Keanu Subba cannot wait to get back in the cage, and show ONE Championship fans what they have been missing.
It has been almost a year since Subba last competed, though his last performance will not be forgotten in a hurry.
Last August, Subba and Christian “The Warrior” Lee engaged in one of the best bouts of 2017 – a riveting, back-and-forth affair loaded with explosive striking, frantic grappling, and multiple near-finishes at ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS.
During his absence from competition, the 24-year-old spent time developing his strength, conditioning, and martial arts skills to make sure he can deliver a greater performance in his hometown of Kuala Lumpur.
“I learned a lot. Ever since then, I have been reading a lot of books, doing a lot of research, and fixing the things I needed to fix,” he says.
“I will be bigger, stronger, and wiser, for sure. I feel like I have just taken the time to rebuild those foundations properly.”
He will need to be firing on all cylinders to overcome his Chinese opponent, who has been a busy man.
Xie has had eight matches since the Malaysian was last in the ONE cage, including a perfect 3-0 run in the world’s largest martial arts organization. Those efforts have marked him as one of the most talented young featherweights on its roster.
The 26-year-old will be a stiff test, but Subba is confident about being able to impose his skills.
“He’s got experience, he’s fought tough guys, but he’s primarily a grappler,” he says.
“I just want to go out there and take him down, grapple, and strike. In my last fight, I didn’t shoot for any takedowns. I need to find my groove in there.”
Subba wants to use this bout as an opportunity to make a statement – both to the fans and the other combatants in the weight class.
The MIMMA Featherweight Champion believes he needs to make up for lost time, and pick up where he left off when he last put on a show.
“I definitely need to win this and prove a point. I need to validate myself again,” he says.
“Before the Christian Lee fight, if I’d won, I’d be close to the title, but the time away has really played a big impact on my position in ONE.
“A lot of people have forgotten about me. I need to validate myself, not just by winning, but by dominating my fight.”
Now, with a stronger foundation, he is well-equipped to resume his mixed martial arts career, and compete regularly to make a charge towards the top of his division.
“I would like to be as busy as possible. I want to go into the fight and find my groove, and then keep busy with three or four bouts a year,” sais the young Subba.
It has been frustrating for the young featherweight to watch from the sidelines as his contemporaries progressed, but there may have been a silver lining to those 11 months on the outside.
The world will see on Friday if the Malaysian can put everything he has learned into practice, and remind everybody why he should be regarded as one of the elite contenders in the featherweight division.