural fighter from an early age, but it wasn’t until he began studying the Chinese martial art of sanda that he took a much more serious perspective on hand-to-hand combat.

He said:

“When I started to do sanda in school, I realized that I’m really good at this. I reached the level of those who learned for years in just weeks. And I guess that was when I realized, hey I’m really built for this and maybe I should try to make it my profession someday.”

Fan Rong throws ground and pound

With his top-end athleticism and ability to learn and apply new techniques, the budding fighter showed true world-class potential.

So much was obvious when, after becoming a police officer in 2013, he was called upon to teach martial arts to other officers. That would be the last job he had before turning his full attention to MMA.

Fan said:

“I was a member of the armed police force. And not so long after I joined, they selected me as the martial arts coach of the women’s special force in the Sichuan province. I finished my service there and retired as a private in 2015.”

Pictures from the fight between Vitaly Bigdash and Fan Rong from ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II

Credit To ‘The Best Coach’ 

Between his professional debut in 2016 and his ONE debut in 2019, Fan compiled a jaw-dropping 17-1 record that included a 16-fight winning streak and near-perfect finishing rate.

Known for his remarkable power and strength, “King Kong Warrior” credits his success to his longtime coach, Chinese MMA pioneer and ONE veteran Jiang Longyun.

He said:

“I’m lucky to have the best coach and gym so I could focus on my career, becoming the best middleweight of China’s new generation of MMA.

“Ask anyone in China in our industry, nobody wouldn’t know his name. And the fact is, almost everyone in China who’s now fighting on the global stage has somehow related to him. And even today, he still coaches us himself, wrestles with us, spars with us. Just a legend who’s always being a role model for the young ones. I will always see him as my biggest inspiration.”

Fan Rong takes side control

More than just an example of success, Jiang’s teachings around daily discipline molded Fan into the elite fighter he is today.

Fan said:

“He’s giving you one piece of little advice every single day, about how you should eat, how you should rest, or how you should take care of yourself, and he’s always there with you. But when you look back, all of those ideas and pieces of advice converge into a life guide of how to be a real man.” 

‘The Biggest Fight Of My Career’

From the bitter cold of northeast China, the Longyun MMA athlete is now ready to compete in America for the first time in his life and in the most important fight of his life.

A win over a legendary fighter like Aung La N Sang would propel him one massive step closer to a shot at divisional gold.

He said:

“Aung La was the former World Champion, and he’s been through tough wars against world-class opponents. This is the biggest fight of my career. Winning this one would show that I’m true championship material, and I can’t wait for it.”

Fan Rong raises his arm

Fan isn’t backing down from the high-stakes nature of this bout. In fact, he’s happy to embrace the pressure of taking on the division’s most dangerous knockout artist at a historic, blockbuster event.

“King Kong Warrior” added:

“I’m thrilled and honored to be on such a big event, facing such a big opponent. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I must take it. I will shine on that day and show the world that I’m one of the best middleweights who deserves to get a title shot.”

🎥 TRIFECTA: All the best shots from two-time ADCC World Champion Yuri Simoes' 🥋 ONE debut against "King Kong Warrior" Fan Rong 🦍

🎥 TRIFECTA: All the best shots from two-time ADCC World Champion Yuri Simoes' 🥋 ONE debut against "King Kong Warrior" Fan Rong 🦍 #InsideTheMatrix3

Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, November 13, 2020

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