Amir Khan is not your average mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter. The 20 year old has Tourette's syndrome but anyone who watched his four ONE Championship fights will tell you that it has absolutely no impact on his ability as a fighter. He's also a talented golfer who could have turned pro, but decided he wanted to be the next Anderson Silva rather than the next Tiger Woods.
From hot yoga to endurance swimming, MMA fighters have utilized a variety of unconventional training methods to give themselves an edge inside the cage. Khan takes his inspiration from a more unlikely sporting source.
"Golf taught me to be very focused and to find a way to overcome any difficult situation. In golf there is a saying 'play every hole as a new hole' -- you learn from the mistake and move on. I try to approach an MMA fight with the same mindset."
Khan doesn't have much spare time for golf these days because he has to combine his fight preparation with his duty on national service. Singaporean males are all conscripted, even successful pro fighters, and it means the featherweight has a hectic timetable as he prepares to face Jimmy Yabo at ONE: "Pride of Lions."
"I have to compromise and figure out a way to combine training with NS. Luckily, Evolve is open from 6am to 10pm and the instructors are always there, so I can train before and after work. I try to do 12 sessions a week."
Khan's opponent on Friday (Nov. 13) is a third degree Taekwondo black belt and he says he has been brushing up on his striking skills as he prepares to face the Filipino.
"I don't know much about Jimmy except that he is good with striking but I feel I'm better than him everywhere. I’ve been working alongside Yodsanan Sityodtong who is a boxing world champion to counter Jimmy’s skill set and I will be looking to impose my game plan on him and put on a good show for the crowd in Singapore."
His last fight provided plenty in terms of entertainment, but not the outcome Khan would have wanted. He dropped a split decision to Shannon Wiratchai and says he learned a valuable lesson that night.
"I felt like I won the fight but in future, I aim to finish all my opponents and not leave it up to the judges. I respect the judges decision and will move on and try to learn from my mistakes."
Khan might be coming in to Evolve MMA at unconventional times, but he says he is still getting the right quality of training.
"I have been working on my Muay Thai with Peneak Sitnumnoi who was 'fighter of the year' in Thailand a few years ago and on my ground game with Bruno Pucci who's a No-Gi grappling world champion. I've been sparring and rolling with Benedict Ang and Mark Striegl and I've also been picking up lots of tricks from Ben Askren and Shinya Aoki."
After suffering a split decision loss at the hands of Shannon Wiratchai in his last fight Khan will want to get back to winning ways at ONE: "Pride of Lions" and, like any good golfer, he will be putting that recent disappointment to the back of his mind and starting all over again against Yabo.