He won Manhunt Singapore 2011 and is a part-time freelance model. Yet, Juan Wen Jie, 30, doesn’t care too much about being a pretty face – or keeping it.
According to a New Paper report, he is now spending all his time on the discipline of mixed martial arts (MMA), sanshou (a Chinese-origin combat sport) and muay thai.
Juan said: “I like getting hit, and hitting people in return.”
On Oct 18, he will take on Malaysian fighter Alex Lim at his ONE FC debut in front of an expected crowd of 10,000 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
His match with Lim is part of a line-up of six fights that night, including the headlining face-off between Brazilian pound-for-pound king Bibiano Fernandes and ONE FC Bantamweight World Champion, Korean fighter Soo Chul Kim.
There are two other Singapore vs Malaysia fights on the cards as well – female Singaporean fighter Sherilyn Lim will take on Malaysian Ann Osman, while Singaporean Stephen Langdown will be up against Malaysia’s Marc Marcellinus.
Juan is more eager than nervous about his ONE FC debut.
After all, the fighter – who has only one loss so far in his 20-fight muay thai, sanshou and MMA career – was meant to get on the ONE FC stage last year but had to bow out due to a whiplash injury sustained while wrestling a guy 10kg heavier than him during training.
During that time, Juan did a few runway shows and continued training others as he’s also a World Muaythai Council-certified instructor who teaches MMA in schools as well as to individual clients at local school Impact Mixed Martial Arts.
But it’ll be a confident man standing in the middle of the ring in two weeks – Juan said he has since recovered from the whiplash and fought in a few smaller events “to shake out my ring rust”.
According to Mr Matt Hume, vice president of operations and matchmaking at ONE FC, Juan was selected because he is “one of the brightest mixed martial artists from Singapore” thanks to his 2-0 record in professional MMA fights. Juan started fighting professionally two years ago.
“He caught the eye of our scouts with his impressive performances in regional competitions,” said Mr Hume.
Although Lim, Juan’s ONE FC opponent, is a veteran, Juan said he doesn’t feel any fear and even told The New Paper nonchalantly: “I’ll knock him out.”
If you’re wondering where that uber-confidence comes from, look no further than Juan’s gruelling morning-to-midnight, six-days-a-week training schedule. He is so dedicated to it that he doesn’t have time for a relationship, he said. His last serious one ended three years ago.
“My ex-girlfriends and most of my dates said they couldn’t take the schedule. Who would like a guy who isn’t by their side, right?” he said.
He said he tried to slowly coax them into his ultra-disciplined lifestyle, introducing the girls he dates to the gym he trains at, but to no avail. Inevitably, when dates don’t call back or girls break up with him, he takes comfort in training.
“One of my seniors told me something, ‘Girls will leave you, but martial arts will never leave you’,” he said with a laugh.
His family and friends, too, have trouble seeing him on a regular basis. His mum, Madam Sandra Lam, 56, who works at one of the casinos here, will sometimes meet him for chicken rice at Boon Tong Kee after his late-night training sessions.
“She’s pretty cool, and very supportive. But sometimes I don’t tell her when I have fights, because I believe when there’s a fight going on, it’s like a war – you don’t bring the children, women or elderly with you. Very chauvinistic, right?” he said with another laugh.
Still, this is a guy who admits to being “married to martial arts”.
Now that he’s entering his 30s though, when will he start thinking about actual wedding vows?
Said Juan: “I’ll just let nature take its course.”
Read the full report on The New Paper.