James Yang tests skills against Roel Rosauro at ONE: Revolution on Friday, September 24th. This contest transpires at Singapore Indoor Stadium.
I spoke with Yang ahead of not only his ONE Championship debut but also his pro-MMA debut. Excerpts from our chat are below.
The training ahead of his professional MMA debut
“Just staying tunnel-visioned and just keeping keep everything loose, fluid. Yeah, I’m on track and ready to go.”
The timeline first getting in work at the vaunted AMC Pankration gym
“So I’ve been training martial arts for a long time you know. Most of my life actually. Got to a point where I realized I wanted to continue my evolution and my growth especially in the ground game. That kind of led me to mixed martial arts and to AMC. I was working in like aerospace factories I was doing like UPS package delivery and doing all these jobs.”
“I have the work ethic and everything. But the thing is I was sitting in traffic like four hours every day. I was just like I’m just wasting my day. A big part of my day. I wanted to put that time somewhere else. And I felt like, especially with MMA, going to AMC was the place to do it. I just followed my dream and see if things pan out, and now we’re here. So, things have been going good.”
Martial arts in the family and Amateur MMA
What first sparked the intrigue in martial arts
“Since I was a little kid, it has been always been what I wanted to do. This is all I wanted to do, actually. I don’t know exactly what it was. Something that I was lucky to be left with. I just realized it at a very young age. And you know maybe I’m just a natural fighter too. Every time I’ve ever gotten bullied or like my cousin’s or siblings got picked on, I’d always be the one to stand up and fight. Even if I was outnumbered, got my ass kicked, it didn’t matter. I would still just throw hands. My father practiced self-defense as well, too.
“Maybe that has an influence as well. He always kind of put in like a self-defense mindset of being aware of my surroundings. Also the same time he’s like don’t go out looking for trouble. But if it ever happened you have full authority to protect yourself and all that. I don’t know what single thing did it for me. But I’ve always wanted to be a martial artist. And then once I figured out, once I got into martial arts training, that was it for me. Just tunnel-visioned in and never looked back.”
The amateur MMA experience and the importance of that learning curve for the pro transition
“I mean it’s huge, man. It means everything because that’s the ultimate test. If you can’t pass that, you can’t make it anywhere you know. My coach equates it to like any professional having tests. To become a doctor or lawyer you have certain tests you have to hit, benchmarks you have to hit. So for each fight, that’s what it was like you know. It’s a learning experience.”
James Yang continued, “You go back, you work on whatever deficiencies. Win or lose, you work on whatever you need to do to get better. That’s what I’ve been doing. So just, you go through that experience. The whole training camp itself and not just the fight itself. The whole thing is a process, and it’s a big learning process every time. You just kind of go back with your team and look to improve and get better.”
Amateur belts at 150 as well as 145 lbs and if his ONE Championship future is at Featherweight
“Yeah, absolutely, that is the goal right now. That’s what I’ll be fighting in. It’s kind of nice I don’t have to cut down to 45 anymore. 55 is closer to my walking weight obviously. So I much prefer the way ONE Championship does the weight cuts. Fully hydrated, you’re not sucking out all this fluid out of yourself. Depleting your body of synovial fluid. Which is very difficult to replenish. Even if you IV drip for 24 hours prior to a fight.”
“It’s just not enough time to recover those fluids. That are protecting your brain, your spine, and your joints. And then guys get cracked when they’re depleted with that. That can be really everlasting. I really appreciate the way they do it and how they handle the weight. I think more promotions should adopt that eventually down the line.”
The legendary Matt Hume helming the coaching
“Matt Hume is my head coach. He’s papa coach right there for sure. And of course, DJ’s (Demetrious Johnson) like my big brother. There’s many other teammates and coaches at AMC Kickboxing and Pankration that may or may not be internationally recognized. As far as like coaching or fame or whatever. But their level is there for sure and the knowledge is there. Because they’ve been doing it for very extensive long periods of their life. So I have a solid team around me, people I trust dearly, and we’re all working together to get better, day in and day out.”
— Die-Lynn (@DylanBowker) September 19, 2021
The lineage of Matt Hume and Demetrious Mighty Mouse Johnson interweaving with James Yang
“I mean, ultimately we’ve got a chemistry. If we didn’t work out with each other, then none of this would be here, you know. It just wouldn’t work out at all. It’s like if you see someone, day in, day out, day in, day out. Month after month, year after year it’s like you’re either gonna love them or you’re gonna hate them. That’s the reality of it and just works out that we have really strong chemistry. And we all have the same kind of mindset, keep driving, hard work. I’m just very fortunate to have them in my corner.”
Kicking off the lead card of ONE: Revolution
“Yeah, when the card was announced I was very excited for it and everything. But you know as the fight approaches and gets closer, I always seem to get more cool, calm, and collected. I don’t try to get too involved in all the emotion. Because if you get excited, it’s just another word for fear or for anxiety or whatever that is.”
“It’s just energy. I’ve always been like as it gets closer to the actual fight day, everything kind of zens out. Just kind of go with the flow. I have to say, the card is amazing. As a fan, I can’t wait to see those other fights. Because three title fights and every fight on that card has potential to be fight of night kind of thing. So definitely an amazing card that ONE put together.”
Thoughts on his opponent and if there’s a level of tape study being done
“At first, at the beginning of camp, you’ve got to watch a little bit of video to see tendencies and what he can do. But I don’t dwell on it too much because you watch the video too much you think okay this guy does this, he does that. I mean for all I know he can be training that whole time to work on something else, you know. Or clean up those deficiencies right? Then you get to the fight and he’s totally different or does something totally different.”
James Yang continued, “And it throws you off right? Puts your mind in a loop. So for me, I just worry about what I can do and how I can improve. Listen to my team. And just move forward and be the best version of myself. That’s really all I can really do to prepare for any fight.”
The importance of making his pro-MMA debut with a show as big as ONE Championship
“Feels like all the work I put in over the last decade, or my whole life even, is culminating at this moment. So it means everything. This is what I’ve been dreaming for so long. To be on the cusp now of actually obtaining it, this just means everything to me.”
James Yang said, “Try to be healthy, just keep going. Thank you for having me. I’m just doing my thing. If people can be inspired by this then that’s great. But yeah, tune in on September 24th. It’s going to be an excellent night of fights. I’m gonna try to start it off with a Big Bang. Start off the show with some excitement. I hope Roel (Rosauro) brings it as well. I’m ready to get out there and do my thing.”
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.