Quek Kim Hock had 8,000 Singaporean fans cheering for him when he made his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) debut at ONE Fighting Championship 'War of the Lions.' It was a lot of support but it brought with it a lot of pressure for the 20 year old who was up against a very late replacement in the shape of Japanese American submission specialist Major Overall.
As well as an accomplished opponent who made a successful MMA debut of his own at DARE 1/12 earlier this year Hock also had to deal with the weight of expectation which comes with having a passionate hometown crowd behind you.
When he won the Singapore Indoor Stadium absolutely erupted but had he lost you would probably have been able to hear a pin drop. The victory was particularly well received because Hock had to escape from a leg lock attempt early in the first round which had the crowd holding its collective breath but for the fighter himself it was all in a day's work.
"I can't really remember the leg lock because it all happened in a flash. All I could recall is that he grabbed my leg and I went for the counter instinctively. Of course I was feeling a little nervous as it was my first ever professional fight and there was such a huge crowd but I guess I still enjoyed the attention."
It was a highly entertaining affair because, despite only taking the fight at a week's notice, Overall was aggressive and unpredictable using some unorthodox techniques. Hock had originally been slated to face another fighter until injury forced a last minute change of plans which left a lot of his painstaking preparation redundant.
"When my opponent was changed one week prior to the fight I did face some difficulties trying to adapt and adjust to the difference in styles they both had but I guess my team and coaches at Juggernaut Fight Club did their best to prepare me and to bring the best out of me for the fight. He did some moves that really caught me by surprise with an examples the Tae-Kwan-Do head kick but i guess I managed to handle it successfully and keep my calm."
Hock has a background in both wrestling and boxing but Overall came into the fight with a reputation as being a good grappler. This made the manner of victory particularly satisfactory because he was able to put the BJJ blue belt to sleep with a second round rear naked choke.
"Of course I was happy about that! I only started BJJ and wrestling when Juggernaut Fight Club started about 10 months before the fight and submitting him made me feel that my effort in training Jiu-Jitsu relentlessly wasn't in vain."
ONE FC War Of The Lions: Quek Kim Hock vs Major Overall (via OneFCMMA)
As a Singaporean Hock is perfectly positioned to have witnessed first hand the dramatic development of the sport since ONE Fighting Championship arrived on the scene late last year. Having Asia's biggest and most prestigious MMA promotion on their doorstep has certainly opened people's eyes to the world's fastest growing sport.
"I personally think One FC has definitely had a huge impact because everyone is taking about it. Nowadays more people seems to be interested in MMA and when MMA is mentioned at least people now know that it actually stands for Mixed Martial Arts!"
After originally being slated to face a fellow Singaporean the change of opponent at least guaranteed Hock would have plenty of support but he says that this was not something he was particularly aware of during the actual fight.
"I wouldn't say facing a foreigner helped because when I looked out of the cage I couldn't really see the crowd so i didn't pay much attention, my focus was 100% on my opponent. The crowd and the environment at home in Singapore did definitely helped in boosting me morally and spiritually."
ONE FC won't be back in Hock's hometown until October when the Singapore Indoor Stadium will reportedly be opened up to it's full 12,000 capacity due to the sell out success of the most recent show. However he doesn't want to wait another six months for his second fight and is hoping he will be back in action as soon as possible.
"Of course I want to fight again for ONE FC, it's every fighter in Singapore's dream, and hopefully I will be given the chance to fight for them again soon."