Take a walk through any number of the major cities in Thailand and there will be a sea of people making up the busy streets. The combination of tourists and locals will pack shopping outlets, bars and markets. Sitting on a bench in the middle of it all, there might be a middle-aged man taking it all in and watching as the world passes him by. He sits there, watching the last bit of sun for the day as the busy crowd works its way into the vibrant nightlife.

The face looks familiar. The scars from battles of days gone by are evident, and the battered hands and knuckles could tell stories of which a young fight fan could only dream.

How the great will fall.

Life after fighting isn’t a concept that is spoken of frequently enough. With the expansion that the sport of mixed martial arts has experienced over the last five years in particular, it’s something with which a lot of fighters who are nearing a time where they can no longer be competitive are going to have to come to terms. Chatri Sityodtong wants to ensure that all of the athletes who make up the Evolve family have the best opportunity to live comfortably after competing.

“Having come from poverty myself, it’s definitely one of the driving factors to what we want to achieve with the Evolve family,” Sityodtong explained in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “In Thailand, for example, you see a lot of world champion Muay Thai fighters who are left with nothing after their career is over, and they are basically discarded by society. And that is something that really pulled at my heart strings. These world-class fighters are left to go into jobs as taxi drivers because they had nothing else and it’s very hard for them to find something after their career is over.

“Even if a fighter reaches the pinnacle of their sport, we want Evolve to be a vehicle for them to achieve their dreams. I wanted Evolve to be a place where if you are a part of the Evolve family you could achieve everything that you want to achieve. Whether it’s being a professional fighter and wanting to be a world champion, or being a world champion and wanting to continue to share your experiences with other people, it’s all about evolving as a person and a fighter.”

The latest addition to the Evolve family is former Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren. With his arrival, Evolve MMA has continued to show its seriousness in making its Singapore base a truly world-class training facility. Whilst having fighters who are at the top of their field is desirable in order to build a world-class team, there are other factors that Sityodtong looks at when there is a potential addition to the Evolve family.

“For me, the characteristic that is most important is that a person is a good human being. I am proud of the fact that there are so many world champions in different disciplines at Evolve MMA,” Sityodtong said. “Our mission is to go out and change the world for the better, and we have a place where any fighter can come to better themselves. Yes, we are financially successful and all of that, but that wouldn’t mean anything if we weren’t using that to help people be the best that they can be. No matter what part you play in the Evolve family, there is no doubt that we are here to support you and help you better yourself. Whatever discipline a fighter feels weak in, as a fighter, I know that I have a platform to help them out.”

A key part to taking his mission statement all over the globe is the recently launched Evolve University. It boasts the world’s largest digital library of mixed martial arts tutorials, which are accessible for as little as $20 a month.

“I want anyone, anywhere in the world, to be able to learn from world champions 24 hours a day. We have put together some of the very highest quality videos, and we have been working on this for around three years,” Sityodtong revealed. “It’s a very different experience from training at one of our academies, but I know that not everybody has access to high-level training, and some just can’t afford to be spending two or three hundred dollars a month to train. Evolve University gives people in small villages and towns all around the world access to some of the best world-class training that Evolve has to offer.”

There is a lot to be said about the support that Sityodtong offers to those that are part of the Evolve family. With mixed martial arts continuing to evolve and with so many new fighters looking to follow the long and arduous road to success in the sport, at least the fighters who have Sityodtong behind them can be confident in knowing that with whatever lengths of success they reach in their careers, they won’t be sitting back wondering what is to come of the rest of their life.

Chatri would like to thank everyone in the Evolve Family—students, instructors, fighters, world champions and staff—for allowing him to live the life of his dreams and for giving him the opportunity to share his greatest passion with the world. Follow Sityodtong on Twitter: @YODCHATRI

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.