The self-proclaimed Shaolin Monk fighter Yi Long is one of the most known fighters in the world. He has gained a large fan base from his Shaolin monk persona and exciting fighting abilities.
- Name: Liu Xingjun
- Nickname: Yi Long
- Gym: Ying Long Ao Yu Fight Club
- Style: Sanda & Muay Thai
- Record: 62-12-1
- Championships: 5x World Muay Thai & Kickboxing Champion
Here’s the backstory on the Shaolin Kung Fu Fighter known as Yi Long. Detailing how Yi created his persona and some of the most memorable moments of his fighting career.
- The Early Life of Yi Long
- How Yi Long Became a Pro Kickboxer
- Yi Long’s Conflict with the Shaolin Temple
- Yi Long’s Rivalry vs. Buakaw
- Yi Long’s Most Memorable Fights
- Yi Long’s Fighting Style
- The Legacy of Yi Long
The Early Life of Yi Long
Liu Xingjun, who would later become known as Yi Long, grew up in the Chinese province of Shandong. Many assume that with his monk persona, Liu grew up in a temple learning Kung Fu.
He was actually scouted by scouts from the local sports university to learn martial arts at the school. The scouts assessed that Xingjun had the potential to become a skilled Sanda kickboxer.
Xingjun would be admitted to the sports university, where he would have a rigorous training schedule. His usual day consisted of three training sessions that lasted two hours each, with rest in between.
This routine of consistent hard training would make Liu quickly develop effective skills. Years of hard work would lead Xingjun to enter the Guangdong Foshan International Wing Chun Championship.
Lui’s dedication would lead to him winning this championship before ending his time training at the sports university.
How Yi Long Became a Pro Kickboxer
After winning the international Wing Chun competition, Liu decided to become a professional kickboxer. While he was preparing to become a pro kickboxer, Xingjun would also continue teaching himself Shaolin Wushu.
Before debuting in 2009, Liu would change his name to Li Yong and don a Shaolin monk persona. The Chinese kickboxing promotion Wu Lin Feng would sign Long to a lucrative contract. This would also be the promotion that Yi would fight for most of his career.
Yi would make his pro kickboxing debut in September 2009. It would be a successful debut win as he won a decision over Wang Zhiliang.
He would spend the first two years of his fighting career fighting in China, earning a record of 13-0. During the beginning of his career, Long would actually two Russian fighters and one Thai fighter.
Yi Long’s Conflict with the Shaolin Temple
While Yi Long has the persona of a Shaolin monk, he was never formally trained at the Shaolin Temple. When Long started to gain popularity, the Shaolin Temple immediately stated they had no association with them.
Yi Long had never trained at the Shaolin Temple, nor was he trained by an expert in Shaolin Kung. Any Shaolin Kung Fu techniques that Long may have done were self-taught.
His core training was in Sanda kickboxing with whatever other striking techniques he was taught at the sports university.
Yi Long’s Rivalry vs. Buakaw
Yi Long is known for his two controversial bouts with Muay Thai legend Buakaw. This fight settled the old question of who would win in a Muay Thai vs. Kung Fu battle. Both bouts have been watched by millions across the world, who still debate the results.
Yi Long vs. Buakaw 1
Their first bout would take place in 2015 for the Wu Lin Feng kickboxing promotion. It was promoted as “the fight of the century” by the promoter, which took place in Jiyuan, China.
Yi Long would have some of the best moments of his career in this bout. He would quickly take the fight to Buakaw with pressure and land a few decent shots.
The Thai would later recover and begin to even the fight. Long hit Buakaw with big shots in the later rounds to get some of the momentum back.
Their fight ended with the two exchanging strikes and the crowd on their feet, cheering both fighters on. The judges would give the decision to Buakaw, which most of the Chinese crowd disputed.
Yi Long vs. Buakaw 2
Since their first fight had a controversial ending, Wu Lin Feng was able to arrange a rematch the following year. Yi Long vs. Buakaw 2 occurred at the Fight of the Century 2 event in Nanjing, China.
This fight would be more one-sided than the first, as Buakaw controlled most of the fight. Everyone saw him as the clear winner, but the Chinese judges gave Long the decision.
Wu Lin Feng was bombarded with criticisms of the judges fixing the fight. This was a sentiment that was held by almost all kickboxing fans, who agreed there was no way Long won.
Since that controversial decision, a third match has never been agreed on and most likely never will be. Fight fans will probably have to live with the bitter taste of how this rivalry ended.
Yi Long’s Most Memorable Fights
Yi Long has had numerous memorable moments in his fight career that have gone viral. Here are the most memorable fights of Long’s career.
Yi Long vs. Brad Riddell
In 2011, Yi would fight City Kickboxing fighter Brad Riddell. This fight is one of the most memorable of Long’s career for one particular moment.
Long would put his hands down during the bout and let Riddell hit him with shots. He would absorb multiple shots before hitting Riddell with a barrage of strikes before the bell.
Nobody remembers that Long lost a controversial decision in this bout. The judges cited that the punches Long absorbed during that fighting spirit moment were counted against him.
Yi Long vs. Hong Man Choi
In 2018, Yi Long would fight in a spectacle of a bout against Korean giant Hong Man Choi. Hong Man is a journeyman fighter who has fought in combat sports for over a decade in big spectacle bouts.
Long would show no fear of Choi’s size and take the fight to him. Evading his lumbering strikes and landing hard strikes of his own.
The fight would abruptly end after Choi absorbed an accidental kick to the groin. Since Choi could not fight after the rest time, Long was declared the winner.
Yi Long vs. Anton Gantavlov
Yi Long is no stranger to fighting out of his weight class. Long would take another bout early in his career against Russian heavyweight Anton Gantavlov.
Anton would bully Long around the ring in the early moments of the fight. Yi would quickly find his feet and begin hitting the Russian with hard leg kicks. Long would win the decision after three rounds of beating the Russian heavyweight’s lead leg.
Yi Long vs. Sudsakom Sor Klinmee
Yi Long would only fight outside of China on a handful of occasions. One of the more notable ones was his fight against Sudsakom Sor Klinmee at Yokkao 9 in 2014.
The champion Thai boxer would get the better of Yi for most of the bout. Outpacing the Shaolin fighter with better conditioning and quicker strikes.
Yi Long’s Fighting Style
Yi claims to be a self-taught Shaolin Wushu/Kung Fu master. While he has the persona of a Shaolin monk, Long has not formally learned Shaolin Kung Fu.
When he went to the sports university as a kid, Yi was enrolled in the Sanda class. Since Sanda is a hybrid martial art, Long would become proficient at various styles of striking, like Muay Thai and kickboxing.
You can see in how Yi fights that he has more of a Sanda/Muay Thai style than Shaolin Kung Fu. But it’s good for the brand, and nobody will argue with him over it.
The Legacy of Yi Long
The Shaolin monk fighter, Yi Long, has built quite a legacy. His fighting skills and monk persona have made him one of the all-time most popular Chinese kickboxers.
Yi has shown no fear and was willing to take on anyone during his memorable fighting career. Years from now, fight fans will still be watching his fights online.
A martial artist and former coach for two decades from Houston, Texas. Specializing in the disciplines of kickboxing, karate, MMA, and Jiu Jitsu.