The 28-year-old Malaysian went the distance in a world title bout, and it proved to be a good indicator that he was amongst the division’s elite. Still, it did not satiate his appetite, and now he is looking to prove that he deserves to be at the top of the pack in his weight class.
“The lightweight division is stacked, and there are a lot of people lining up,” Ting says.
“Ariel is a game BJJ black belt, and he has competed against pretty much the other half of the division, so facing him would be a great unification, in a way, to show that we are the true contenders, and should be right up there in contention for a title shot.”
Though he was initially disappointed about his failed world title challenge at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY, the man known as “E.T.” can now take a more measured view of the defeat. As is often the case, there are more lessons to be taken from a loss than a victory.
Ting gained valuable experience competing opposite the Filipino hero, as five rounds of championship action have primed him for the long term, and armed him with new tools.
“I am definitely at peace with the loss now. I made some mistakes, and I should have stuck to a basic sequence and focused on that. But it is all part of the journey, and it has made me a better character since then,” the Malaysian explains.
“In some ways, it is a blessing in disguise. It just was not my time, and I feel when it is my time, it will be much more rewarding.”
“E.T.” immediately took the lessons he learned to Auckland MMA in New Zealand, and incorporated them into his preparation for his August 2017 clash against former ONE Welterweight World Champion Nobutatsu Suzuki at ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS.
Japan’s Suzuki lost the welterweight world title to undefeated grappling juggernaut Ben Askren three years prior, and was looking to rejuvenate his career in the lightweight division. But Ting refused to be anyone’s stepping stone.
The Malaysian delivered one of his most exhilarating performances to date, as he decimated Suzuki with strikes to earn a first-round stoppage victory.
“Nobody apart from me and Ben Askren has been able to do that to Suzuki,” Ting offers. “I consider that a good win, and it should put me in a position to face another top contender and further develop my career.”
Ting has been granted his wish. He will meet another well-versed and skilled competitor in Sexton at ONE: QUEST FOR GOLD.
Sexton is a multiple-time BJJ champion who is riding an impressive three-bout win streak, which includes stoppage victories over accomplished martial arts veterans Eddie Ng and Roger Huerta. He is returning to the promotion after a year and a half away from competition, but like Ting, he also has his eyes set on ONE gold.
With reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen currently scheduled to challenge ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes for his third divisional world title, it may be a while before the next challenger for the lightweight world title is named.
“E.T.” is fully aware of this. As it stands, he plans to keep pressing forward and defeat every adversary who stands across from him in spectacular fashion. On 23 February, it continues with Sexton.
“There will be some traffic jams in the division, but absolutely I consider us the top lightweights in the world to be competing for this title shot. It is a big match, and I am sure the fans will be tuning in for this,” Ting says.
“There is a lot of credit there for Sexton, but I feel like I am just that much sharper, and it is my time to take what’s mine.”