Adam Kayoom surprised a few people on his ONE FC debut when he survived a torrid first round to dominate Gregor Gracie in front of a passionate crowd in his hometown of Kuala Lumpur. Having been born a stone's throw away from Stadium Negara where that bout took place the victory was particularly sweet for the Malaysian who is now the most recognizable mixed martial artist in the country.
It was only Kayoom's fourth fight whereas Gracie was 6-1 at the time and riding a four fight win streak which he had been widely expected to extend at ONE FC: 'Destiny of Warriors'. The Brazilian started strong but faded towards the end of the fight as his Malaysian opponent seized the initiative with a relentless onslaught which left a lasting impression in the eyes of all three judges.
That was last June and Kayoom has not fought since as he has been taking time off for the birth of his daughter. He will return to action on February 2nd at ONE FC: 'Return of Warriors' and is looking to build on his career defining win over Gracie.
"I enjoyed it very much, it was a great fight and (beating Gracie) was the greatest achievements so far in my MMA career."
Kayoom has black belts in BJJ, Taekwondo and Karate and is a former Muay Thai world champion who was top ten ranked at Rajadamnern Stadium. He has also won numerous BJJ and Taekwondo competitions at both a regional and national level.
His next opponent might not carry quite the same credentials but he is a fellow veteran who is also coming off an impressive win on his ONE FC debut, albeit in a very different manner. Zuli Silawanto's fight with Agus Nanang in Jakarta was a good old fashioned slug fest which lasted less than a minute with both men choosing to stand in the pocket and exchange bombs (see the full fight here).
It was Silawanto's punches which prevailed to give him the sixth win of an MMA career which began back in 2002 and included a 2003 loss to PRIDE veteran Eiji Mitsuoka. Kayoom has seen footage of his next opponent and knows exactly what to expect.
"He is game and aggressive, that is his style and it should make for a very exciting fight."
Both men may be coming off wins but there is no question which who will have the crowd on their side at the 15,000 capacity Stadium Putra on February 2nd as Kayoom has already developed a strong bond with the Malaysian fans.
"it felt really good to get connected to the Malaysian crowd after my fight with Gracie, to have all that support and to feel it from the Malaysia crowd I feel so grateful for it. The support was awesome and of course I'm an Ampang boy (a district on the outskirts of KL)."
Since the win over Gracie there has been a lot of talk about Kayoom potentially moving down to 155 lbs and challenging for the ONE FC lightweight title which is currently held by Kotetsu Boku. He says he definitely wants to fight for the title but does not feel he needs to drop down a division to do it.
"The ONE FC title is very much on my mind but I don't have any plans to drop down in weight. I like fighting at 170 lbs, I feel very comfortable at this weight and I want to be ONE FC's first ever welterweight champion."
Kayoom has competed all over the world and tasted success in tournaments and competitions in Thailand, Australia and Brazil. His career has taken him full circle and he is now back where he started fighting in front of the fans in the city where he was born and raised.
Whereas a couple of years ago the MMA scene in Malaysia was non existent it is now thriving and ONE FC has moved to a much bigger stadium for it's second show there. Kayoom has been a key figure as his win over Gracie gave him instant homegrown hero status and he is happy to have played such a fundamental role in increasing interest in the sport.
"I'm very excited to see the rapid growth of MMA in Malaysia and very happy to be a part of it. ONE FC is the best promotion I have ever fought for, I'm proud to be signed with Asia's biggest MMA promotion and I hope I can give all the Malaysian fans who support me something to cheer about again on February 2nd."