By Tenzin Dharpo
Pema Dorjee during his official weigh-in prior to his UFC debut in Beijing on November 22, 2018. Photo by Emmanuel Wong_Getty Images
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 26: The biggest Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotion in the world, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has signed the first ever Tibetan fighter Sonam Dhargye who debuted at the Fight Night 141 in Beijing on Sunday.
Dhargye, nicknamed “the Tibetan eagle” is a bantam-weight contender who stepped in on short notice to fight the American Louise Smolka at the Cadillac Arena in the UFC Beijing event but lost the bout in the second round via submission with an arm-bar.
The Tibetan fighter who is stylistically a striker and finishes opponents had the better of his opponent on the total strikes as well as significant strikes landed, during the fight. However, he was out grappled by Smolka who averted two submission attempts by Dhargye and eventually made him tap with a submission.
The 22-year-old has made his presence in the Chinese MMA circuits and has an impressive 12-3-0 fighting record in his MMA career so far. He is ranked 9th among 195 active pro-bantamweights in China and 6th in the flyweight division where he competed earlier.
Last week during the UFC Beijing media day, Dhargye told Asia MMA, “I’m really happy to be here to fight for the UFC. I’m also the first fighter from Tibet so I’m proud and very excited. I only signed with the UFC two weeks ago. It’s a little bit rushed, but I’m enjoying every moment of it.”
“All of the Tibetans from the region watch my fights and support me. My cause is that I want to bring honour for my people, team and the country! I’m thankful to Mr. Enbo, Jalil Alizhanov, MTK and most importantly the UFC for this opportunity. I will make everyone proud!”, he added.
The young Tibetan fighter hails from the Amdo region in Ngaba County, Sichuan Province in occupied Tibet.
Pema flanked by former UFC light-heavy weight Champion Jon Jones and former Strike Force and K-1 Champion Alaister Overeem. Photo- fb
A local Tibetan business man in Dharamshala Tenzin Deden, who is a MMA enthusiast and follows the UFC closely told Phayul, “UFC is the highest level of competition for the MMA fighters and a Tibetan blood to reach that level of competition is a proud moment for every Tibetan MMA enthusiasts.”
Also adding that, “It's sad that he is representing China however we are proud that he was able to over shadow many of the 1.4 billion Chinese,” in securing a coveted UFC contract and high rankings in the Chinese MMA fighting circuits.