Ev Ting knows he is knocking on the door of a ONE Lightweight World Title shot.
The 28-year-old Malaysian, who has won six of his last seven bouts, is preparing at Bali MMA for his next challenge, and believes a victory in convincing fashion will bring him closer to a title opportunity against ONE Lightweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen.
Since dropping a close decision to previous titleholder Eduard “Landslide” Folayang in April 2017, “E.T.” has marched back to title contention with a pair of impressive performances.
If he can defeat a fellow former world title challenger in Ando and make it three wins in a row, he may secure his second crack at the gold.
Ahead of this pivotal contest in Macau, Ting talks exclusively about the stacked lightweight division, a potential showdown with Nguyen, and much more, in this revealing interview.
ONE Championship: With Shinya Aoki, Eduard Folayang, and Amir Khan returning with big wins, what are your thoughts on the lightweight division right now?
Ev Ting: 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.
ONE: What do you think about Martin Nguyen pursuing world titles in multiple weight classes?
ET: I talked to Martin, and if I was him, I would be doing exactly the same thing. He is only doing what is smart for him.
[I have] 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.
ONE: How do you feel you would match up against Nguyen?
ET: A lot of people have been asking me about it. That fight could sell out anywhere. 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.
ONE: How excited are you to compete in Macau on 23 June?
ET: Macau is good. 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.
ONE: You bring a two-bout win streak into your upcoming match with Koji Ando. If you win, how much closer do you think you would be to a title shot?
ET: I would feel I was right there for at least the interim title, even [now]. But 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.
ONE: After previously challenging for the lightweight world title a year ago, how much have you changed as a mixed martial artist?
ET: With that training camp, I was trying to improve everywhere. During that fight, I was trying to beat [Eduard Folayang] everywhere.
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.
ONE: Do you try to emulate that single-minded purpose Ben takes whenever he competes?
ET: That is the greatest strength about me. 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 – being mentally strong to overcome all circumstances.
Macau | 23 June | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast