I went to Chongqing last weekend to watch the Kunlun fights event, featuring a few great fighters (Bellator’s George Hickman and recently-signed-to-the-UFC Vuyisile Collosa come to mind). My major purpose was to interview Yang Jianping, which I managed to do and write about in Fightland.
But two others stood out for me, and unfortunately a lot of that has to do with the fact that I had little contact with these two fighters, and therefore can only sketch them out here.
Both are Mongolian fighters.
One of them was 47 year old Jiang Longyun, a legend in the fight community here in China known simply as Lao Jiang (Old Jiang). He fought a young, powerful Swedish fighter trained by Farnam Marzai, an accomplished Muay Thai and MMA fighter turned trainer. It was a horrible mismatch, and should have ended very quickly. The Swede took his time and was cautious, mostly because that’s how one wins fights, but also because the 47 year old Mongolian is still a great wrestler and competitor.
I wondered what the point was, getting up there and having your head split open at his age. Jiang is a businessman up in Harbin, and takes regular trips across the border with Russia (and some say North Korea as well) ferrying stuff back and forth. He was a wrestler as a young man, and opened a gym in his hometown of Harbin just for kicks. He’s notorious in the China fight world for not caring a whit for the business end, not worrying about marketing or star power or getting a belt. He just loves to fight. Sina posted this story about him, which tells us nothing really about him, except that he is old, has fought hundreds of battles, bled profusely the other night in Chongqing, and will most likely do it again.
The other fighter is a young girl, 20 year old Myadagmaa. She fought a girl out of Qing Zili’s stable. Zili is a champion Sanda fighter, with titles all over the world. Now she trains girls in her gym in Beijing, and they look great. The fight was uneven, similar to the Lao Jiang fight, but the Mongolian girl kept fighting. Her hair stuck to her face, she was kicked and punched and thrown … but she went on and finished losing by decision. When she came to Qing Zili to congratulate her opponent’s coach, Zili wiped Myadagmaa’s hair out of her face in a tender way.
Afterwards, at the buffet the promoters put on for the fighters, I invited Myadagmaa to sit with us. She had no corner. Nobody with her at all. She speaks not a word of Chinese, and Farnam was asked midway through the event to corner her. He had six other fighters to take care of, but he sent one of his seconds to stand in her corner. Sometime in the third round, with the result out of question and the Mongolian girl’s long curly hair plastered all over her neck and face, Farnam’s second helped her wrap it up in a bow, so she could finish the last minute.
I helped her communicate with the promotions staff, who were arranging planes out of Chongqing for the next day. Myadagmaa wasn’t on a plane though, she was the only fighter heading out on a train. A hard seat to Jingzhou for another fight. 500USD a pop.
A Mongolian girl, 20 years old, taking long train rides from one sweltering, chaotic Chinese city to another, fighting for a bit of cash, pitted against girls with twice her experience and full gyms behind them. She speaks not a word of Chinese, and just a little bit of English.
I got up at 7am and stalked the cantina in the Haide Hotel hoping to get her contact info before she left on her train. But I missed her somehow. I picture her on a train, her back to me, rain on the window pane and a mass of curly black locks tied up carelessly.