“I fight for passion, not fashion”
These were the words that first caught my attention when I met 20-year-old Singaporean MMA starlet, Syafiq Abdul Samad, better known as Syafiq ‘The Slasher’ (1-0 MMA) in my parts.
I don’t think it’s wrong for any athlete to fight for a handsome paycheck. But this, on certain levels, in my humble opinion, neglects the passion and desire that fighters should have for the combat scene. It’s not wrong to fight in order to put food on the table for your family, however, if you add in that little bit of eagerness and fire, it could bring your fight game to a whole new level.
Syafiq ‘The Slasher’: “I fight for passion, not fashion”
And Syafiq is a man who has that fighting hunger and desire in him. He has been training in Martial Arts since a tender age of 14-years-old, and he loves what he does:
“Basically, I fight because I love it. It’s always been my dream to be a professional Mixed Martial Artist. Most people are training for that glamour, and you can tell that they don’t want to go far. They do it half-heartedly. ” the Singaporean said.
I was curious as to why Syafiq opted to use the nickname ‘The Slasher’. I mean, let’s be honest here, it does sound catchy and intimidating. And this was what the Bedok native had to say:
“Actually Arvind wanted to find a fight name for me, but he didn’t know what to give me,” he said. “He was thinking about a few fight names that weren’t really catchy. Then Arvind remembered about me getting slashed, back when I was 14-years-old. There were a group of Chinese gangsters that attacked me, and a friend of mine fled the scene.”
Arvind Lalwani, of course, is the head honcho of Juggernaut Fight Club, one of Singapore’s top MMA gyms. Syafiq is currently based in that camp, and has had the opportunity to train and work with the likes of former Canadian Muay Thai champion Wesley Jaya, Boxing veteran Razali Rahman, Harold Ko and former one-time Invicta FC competitor, Danielle West:
“Juggernaut Fight Club is good for me. You’ve got Wes who trains me in Muay Thai, then Ali in Boxing, Harold in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & wrestling, and now we’ve got Danielle West who is a professional fighter who teaches MMA, wrestling and No-Gi BJJ as well,” the 20-year-old said. “So by training under them I’ve slowly built myself and I feel prepared for my fights, and I basically incorporate whatever I’ve learnt into my own style. And you have Arvind, who gives me motivation at all times.”
And it wasn’t always the brightest of days for the Singaporean. Choosing a career in combat is tough, and it can be a Jekyll and Hyde ride for all Mixed Martial Artists. At just 20-years-old, ‘The Slasher’ admitted that there were a couple of times where he questioned his ability, but he brushed all doubts aside and decided to pursue on what he loves doing most:
“I’ve asked myself this question many times in my head. Should I stop, or should I continue? Sometimes I feel like giving up, so I just ask myself: If I give up now, how far will I go? Most people just go halfway, but I want to achieve more,” he said. “How did I get past it? Well, I just tell myself to keep on training and going. And if I really do need to take a break, I’ll just rest for 2-3 days and start training again. I keep telling myself to not give up, and just keep going.”
Syafiq is currently enrolled in Republic Polytechnic, where he pursues a diploma in Sports Science. Moreover, with an occasional day job, it’s remarkable as to how this rambunctious striker copes with his studies and training regimens. But ‘The Slasher’ insists he’s got his priorities settled:
“I used to work in a Pizza outlet, as a Pizza maker. I had to quit though, because I needed the time to train for my fights. Now I give Muay Thai pad work, on a part-time basis, to office workers in different places,” he said. “It’s difficult when you have school, trainings, a part-time job and friends, but I’ve learnt to prioritize school and trainings. School comes first, but if I have a fight coming up, I’ll prioritize my trainings more in that period. If there isn’t any fight, then it’s just school, work and training.”
