The first time Mitch Chilson and Shannon Wiratchai met, the fight ended in such a controversial fashion that the ONE FC rules were immediately changed and the referee involved swiftly replaced. The two featherweights will meet for a second time in Singapore on October 18th and both will be hoping for a more satisfactory outcome.
Their first fight was at ONE FC: "Pride of a Nation" in Manila and Chilson dominated the first round but was caught by a right hook followed by an illegal soccer kick early in the second. He survived, but the referee stepped in to stop the fight as he was working for a takedown.
The result was subsequently changed to a no contest and the ONE FC rules regarding soccer kicks were changed almost immediately, but Chilson prefers to look ahead rather than dwell on the disappointment caused by that premature stoppage.
"Some say the fight was stopped too early and others say Shannon was robbed but I don't really care about what others say, I was not hurt. The ref just stopped the fight too early but I am a completely different fighter, I have improved in every area. The outcome of the last fight is beyond my control so now I am just focused on Oct 18."
Chilson has not lost a fight since being submitted by Eric Kelly at the inaugural ONE FC event in Singapore and his promotional record currently stands at 2-1-0-1. Of the fighters on the featherweight roster, only Kelly has won more bouts competing under the banner of Asia's biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.
The 145-pound division is extremely competitive with Koji Oishi currently holding the belt and both Honorio Banario and Kelly looking for second shots at the title. Chilson's teammate Shinya Aoki also dropped down to featherweight recently but the American is confident that if he keeps winning fights his time will come.
"It's not really my place to say I need this many wins or now is my time. I would like a title shot as soon as possible but I know I'm getting better each time out and when I get my shot I'll be ready."
Chilson's bout with Wiratchai is set for ONE FC: "Total Domination" at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and it will be his fifth time fighting in the country he calls home. The 35 year old is a founding member of the fight team at Evolve MMA and has seen the popularity of the sport transformed over the course of the past few years.
"I was the first Evolve MMA student and an original staff member. I remember being the only member of the fight team along side Chatri (Sityodtong) and I would travel to Thailand to compete in Muay Thai fights by myself because there were limited competitions in the region, now the fight team is filled with some of the best fighters on the planet."
Evolve MMA has expanded rapidly and now has two locations in Singapore with an additional two under construction and an online academy recently launched but had Chilson, whose overall record is 4-1-0-1, never joined the team, it is unlikely he would have even considered a career as a mixed martial artist.
"I was a manager for a health club and got transferred to Singapore. I heard about Evolve through the owner Chatri Sityodtong and dropped a successful career in personal training and modeling to chase a dream of becoming a professional fighter."
He is preparing for his October 18th bout alongside Aoki who will be fighting at featherweight for the first time while another Evolve MMA 145-pounder, Bruno Pucci, recently made a successful ONE FC debut. With Eddie Ng also on the card in Singapore and Rafael dos Anjos arriving on a recent training trip, there have been no shortage of training partners and Chilson says he is thriving in this environment.
"Not only do I get to work with the great fighters, but I also get to work with the best coaches in the world at Evolve MMA. I am grateful every day that I get to train with these incredible people."
Chilson feels that fighting Wiratchai in Singapore where he is guaranteed the support of the local fans, as well as being able to cut weight from the comfort of his own home, will give him an edge in the rematch and help him claim a third ONE FC win.
If he can overcome the durable Thai, who is coming off a hard-fought decision loss to Bashir Ahmad, then Chilson will be one step closer to title contention and another rematch might beckon. Kelly, who is coming off the first loss of his entire career, is looking to rebound with a win against another contender and "The Dragon" would welcome the opportunity to avenge the sole defeat on his record to date.
"I'll fight whoever ONE FC puts in front of me and if Eric Kelly is in my way on the road to the title then I'll be happy with another rematch. I don't think about future fights. My mind is focused on one individual and that person is Shannon Wiratchai."