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Canadian ONE heavyweight Paul Cheng ready to impress in Asia

Former 2002 6th-round CFL draft pick Paul Cheng is travelling the long road of transition from professional football to mixed martial arts.

He fell in love with football as a child, but it was tough bouncing from team to team.Enter a Tim Sylvia-Andre Arlovski UFC title fight that generated the same kinds of passion, and Cheng was on his way.

With some help from his friends – in particular Burnaby, B.C. gym Clinch MMA and Canadian MMA star Denis Kang – the results have been encouraging.  Sporting a 3-1 pro record, the 34-year-old Port Coquitlam B.C. heavyweight signed a six-fight deal with the biggest MMA organization in Asia, ONE Championship.

Cheng recently answered some questions via email from MMA Crossfire Expert Cassie Wiseman.

Welcome back to The Crossfire.

MMA Crossfire


Paul Cheng
[PNG Merlin Archive]

MMA Crossfire: While still being new to MMA when it comes to a profession, what tricks have you learned about cutting weight and remaining strong while losing weight?

Paul Cheng: I fight at heavyweight. I don’t cut weight. Eating healthy and a good strength and conditioning program helps me stay strong.

MMA Crossfire: How is your football background a benefit to MMA?

Paul Cheng:  Athleticism requires in football such as leverage, explosion, speed and power translate well in MMA. Mentally, football requires the athlete to stay with the gameplan i.e. playbook, the same goes in MMA. Listening to your coach and staying with the gameplan during battle.

MMA Crossfire: What was the most discouraging thing about you CFL career? What life lessons did you learn through your CFL experience that motivates you in your day-to-day life now?

Paul Cheng: Criticism, but growing more mature as a athlete has allowed me to look past criticism and see positives rather than negative to make myself a better athlete. I’m in control of my own destiny through the work I put in, the more prepared I am, the better chance I have to succeed.

Paul Cheng
Paul Cheng. (Bill Keay / Vancouver Sun)

MMA Crossfire: From your perspective, what does ONE FC offer that other MMA organizations don’t?

Paul Cheng: ONE FC is the premier MMA organization In Asia, they are making waves in MMA felt, even in Canada . Shows are very well run. I’m looking forward to fight in front of thousands of people in my homeland Taiwan or China in the near future!

MMA Crossfire: When preparing for fighters in ONE FC that have more experience, even UFC experience, how do you motivate yourself?

Paul Cheng: I believe I can compete at this level even though I’m young in my MMA career. Throughout my athletic experiences in pro football, boxing, wrestling, bobsled, etc. I’ve trained and competed against some of the best athletes in the world. I’m a fast learner and looking forward to proving myself in the ONE FC cage.

MMA Crossfire: With your football career you were moving around a lot, but how does that differ with fighting and preparing for fights?

Paul Cheng: Playing on the line in football is like a fight for about 10 seconds. Footwork and handfighting is similar to fighting but the cardio requirements is much different. Football is short burst at full speed with rest, but MMA is five minutes of continuous work before rest. The cardio conditioning and the bottom game of my back in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) has been the biggest changes from football to MMA.

Paul Cheng
Former Calgary Stampeder defensive lineman Paul Cheng, left, got a little advice from fellow defensive lineman Tyrone Rodgers during practice. Photo by Colleen Kidd/Calgary Herald

MMA Crossfire: With training, where do you usually go to improve your weak area(s) in regards to training camp(s)?

Paul Cheng: My weakest point is probably my bottom game In BJJ, but I have worked hard to improve my game off my back. I train at Clinch MMA in Burnaby, B.C. and occasionally visit TriStar gym in Montreal to visit my friend Denis Kang to improve my overall game.

MMA Crossfire: What is something unexpected that you have experienced after looking at MMA as your career?

Paul Cheng: I didn’t expect this level of publicity. Just with announcement of my signing with ONE FC has brought so much media attention. I’m excited to show the the ONE FC audience that the typhoon is here to stay. Looking forward on getting to work in the ONE FC circle in front thousands of people.


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