Syafiq has fought in various disciplines of MMA thus far, including Boxing and Muay Thai. He fought Hong Kong-native Donald Tong in his professional MMA debut under the DARE banner over a year ago. Despite his opponent’s grappling prowess and what not, ‘The Slasher’ overcame all odds and submitted his opponent via Triangle Choke in the 3rd stanza:
“Before the fight, I heard I was facing a purple belt called Donald Tong, and I was like ‘Oh, sh*t! He’s a purple belt and I’m just a white belt’. I was also thinking, will I be able to beat him? Or get smashed straight away?” the Juggernaut FC native said. “I knew my Jiu-Jitsu was not as good as his, so I just planned on striking. I wasn’t planning on submissions, but I focused a lot on my takedown defense, wrestling, and Jiu-Jitsu defense. And I knew his game plan was to get me on the ground and submit me. During the fight, I didn’t want to deliver a lot of kicks because in Donald Tong’s previous fight, he fought this Taekwondo guy in Gods FC. He caught a kick, took him down, and submitted him. So I was vary of that. I was just getting ready to sprawl. But he has good Jiu-Jitsu, no doubts, and if it was a just a plain BJJ bout, I would have lost to him.”
Soon after, Syafiq made his professional Boxing debut against veteran MMA journalist James Goyder, and won by TKO in the 1st stanza. The 20-year-old is slated to fight in the Boxing ring once again at the end of March in Dragon Fire Boxing, at Marina Bay Sands, against a yet-to-be named opponent:
“I was supposed to fight this Malaysian guy but he was pulled out of the event. Now I don’t know anything about my new opponent but the promoter said he’s going to get me one so that’s the only news I have right now.” he said. “I’m just training normally and I’m watching my weight, making sure I maintain it. I’m actually starting to cut weight systematically.”
Syafiq was also quick to comment that his future lies in both Boxing and MMA. The Singaporean wants to be active in both disciplines:
“At first, before I was introduced to MMA, I just wanted to compete in Muay Thai and Boxing. But after my first amateur MMA fight, I decided to become a Mixed Martial Artist, and that’s when I started doing more Jiu-Jitsu and everything else,” he said. “Now, I just want to focus in MMA. I want to be known as a Mixed Martial Artist, but if there’s a Muay Thai or Boxing fight, I’ll just compete.”
Syafiq also said that fighting in ONE Fighting Championship, Asia’s largest Mixed Martial Arts promotion, is at the top of his priority list. The 20-year-old insists he has a lot to offer to fans in the MMA community, given his malignant style of approach to fights. Right now, the Juggernaut FC native wants to fight at the upcoming ONE FC 8: Kings & Champions event (which is scheduled to go down on April 5th in Singapore), and believes he merits a spot on the ONE FC roster:
“When you fight in your hometown, in your own country, a lot of people will be supporting you. I want that feeling, to be in an atmosphere where everybody is clapping and shouting for you. It’s the greatest feeling ever. And it’s not about recognition. I want people to know that there’s a local talent in Singapore, not just a foreign talent, that’s really good at fighting,” he pointed out.
“If ONE FC gives me a chance to fight in April, I’ll show that I’m an exciting striker. But of course I want to mix things up, to show that I belong there and that they’ve made the right choice in signing me.”
When prompted for a possible opponent, Syafiq said he doesn’t have any names in his mind and he’ll fight whomever ONE FC puts in front of him. But of course he wants to take it step-by-step, to build and establish himself as a force to be reckoned with in the Asian MMA scene.
At just 20-years-old, Syafiq ‘The Slasher’ is undoubtedly Singapore’s hottest MMA prospect. Known for his striking prowess, the Singaporean has also been working extensively in his ground game, and hopes to one day showcase his skills in front of a packed crowd under the bright lights of ONE Fighting Championship.
A Singaporean fighter is yet to be slated for the upcoming ONE FC 8: Kings & Champions fight card. Syafiq would love nothing more than to fight on April 5th for the Singapore-based promotion, to not only state his claim as the Nation’s best fighter, but to also do his country proud.