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Ev Ting: Determination will take me to the top

Malaysian star says his sheer force of will can take him to ONE Championship glory

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Ev Ting is riding an excellent wave of form and believes he’s within striking distance of a shot at the ONE Lightweight World Title.

The 28-year-old Malaysian is preparing to face Japanese veteran Koji “The Commander” Ando at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER in Macau on Saturday, 23 June.

And “E.T.” believes an impressive display against Ando could be the final piece of the jigsaw as he bids to earn a shot at ONE Championship gold.

Speaking about the ONE lightweight class, Ting stated: “It is easily the most stacked division.

”Featherweight is also stacked. I probably have the most wins in featherweight and lightweight out of the whole roster.

“But in the lightweight division, there are definitely a few contenders. There is Timofey Nastyukhin, there are a few guys, and obviously, there is a traffic jam with the champion fighting in three different divisions.

“Lightweight is definitely a division to watch, and it is creating a lot of attention, that is for sure.”

The division is currently ruled by two-weight world champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen, and Ting admits he’s an admirer of how the Australian-Vietnamese world champion has handled his position so far.

“I talked to Martin, and if I was him, I would be doing exactly the same thing,” he admitted.

“He is only doing what is smart for him.

“Nothing against Martin. He is doing everything right, but he has to either defend or vacate [the lightweight world title] eventually.

“I will get my shot regardless. I will knock [the other contenders] down one by one until I get it. It is just a matter of time.”

The potential matchup between Ting and Nguyen is one that “E.T.” admits he’s often been asked about, and he believes it could produce an exciting, sell-out attraction if staged in the right location.

“That fight could sell out anywhere,” he said.

“It could sell out in Kuala Lumpur, it could sell out in Vietnam, and it could even sell out in Australia.

“I feel like it is a recipe for fireworks, that is for sure.

“We are definitely not going to be dancing around each other, and we are not going to hug each other to death or anything. We are definitely going to try to put on a show for everybody.

“If ONE wants an exciting match-up, this is the one to make, but obviously, there are different interests in play. We just have to wait, at the moment.”

But before any thoughts turn to a fight with Nguyen, Ting knows he has to dispense with the challenge of Ando in Macau, which will offer familiar surroundings. having competed there before.

It’s a challenge he’s clearly relishing, as he lines up against a seasoned veteran of the sport with the potential prize of a title shot almost within reach.

“Macau is good,” he said.

“The first time I ever fought overseas was in Macau, so I have some history in Macau. It was also in a ring that time. It is going back in time, in a way. I am excited.

“When they offered me Koji, I was not going to turn that down. Koji is no joke either. He is a [Legend FC Lightweight] champion, he has never been finished, and his stand-up and judo are on point.

“People are going to see him as somebody who just came off a loss, but he is definitely no chump. He is definitely very dangerous.

“If I can get a solid finish, I would feel that I am right there for the title shot. I am not the matchmaker, but a lot of people would vouch that I am deserving of a title shot.”

That title shot, if it comes, will be the second of Ting’s mixed martial arts career, with his prior tilt at ONE Championship gold coming in an unsuccessful bout against Eduard “Landslide” Folayang a year ago.

Ting says he’s learned to tailor his training to suit his opponent, rather than simply improve in all areas.

It’s that lack of specific pre-bout training that he believes saw him fall short in his first title attempt.

“With that training camp, I was trying to improve everywhere. During that fight, I was trying to beat [Eduard Folayang] everywhere,” he said.

“I was trying to improve every aspect of my game, which is the right mindset, but at the end of the day, it is always better to tailor your game plan towards your opponent and having a set sequence to master, rather than trying to be good everywhere. [To be] more specific in a way – more focused.

“A good example would be Ben Askren or Shinya Aoki. You could say they are one-dimensional, but they execute their sequences so well that, time and time again, they are getting their wins.

“Ben Askren is the man. He deserves to fight the best, and he is the best. He has proven what is the most efficient way to fight – to finish the fight without getting hurt. That is what martial arts is all about – protecting yourself and not getting hurt.”

Inspired by the likes of Askren and Aoki, Ting looks to elevate himself to new heights as he seeks the ONE Lightweight World Title.

And he says he shares Askren’s single-minded drive and determination, and says that while he may not necessarily have one outstanding weapon, or a chiselled physique, he has the strength of mind, and all-round skillset, to take himself all the way to the top of the sport.

“That is the greatest strength about me,” he said.

“People will say I am pretty average everywhere, and I do not even have [six-pack] abs. But once they get that mindset, they get beat.

“Maybe that is my strength, in a way – I give people false hope, and that is when I capitalise.”

Interview by ONE Championship. Story by Simon Head.

Freelance sports writer and MMA reporter with 19 years’ experience in the UK national media. News Editor: ONE Championship. UFC/MMA Reporter: BBC Three. International MMA Reporter: The Fight Nation. Contributor: MMAjunkie.

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