Mixed martial arts may be a predominantly male sport but Nicole Chua is determined to crash the party. The diminutive accountant will make her professional MMA debut for Evolve MMA at ONE Fighting Championship ‘War of The Lions’ on March 31st at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Don’t underestimate this 155cm-tall chilli padi though; Nicole has been involved in martial arts for nearly a decade, and has fought competitively in Thailand on multiple occasions. In fact, Nicole holds a bronze medal from the Amateur World Muay Thai Games.
MMA Not For Women? Nonsense!
Nicole is keen to dispel the notion that there is no place for women in MMA. She argues, "This couldn’t be further from the truth, and anyone who has trained in martial arts and understands what it is about would not hold this viewpoint. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are still uneducated about MMA, and view it as a primitive, violent, and unsophisticated sport. This will change with time though, as MMA is now the fastest growing sport in the world."
To illustrate, she shares, "In just a few years, Evolve has grown from just a hundred students to thousands, and a lot of them are female. As more people become educated about the sport, I believe we will see more and more women able to compete without having to deal with any bias or stigma."
The 27-year-old considers her role model to be Gina Carano, the female MMA fighter who’s also making her mark on television and in movies such as the Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire. "I think she is cool inside the ring but outside the ring, she is so sexy and feminine. That changes the perception of many who think that female fighters must look or behave manly," says Nicole.
Becoming A True Mixed Martial Artist
Nicole’s love affair with martial arts started at 18 when her uncle introduced her to Muay Thai. "I was initially drawn to martial arts as a way to stay fit and learn some self-defense, but now it is so much more, it is a lifestyle," she says,"Martial arts is now a very big part of my life, and I am very grateful that I get to train with the best in the world at Evolve."
But Nicole knew that she wanted to expand her expertise beyond just the Thai "art of eight limbs". As she puts it, "I have always had an interest in MMA, and a desire to train in all the disciplines of martial arts. After meeting Chatri (Sityodtong), founder and CEO of Evolve MMA, and getting exposure to all that Evolve offers, I knew that MMA was what I wanted to do." As she explains, "Muay Thai is great, and it serves as an excellent base for my transition into MMA, but I am really enjoying learning the other aspects of the game like BJJ and wrestling. My goal is to become a true mixed martial artist, and be proficient in all disciplines."
Gets Treated Like The Rest Of The Guys
Being female doesn’t accord Nicole any special privileges at the gym; her teammates treat her like the rest of the guys. "We all treat each other with mutual respect on the Evolve Fight Team. There is no discrimination or special treatment for anyone; World Champion or beginner. I may be viewed as petite, feminine, and girly from the outside, but when I am training with my teammates at Evolve they treat me just like everyone else. On the mats, everyone is equal. They push me hard in training, and want me to succeed in what I am doing. Of course, my skills are still very raw compared to some of my teammates who are already World Champions, but they respect my determination and passion for MMA. That is the most important characteristic to becoming a professional fighter in MMA."
Currently, Nicole is preparing hard for her ONE FC debut. She shares, "I train twice a day, six days a week. The training is all very intensive. It can vary from day to day, but generally the focus in the mornings is on MMA and grappling, and in the afternoons the focus is on Muay Thai and striking. We also mix in some strength and conditioning training and road work throughout the week. Sunday is my rest day, and much needed after a week of training under the Evolve Fighter’s Program."
Maybe it’s her experience talking, but this feisty lady is looking forward to her big match against Jeet Toshi from India. "I am not nervous, at least not yet," she says."I believe I am prepared, and through proper preparation comes confidence. Right now, all I feel is excitement and honour to be able to represent Evolve and my country, Singapore, at a world class competition. I always believe I will win; I don’t train to lose."
Catch Nicole Chua in action at the ONE Fighting Championship ‘War of Lions’ on March 31 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Tickets on sale at www.sistic.com.sg.
What her friends think about her martial arts involvement…
All my friends are very supportive of what I do. Sometimes they may be surprised, but that is usually because they don’t really understand what it is I do. Once people see how hard I work and my passion for the sport they are always very impressed and supportive.
Whether MMA affects her love life…
No, MMA doesn’t have any affect on my love life. And look at me! Most people don’t have any idea I am a professional mixed martial artist by my appearance. I am quite short, petite, and long hair. I wouldn’t imagine anyone is intimidated by me.
Whether her ONE FC appearance will inspire more women to take up MMA…
I hope so. ONE FC is very supportive of women’s MMA, and it would be great to see more women get involved in the sport. Women’s MMA is already pretty big in the U.S., so I think it is only a matter of time before we see a similar level of female participation in Asia. This sport is great for everyone, and can truly change lives.
Qualities she looks for in a man…
As long as he is a nice guy, treats me well, and loves me, that is enough.