Royston Wee (2-0) doesn’t want to be simply known as the first Singaporean fighter to make it to the UFC. In fact, just like any other aspiring combatant looking to make a name in Mixed Martial Arts, Wee wants to be the best in the world at what he does.
And the MFC vet took a huge stride towards that goal when he put to pen paper in a deal with the largest MMA organization in the world.
For his promotional UFC debut in January, win, lose, or draw, he believes he has come a long way, and he’s ready to battle at all costs to get to the top of the fight chain.
“I’m just like every other fighter man, be it in Bellator or even ONE FC. I want to be a champion. I’m happy to represent Singapore in the UFC, but to me it doesn’t matter if I’m the first to compete there,” he told MMASucka.com, in a media scrum that was held at Marina Bay Sands late Wednesday morning. “Put it this way: If I don’t do well and future fighters start doing better, who would care if I’m the first Singaporean UFC fighter? People will only look at results. In the long term, they’ll judge for themselves if I’m UFC caliber or not. In a few years’ time, there will be better Singaporean fighters coming through the ranks so I’m just motivated to work towards my dream of being the best fighter in the world.”
Unbeknownst to most people, Wee was indeed surprised when the UFC brass offered him a shot at the big show. And you probably know why. When was the last time the promotion signed a fighter with only two pro bouts on his resume? Well, an argument could be made that this is the UFC’s first show in Singapore, and they needed a native fighter on the card. But why would they choose someone who hasn’t fought in two years, then? When queried, Wee was taken aback too but he presumes that his successful performance in “The Ultimate Fighter: China” try-outs, was what garnered the attention of matchmaker Sean Shelby.
“The news did take me by surprise at first, but I honestly believe my exposure in the TUF: China try-outs gave me this opportunity,” he recalled. “There’ll definitely be cage rust because I haven’t been fighting for two years, but I’ve been training as if I was competing in an MMA fight, so this is not going to be a problem.”
Wee was originally set to compete on “TUF: China” but he felt there was a problem. He was a natural Bantamweight, while the other contestants were walking around at either 170-lbs, or 145-lbs. He knew he had to make a decision then. And he probably made the right call.
“I had to choose an option. Either to be on the show, or to compete on January 4. And I saw both of them as huge opportunities,” Wee admitted. “I’m not a big Bantamweight, nor am I a huge guy. There were only two weight classes on the show which were Welterweight and Featherweight. So I was actually going out of my comfort zone just to take part in the try-outs. And I knew if I joined the cast as a Featherweight, I would be the smallest guy in the house. So I chose to compete on January 4 instead, where I’m able to fight at a weight I’m comfortable at. Either way, I’m just grateful to be in the UFC right now.”
Being signed to the UFC is just the first tick off Wee’s to-do list. The second is to rise to the top, and work towards a shot at a championship strap, which is currently split between two champs in the 135-lbs division: Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao. But before Wee can set his sights on the upper echelon of the division, he has to deal with fellow promotional newcomer, David Galera (5-0), first.
The Filipino prospect trains out of the famed Team Lakay camp that houses notable alums like Eduard Folayang, Honorio Banario and Kevin Belingon among others. Galera also holds the URCC Bantamweight belt, a championship honor he earned in his previous outing. Suffice to say, Impact MMA stand-out Wee, has his hands full in this one, and he’ll have to be at the top of his game to come away with something from this bout.
“I respect him a lot; as a fighter and as a URCC Bantamweight champion. But I’m not afraid of him. Team Lakay is a good gym, and it’s one of the best gyms in the Philippines, but it doesn’t matter to me if he’s training there,” he said confidently. “I’m training in one of the best camps in Singapore and we’ve produced champions as well. For this fight, I’ve brought in the best coaches I could find in every different aspect of MMA. My training partners are technically better and stronger, and there are few elements I’ve worked on specifically for this fight. So that gives me confidence in performing well.”
“I’ll admit I’m not a specialist in any aspect of MMA, but the unique thing about me is that I have the ability to mix things up depending on my opponent’s fighting style. We’ve already come up with a good game plan and we’ll work on it right up to January 4.”
“I’ll have to get used to the crowd and everything, though, since it’s a new experience for me. But the fact that I’m fighting in Singapore gives me an advantage over my opponent. He’s stepping into my country to fight me, so I see that as an edge for me.”
The downside to this contest is that we – and here I mean fans, myself included, may not ever get to see Wee or Galera in the octagon again should either of them end up on the losing column. As we’ve seen time and time again, just a single loss and there is a possibility that you could be future endeavored. Getting a few appearances in the world’s premier MMA organization is one thing, but to become a pillar on the roster is entirely different. The 27-year-old, however, isn’t wasting any time pondering on if’s', but’s’ and maybe’s’. Although he remains tight-lipped on what’s going to happen after January 4, he’s 100 percent focused on the task set ahead of him.
“I can’t foresee the future, and all I want to focus on at this point in time is my fight on January 4. If I get the victory, we’ll just have to see what happens,” he said. “There’ll definitely be problems if I lose in my debut fight, but I’m not thinking of that right now. I still have a month to go and all I care about is what I’m going to do to him. I want to win, and I’m not going to waste my energy thinking about what he’s going to do to me and all that.”
“I am nervous. I’m lying if I were to tell you I’m not scared or nervous. Every fighter goes through this but it is how you transform that fear into positive energy that matters.”
Royston Wee is a goal oriented fighter, and fans can very well see the best out of him as he looks to keep his place among some of the world’s elite fighters. History has been made by Wee for MMA in Singapore, and this is a huge step for the country in combat sports.
UFC Fight Night 34 takes place January 4 at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. The headlining bout of the line-up features two premier Welterweights in Jake Ellenberger, and former Strikeforce champ, Tarec Saffiediene. The likes of Tatsuya Kawajiri, Hacran Dias and a host of new South Korean and Japanese talents are all set to showcase their skills for the first time in the Lion city as well.
Here’s the current line-up:
- Jake Ellenberger vs. Tarec Saffiedine
- Hacran Dias vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri
- Kiichi Kunimoto vs. Hyun Gyu Lim
- Kyung Ho Kang vs. Shunichi Shimizu
- Katsunori Kikuno vs. Quinn Mulhern
- Will Chope vs. Max Holloway
- Dustin Kimura vs. Jon delos Reyes
- David Galera vs. Royston Wee
*Pictures credit: Sigmund Seah