On this coming June 15, 2013, Malaysia will witness MMA history as the country’s first and highly ambitious large scale amateur MMA tournament comes to a conclusion. Malaysian Invasion MMA (MIMMA) has accomplished unbelievable growth in the sport in just half a year.
Malaysia has never been considered a hotbed of MMA in any respect. While the adjacent city-state of Singapore has launched the takeover of the Asian MMA scene, and neighboring Indonesia had an MMA sanctioning body and TV broadcast as long as ten years ago, Malaysia has been content to grow its combat sports in traditional areas and slowly creep up competitors in the blossoming Southeast Asia BJJ scene. However, with the full-scale assault on the country by ONE Fighting Championships, and then the advent of the amateur competition MIMMA, a dearth of dormant MMA fighters and fans awakened and joined in the movement.
MIMMA began as the brainchild of Alex Wong, a superfan of sorts who first turned his creative talents to designing walkout apparel for fighters he liked and who had taken Malaysia to be their new home. “I designed t-shirts for fighters to show my appreciation for their commitment,” Wong is proud to say, “I spent tens of thousands of ringgit on making them and sponsoring the fighters, and at least I can say it made them happy. I’m a huge MMA fan, a huge UFC fan.”
Watching ONE FC live left a huge impression on Wong; it is what set him clamoring to be involved in whatever way he could to develop the sport in his home country. “I met Victor (Cui – ONE FC CEO) after ONE FC 2, when (Malaysian fighter) Peter Davis won in Jakarta,” Wong shares. “Victor is my idol – yeah, true,” he exclaims. Wong is a very successful businessman himself who can recognize and appreciate aptitude and ability in others. Then his epiphany for MIMMA came at the first ONE Asia MMA Summit in 2012. How did it happen? “Victor and Matt Hume said ‘grow MMA’, that the sport must be built from the amateur level,” he shares, “So I got Brent Yap, Henry Goh, and Jack Star involved to start it.”
However, it wasn’t an overnight decision. Wong was an MMA fan, to be sure, but his business mind was always searching for a way to contribute towards an end result. “The idea always there, I’ve been searching for the right company to sponsor it,” Wong states, “Out of 50 companies I presented the idea to, finally Jason Lo of Tune Talk received it. Thanks Jason! Now he loves MMA more than anyone.”
And thus by a huge fan and a huge sponsor, a huge idea was brought to reality. The project, of course, turned out to be enormous in scope. “We started developing the idea from a simple presentation file,” Wong explains,”and it became huge.” MIMMA’s original concept of “Anyone can fight” began with an open call for any and all Malaysian participants to meet in the initial phase, the try outs. The site of the event was planned to be Paradigm Mall, possibly an odd choice for such an event, but Wong has a very considerate explanation. “I put it in Paradigm Mall to challenge people’s opinion of MMA,” he explains, “I wanted to change them from thinking it’s just violent to the fact it’s a real sport.”
MIMMA’s first tryouts were nothing short of unbelievable. Three hundred participants signed up to compete. It was so unbelievable, in fact, that naysayers started challenging it on the basis of frivolity and lack of safety. Wong and company proved them all wrong by continuing with ladder matches, quarterfinals, and semifinals with attention paid to the refereeing predominantly, and well-organized events secondarily. In the process they garnered a broadcast deal with StarSports and tagged the grand Stadium Negara for the Finals on June 15, 2013.
MIMMA Finals 1
June 15, 2013
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia