It's always exciting when a world class striker decides to make the transition to MMA and the only question is whether they will be sufficiently well rounded to survive in a different discipline of fighting. Adam Kayoom has been thriving at multiple martial arts for over a decade, he is a Taekwondo national champion, a two time Muay Thai world champion and a Muay Khmer champion.
With such a diverse range of titles in stand up fighting you might expect Kayoom to be much more comfortable fighting on his feet but he has a BJJ pedigree which is equally impressive with a black belt as well as gold medals from major national tournaments in both Australia and Brazil. There's no point trying to take the Malaysian outside of his comfort zone because he is comfortable everywhere as Seok Mo Kim discovered to his cost at DARE Championship in Bangkok this weekend.
The Korean gave a good account of himself against Gregor Gracie at One Fighting Championship 1, losing a decision but frustrating the Brazilian who was unable to submit him despite repeated attempts. He was looking to get back on the winning track against Kayoom who despite having too many titles, medals and trophies to list was only 1-1 in MMA going into this fight.
Kayoom is a BJJ teacher at the Q23 Academy and the founder of American Top Team (Thailand) and the sold out crowd in his adopted home of Bangkok included many of his students. He put on a performance which will not only have sent them all home happy but will have welterweights all over the region looking nervously over their shoulders.
Gracie couldn't submit Seok in 15 minutes but it took Kayoom less than five to sink in a fight finishing rear naked choke. It was a perfect demonstration of what a fighter who brings both ground fighting ability and stand up skills into the cage can do as the Kuala Lumpur born south paw dropped his opponent with a straight left hand which landed with laser like accuracy before finishing him with the submission.
He is extremely well known in Thailand and was ranked in the top ten at Ratchadamnern Stadium, something which very few foreigners in the world of Muay Thaihave ever achieved. He also has a large following in his native Malaysia and is a familiar face in martial arts circles in Australia having spent much of his adult life there.
However Kayoom, who started learning martial arts because he had attention deficit disorder as a child, has yet to really make his mark on the MMA world. That is an issue he is looking to urgently address and he hopes the win over Soek will be the first of many in the coming months,
"I'm going to be fighting more MMA now, I really want to represent Malaysia in One Fighting Championship, that's my dream. It means a lot that Victor Cui was here to watch me fight, I know he has a very busy schedule so respect to him for coming to support the fighters at this event. The kid's tough, I saw him fight Gregor Gracie and he couldnt finish him but today was my day because I got to bang and I got to submit him," he said.
Kayoom had to survive an early scare ater appearing to get caught with a knee and he thinks old Muay Thai habits were to blame for him allowing Seok to steal a bit of his momentum at the beginning of the fight,
"I got him with an elbow early in the fight and I thought 'I am gonna punish this guy' but instead my old Muay Thai habit kicked in and I relaxed. I'm never going to do that again. I have an old training injury, you can't come out of a hard training camp spotless and ready to fight, injuries happen in training all the time and he ended up finding that injury so congratulations on him for that. I had to recuperate and recover but I got back up and bit through the pain and hit him with the straight left," he said
At the age of 33 Kayoom has left it late to mark on the MMA world but having studied and mastered so many different martial arts he has effectively been preparing for this moment for the last two decades. One Fighting Championship are keeping their cards close to their chest and have not announced any additions to their roster since the successful opening show but with a Kuala Lumpur card rumoured to be in the works this Malaysian fighter must be a strong candidate for a contract.
There has never been an MMA promotion with a truly pan Asian appeal but One Fighting Championship has given an incentive to fighters all over the continent to try and compete at the highest level of the sport. Kayoom's latest win was in front of a few hundred fans for DARE Championship, a promotion which is fast making a name for itself in Thailand, and his next could be in front of almost ten thousand if One FC CEO / Owner Victor Cui does decide to sign him.
He will need to work out which weight class he is most comfortable in as he looked considerably smaller that Seok in this 75 kg catchweight fight. A drop down to lightweight might be in order but Kayoom has more than enough ability to make up for anything he might give away in size so there is no reason why he shouldn't stay in the welterweight division.
Stand up fighters are frequently frustrated in MMA by opponents who do everything they can to avoid getting dragged into a striking exchange. With a black belt in BJJ that shouldn't be a concern for Kayoom and Malaysia's top pound for pound fighter has the mixed martial arts world very much at his feet.
Photo by Marcel Braendli. Copyright DARE Championship, www.darefightsport.com