Adam Kayoom is a number of things; a BJJ black belt, a Muay Thai world champion, a Taekwondo national champion but he is not, and never has been, a welterweight. However when ONE FC offered him a fight with Gregor Gracie in his hometown of Kuala Lumpur he simply could not turn it down, even if the Brazilian refused to move down to meet him,
"I want to fight at a lower weight in future but they wanted me to fight Gregor at 77 kgs and I never turn down a challenge. My last fight was at 73.9 or something like that, there are a lot of good lightweights in ONE FC and that is where I want to be.",
Coincidentally Kayoom and Gracie are both coming off wins against the same opponent, Seok Mo Kim, but the Malaysian was the only one who did it without the aid of the judges, securing a rear naked choke early in the opening round.
In the immediate aftermath of that win, which was at DARE Championship 2/11 last September, Kayoom made a plea to the watching Victor Cui which evidently did not fall on deaf ears,
"I heard Victor was there and I said 'please Victor if you're in the crowd give me a chance to fight for One FC' which was not very cool and I apologized to the owners of Dare, which is a very professional promotion, and said it was in the heat of the moment. I didn't mean any disrespect to the organizers there but it was effective, I got the One FC contract."
He won't however be fighting at his natural weight. Even though he has only ever had three MMA fights Kayoom's credentials are so strong that ONE FC felt he was ready to take on one of the most accomplished welterweights on their roster.
Kayoom has already begun the process of bulking up but he has competed at this weight before and gave a good account of himself against an opponent who was vastly more experienced,
"I made my MMA debut in 2003 and then didn't fight again for a long time because I was focused on Muay Thai but I wanted to do it again to see if I still could. The first fight I took was against Bae Myung Ho the current Legend Welterweight Champion, it was only my second fight and I think it was his 18th fight."
Although a miss match on paper that fight proved to be highly competitive with both fighters enjoying periods of dominance but Kayoom was unable to prevent the Korean from repeatedly taking him down. His ground game and striking might be world class but the first loss of his MMA career exposed a potential hole in his arsenal which he immediately sought to address,
"I realized it was a weakness and after that fight I worked every day with Andrew Leone who is a state wrestling champion from the US and he helped me a lot with that side of my game. Fighting someone with so much more experience than me on my first fight in seven years was like a baptism of fire but I learned a lot from the experience."
ONE FC: Destiny of Warriors is on course to be a sell out which means there could be something in the region of 10,000 fans packed into the Stadium Negara on June 23rd. However Kayoom, who has trained extensively in Brazil, Australia and Thailand, says it is not the first time he has fought in front of such a large audience,
"I have fought in front of a crowd like that once before, in Cambodia, when I fought Eh Phoutong for the second time (see below). Tell you the truth I will not be focusing on the crowd or the pressure or expectation. If you think about it enough it will get to you that's why I only focus on me and I am confident in my skills and I think they are solid."
Eh Phutong vs Adam Shahir Kayoon pt1 (via thoeunny)
Born and raised in Malaysia, Kayoom is based in Bangkok where he teaches BJJ at the Q23 Academy. He has moved to Phuket to prepare for this fight and is training alongside Roger Huerta and Rodrigo Praxedes, who will both be fighting at ONE FC: Destiny of Warriors, as well as Leone who has the final round of the Road FC tournament coming up next weekend,
"Preparations are tough, I'm being pushed every day. It's an interesting match up, his strength is definitely more Jiu Jitsu and my strength is definitely more my striking."
Kayoom's list of titles and belts in various different martial arts is too long to be listed and he has accomplished much but regardless of the outcome on June 23rd he is determined to carry on competing,
"I want to take lots of fights, I just enjoy fighting. One of my biggest role models is Randy Couture, that guy is amazing, and I figure if he can do it when he is in his 40s I have a few years left. There are a lot of good ONE FC lightweights like Ole Laursen and Eduard Folayang, those are some of the best fighters in the region."
Malaysia is learning to love MMA and Kayoom is their brightest talent at present. He has a tough fight coming up at ONE FC: Destiny of Warriors but there is no doubt he has the skills to pull out a surprise victory and if he does the decibel level at the Stadium Negara is going to be deafening.