Bellator Fighting Championships continued to solidify its featherweight division today with the announcement that Bao Quach will compete in the promotion’s Season 2 tournament.
The 30-year-old Californian is in the midst of a prolonged power surge, with wins in 11 of his last 12 fights. Four of those fights came via KO or TKO in during Round 1.
Accordingly, Quach is regarded as one of MMA’s top strikers — a reputation that he has continued to build by training under world-class martial arts coach Colin Oyama, who has also schooled the likes of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Tito Ortiz.
“During the last three years, Bao has established himself as a fighter with devastating world-class striking abilities. The level of his striking and kickboxing is at the highest level in MMA,” said Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “With Bao, Georgi, Pitbull and Will, 145 should be a spectacular tournament.”
Quach is the fourth fighter to join Bellator’s upcoming eight-man 145 lbs. tournament along with 12-1-1 Russian-born Georgi “Insane” Karakhanyan, 5-0 Canadian fighting prodigy William Romero and 12-0 Brazilian star Patricio Pitbull. Bellator will also conduct tournaments at 155, 170 and 185 lbs. with the winners of this year’s tournaments being declared No. 1 contenders to Bellator’s current roster of champions.
Quach—whose parents were both born in Vietnam and now are successful physicians in the U.S.—first took an interest in MMA in his early 20s after graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Cal-State Fullerton. He has gone on to fight in a number of top promotions including Strikeforce, the WEC, Affliction and EliteXC.
His first five years as a professional produced what he admits were “uneven results.” He hit a turning point, though, in February 2006 with a hard-fought draw versus top-ranked Japanese featherweight Hatsu Hioki.
“Nobody thought I had a chance in that fight and, even though it was a draw, I know that I beat him,” Quach said. “At that point, I said to myself, “I don’t want to do this half-way anymore.” I realized that I really had the potential to do something in this sport. So I really changed my lifestyle and just dedicated myself to my career and nothing else.”
He has now won 11 of his last 12 fights, bringing his overall career record to 17-9-1.
“In some ways, Bao’s career path reminds me of Toby Imada’s” Rebney said. “Once he really started to take the sport seriously, the results began to speak for themselves. If he maintains this level of focus, he could be very hard to beat at 145.”
Quach said he was drawn to Bellator for a variety of factors, not the least of which is what he called “some unfinished business” with fellow ’45 tournament competitor Karakhanyan. The two were recently slated to square off before a broken hand left Quach sidelined.
“I hope the two of us get the chance to have that fight after all,” Quach said. “More importantly, though, I’m looking for a chance to win a belt. I think that will take my career to the next level.”
While millions around the country will soon have the opportunity to watch his title pursuit on Fox Sports Net, NBC and Telemundo, Quach himself is uncertain whether that TV audience will include his parents.
“My parents, honestly, are not thrilled with the idea that I’m a professional fighter,” he said. “They wanted me, I think, to be a doctor or a lawyer. But that’s OK. This is something I truly love and, sometimes, you have to go your own way and do what’s right for yourself.”