Koji “The Commander” Ando (12-6-2) believes a victory this weekend could propel him back into the title picture.
On Saturday, 23 June, the former ONE Lightweight World Title challenger is scheduled to clash with Malaysia’s Ev “E.T.” Ting (15-4) at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, live from the Studio City Event Center in Macau.
With six wins in his last seven bouts, Ting promises to be a tough opponent, but the Japanese veteran knows he can steal the Kiwi-Malaysian’s momentum with a win.
“I feel a little bit of pressure, but I am not that concerned about it,” the 33-year-old Tokyo, Japan resident says. “A victory would mean another chance to build on my career as a top contender.”
Ando, a Legend FC Lightweight Champion and third-degree judo black belt, had a thunderous start to his tenure in ONE Championship.
He won two consecutive matches, both via stoppage, to secure a shot at Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki in May 2015. In that challenge for the ONE Lightweight World Title, Ando took the champion the distance, but ultimately lost via unanimous decision.
Since then, “The Commander” has experienced mixed results. He returned with a stunning victory against Roger Huerta in his next bout, but dropped the following two contests.
Most recently, in August 2017, he fell to Russian knockout artist Timofey Nastyukhin by unanimous decision after a back-and-forth battle.
While Ando does not feel like he deserved to come out on the wrong end of the judges’ verdict, he realizes he could have been more active in the three-round affair, and only blames himself for his shortcomings.
“I do not really feel like I lost that one, but I think perhaps I could have gone on the attack a little earlier,” he admits. “I was not able to perform at the level I am capable of.”
Ando believes he has fixed the issue, though. He claims to have “tightened up everything” during his training camp at Never Quit MMA & Fitness Gym, which he opened in September 2016.
In order to beat Ting in their lightweight showdown at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, he will need to keep his game tight, because “E.T.” has looked phenomenal lately.
“E.T.” is coming off a pair of blistering performances, including a first-round knockout of former ONE Welterweight World Champion Nobutatsu Suzuki and a thrilling split-decision win over BJJ black belt Ariel “Tarzan” Sexton.
With those victories, Ting re-entered the title conversation, and believes a “significant and solid finish” against Ando would all but guarantee him a second crack at the belt.
“The Commander,” however, has long been considered one of the toughest competitors in the division, and has never been stopped in his 20-bout career.
While he recognizes the threat from a fellow former ONE Lightweight World Title Challenger, he does not expect to be his stepping stone.
“Ting is very well-rounded. I have to watch out for his kicks and his submissions,” Ando says. “If I am able to perform up to my true abilities, he should present no problems for me.”
Ando may feel a little bit of pressure, but he is ready to prove to the world why he is still a top contender in the lightweight division.