Ev Ting (13-4) took his best shot. Nearly four months ago, the Malaysian stepped into the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, to challenge newly-inaugurated champion and national hero, Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, for the ONE Lightweight World Championship at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY.
The two warriors engaged in a thrilling five-round battle. For 25 minutes, “E.T.” kept moving forward with his relentless attack, but Folayang was masterfully counter striking him and controlling him in the clinch, which was enough to earn a unanimous decision victory.
For Ting, it was bitter disappointment.
“It was very surreal,” the 28-year-old recollects. “I was trying to engage in the bout. I was trying to create some scrambles and initiate some action. Obviously, his game plan was to stay defensive and counter my aggression. So, what I would do differently in future is be more patient, and sit things out rather than force it. But yeah, it was definitely a tough bout.”
After the heartbreaking loss, Ting took a one of the longest breaks of his career — a solid two weeks away from training to get his mind, and body, right.
“E.T.” and his family travelled to Japan for seven days, where they shopped at malls, immersed themselves in Japanese culture, and savored the local cuisine. Then, the lightweight went home to Auckland, New Zealand for a relaxed period of barbecues and wine.
It was during one of those barbecues that Ting reflected on his journey, and took some valuable lessons away from that heartbreaking loss.
“I see it as a blessing in disguise,” he begins. “It changed my whole mindset and attitude towards things. I am training smarter and looking after my health little more, so the blessing is to stay hungry, and keep pursuing what I am good at. I feel only good things are going to happen from here.”
The road back to a lightweight title shot begins on Friday, 18 August, when he meets Nobutatsu Suzuki (11-2-2) at ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS, live from the Stadium Negara in his old stomping grounds of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Suzuki, a kyokushin karate black belt and five-time heavyweight champion in the discipline, has won 10 of his 15 bouts via knockout. However, he is best remembered as the man who claimed the inaugural ONE Welterweight World Championship in March 2014 after defeating Brock Larson via unanimous decision. The 39-year-old Tokyo, Japan resident lost the belt five months later to current kingpin Ben Askren, and has not competed since.
While this forthcoming bout marks Suzuki’s lightweight debut and his career comeback, Ting is not taking him lightly.
“He is a tough guy, and all of his wins are KOs, so he is no joke. I am quite happy to be facing a former champion and testing my skills,” the Malaysian says. “Obviously, he is a striker, so if I wanted to be smart, I would for work the takedown and go for the submission. But, I am a little bit stubborn, so I may stand and trade with him, and see where it goes.”
To train for the bout, Ting is incorporating many of the lessons he learned in his recent title setback into his current training camp. For starters, he is honing in on his strengths.
“Previously, I just wanted to cram in as much training and knowledge,” he admits. “But now, my eyes see it from another perspective. It is just about capitalizing on what you are really good at, and working towards a finish rather than exploring everywhere.”
Also, he is keeping his training camp in one specific region. When he prepared for Folayang, he split his time among a couple of different teams, and did the majority of his work at Bali MMA. This time around, he is keeping it local.
“E.T.” gets an early start to the day. After waking up at 4 in the morning, he heads to Auckland MMA, where he privately trains clients and small groups from 5-7 a.m. Most of that is comprised of holding pads and taking people through specially-designed workouts.
Following those sessions, he will get in some cardio, as well as strength and conditioning. He also works with a specialized coach, who monitors both his heart rate and keeps track of his progress.
At noon, he goes to Tu Kaha Jiu-Jitsu, where he focuses strictly on BJJ and everything related to the ground game. By 6 in the evning, he is back at Auckland MMA, where he focuses on strategy and blends his jiu-jitsu with striking.
“If you are very smartly invested in your camp, and have the same consistent people drilling the same necessary things you need for your bout, then that is just being smart,” Ting explains. “You are looking after your body and making sure it is in its prime condition.”
So while “E.T.” fell short in his title pursuits back in April, the loss has ultimately made him a smarter and wiser competitor. Now, as he puts it, “I really just have a new attitude towards competing.”