As a professional fighter, it’s an expectation that a few bumps and bruises will come hand-in-hand with a hard night’s work. Black eyes, bloody noses and broken bones are the norm.

Being beaten to within an inch of your life though? That’s something that nobody can prepare for.

Adrian “The Hunter” Pang hasn’t competed in a mixed martial arts bout since October 2011 when he lost the Legend FC lightweight championship to Jadamba Narantungalag via split decision. In 2012, Pang was the victim of an assault at the hands of security guards and their friends at a popular nightspot in Gold Coast, Australia, which left him unrecognizable and with injuries that nearly ended his career.

“There was a time there where I didn’t think that I would be fighting again, and that is exactly what I was told,” Pang revealed in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “The injury was horrific. I had never been through anything like that in my life. I was really lucky there was no permanent damage.”

Pang (Scott Clark/Sherdog)

At the hands of a group of men who towered him at 6-foot-2 and weighed 130 kilograms (280 pounds), Pang was repeatedly kicked, elbowed, punched and man-handled in a way that could not compare even to the most brutal mismatch in mixed martial arts.

“I had to take a break from fighting while the police investigated the incident. It was frustrating watching it play out though, as they were literally handed information and they did nothing about it. Eventually, we [Pang and his lawyers] decided that if we waited for the police to finish their job, I probably wouldn’t ever fight again.”

Pang’s return to action is the marquee fight on June 29 at Adrenalin: Unleashed in Pang’s backyard of Brisbane. He finds himself up against another one of Australia’s top lightweights, Jai Bradney, who is looking for a return to form coming off a loss at the hands of TUF Smashes alum Ben Wall.

“[Bradney and I] are friends. We aren’t exactly best friends though, and we always said that we’d fight each other if the money was right. The money was right and now we have a fight on our hands,” he said. “It doesn’t matter for me who you are, it’s business in that cage and I know that’s exactly what he thinks as well. Even though we are friends, I will still punch him in the face and then we will hang out afterwards, it’s just the kind of guy he is.”

Going into a fight after such a long layoff, it would be easy to take the simple and safe route in the fight in order to get a win on his record. However, Pang, true to his fighter spirit, has a different vision on how his fight on Saturday night will play out.

“You aren’t going to see a couple of guys clinching for five minutes at a time,” he exclaimed. “This is going to be a fight and a bloody good one at that. The fans will get exactly what they pay for, and I am happy to be fighting Jai in my return. I know that we are going to give it our all.”

Such a long layoff bares the assumption that there is going to be a lot of “rust” that Pang will need to work off in his return to action. His continued coaching and training at one of Australia’s elite gyms, Integrated MMA, has kept him in fight-ready shape physically and more importantly, mentally.

Pang (Scott Clark/Sherdog)

“After my injuries had healed, I pretty much went straight back to training and have been in that gym every night helping the guys prepare for fights and also doing my own training,” he said. “I have been working harder than ever and I feel stronger than what I have ever felt. I know that I have been training smarter and I will fight a smarter fight.”

With so much happening outside of the cage, it was important for Pang to have the continued support of friends and most importantly, his family.

“Melina is the best support that I could have,” he said. “She was there at my worst and I know that was so hard for her. She is so supportive of how much I train and how much time I spend away from our family, and she never complains at all. Ever. I am lucky to have her. She does everything for me with my diet, and she really just understands everything.”

Throughout 2012, Pang went through the fight of his life. It wasn’t for a major championship and it wasn’t even in a professional bout. The fact that he can even step inside the cage after his horrific assault is a testament to his character and just how much he wants to continue to fight another day.

If it was about money, Pang would have called it a day long ago. His love for fighting is one that helped him battle through his injuries and inspired him to continue to train day in and day out. Inside that cage on June 29, a small glimpse of what the mixed martial arts world has missed out on since his last fight in 2011 will be on display, and it only takes one win for the past 18 months of no competitive bouts to be forgotten and for the “Pang Dynasty” to truly begin.

Adrian would like to thank Fairtex and Australian Sports Nutrition along with everybody at Integrated MMA (Dan Higgins, Steve Compton and Tony Green). Follow Pang on Twitter: @adrianpangmma

Top Photo: Adrian Pang (top) delivers an elbow (Scott Clark/Sherdog)

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.