May 3, 2012
What strategic competition featuring marketable personalities, a large TV presence and big money busted onto the mainstream spotlight in the mid-2000s?
Hint: we’re not talking about poker.
We’re talking about Mixed Martial Arts and its most popular vehicle: the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
In the last few years the UFC has skyrocketed in popularity and now rivals sports like boxing and professional wrestling.
Indeed MMA and poker have taken a similar path to widespread popularity. Consider:
Both have dark pasts and have been outright outlawed in some locations
Both have been around for years but didn’t gain mainstream acceptance until 2006.
The value of the UFC and WSOP brands has increased exponentially over the last 10 years.
Both have plenty of so-called “bad boy” personalities
Both are intensely strategic and one bad decision can get you knocked out or busted
Of course one involves getting punched in the face and poker, most of the time, is restricted to blows to your bankroll.
In recent years the two have become even closer as major players on each side have crossed over into the other’s territory.
From the Felt to the Ring: Terrence Chan Takes His Shot
Perhaps no one has taken the transition from poker to MMA more seriously than Terrence Chan.
Chan, a former PokerStars employee, has won over $1 million in live and online tournaments.
A dominant online poker player, Chan won two SCOOP bracelets in a single night and later added a WCOOP title.
For years Chan trained Muay Thai boxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but it wasn’t until last year that he took his first shot at competitive fighting.
“It was fun, almost like a complete new sport yet still familiar,” he said.
It may come as a surprise that someone with Chan’s intellectual slant would be interested in the rough and tumble sport but MMA, as Chan explained, is far more than two guys hitting each other in the face.
“I love that it’s such a complex game,” he said. “It’s very multifaceted. In the standup, the ground and in wrestling, there are so many moves and so many counters.
“And if you’re one-dimensional and only understand one discipline well and the other guy understands the other disciplines better, he can have a big advantage since you put yourself into such bad situations.”
Chan went on to give an example where a wrestler would ignore his other options to attempt a guillotine choke or a Jiu Jitsu fighter might not realize he was vulnerable to strikes in a certain hold.
“The fact you have to take all these strategic decisions into consideration and have to do it really quickly and be physically capable of doing them is a really interesting physical puzzle.”
Terrence Chan back at the 2007 WSOP.
All of Chan’s training culminated with his first MMA fight in Vancouver last summer. Chan won by TKO and said it’s something he will never forget.
“It was a fantastic feeling obviously,” he said. “From the moment the ref pushed me off the guy it was the best day ever.
“And to hear the roar of friends and teammates in the crowd… there is truly nothing quite like it. I didn’t take my handwraps off until dinner because I never wanted the moment to end.”
Chan took his MMA journey one step further this winter when he flew to Phuket, Thailand, to continue his training.
He spoke to us from his bungalow in Phucket in the midst of rigorous Muay Thai, MMA and BJJ training at the Phuket Top Team training school.
Is there a future for Chan in something like the UFC? He’s still unsure.
“I dunno, I’m sometimes delusional enough to think there is,” he laughs.
“I mean it’s hard, I really only have one year of real MMA experience, I’m 31, not that gifted in an athletic sense, and I’ve had a lot of injuries too.
“On the other hand if the UFC were a realistic shot, 125 lbs is a weight I can make and the division is brand-new, so… maybe?
“But in the end if I work hard, and get as far as I can get, then I’ll be happy. The main thing for my career is that I want to have no regrets about what I could or should have done.”
Regardless of what happens to Chan in his bid to become a UFC fighter, he says the experience has changed him in a positive way.
“I mean, for me, it’s been life-changing,” he said. It’s the best thing I ever could have done for myself.
“It’s made me focus on health, fitness and nutrition. It’s made me spiritually a better person and made me mentally tougher.”
Would he recommend it to other poker players?
“I would but at the same time I recognize that getting punched or choked is not for everyone.
“The best thing for life balance is just to find some hobby that you really love and can immerse yourself in fully, and ideally it should be physically active.”
Article Source: Pokerlistings.com