After Switching Camps, Ekaterina Vandaryeva Inspired To Showcase Improvements Against Iman Barlow

Pictures from the ONE Super Series Muay Thai fight between Jackie Buntan Ekaterina Vandaryeva at "ONE on TNT IV"

Ekaterina “Barbie” Vandaryeva has instituted some major changes in order to get her first victory inside the Circle.

This Friday, March 24, the Belarusian veteran returns to action against British superstar Iman Barlow in a strawweight Muay Thai showdown at ONE Fight Night 8 on Prime Video.

Vandaryeva’s last scheduled fight – a highly anticipated rematch with Anna “Supergirl” Jaroonsak – was canceled at the last minute when the Thai athlete stepped up to face Stamp Fairtex.

As a result, “Barbie” missed the opportunity to avenge a razor-thin split decision loss to “Supergirl,” extending her time away from competition to more than one full year.

It was a hard pill to swallow, especially because she’d lost three in a row, but the 32-year-old had recently switched to a new gym and viewed her career with a renewed sense of purpose.

Vandaryeva explained:

“It was an important fight [against “Supergirl]. “I spent seven months preparing for it. Before I decided to take this fight, I had even thought of quitting. However, I changed my mind thanks to my coach, Andrey Gridin, who persuaded me to train with him.

I started thinking, ‘Why not do something I’d never done before? Why not change my training routine completely, give it my all, and then win in a dominant manner?’”

A three-time Muay Thai Champion, Vandaryeva came to ONE with a considerable amount of well-deserved hype. 

However, her unexpected losing streak prompted her to re-evaluate her training regimen and change things up. 

By moving her camp to Gridin Gym – home to ONE Light Heavyweight Kickboxing World Champion Roman Kryklia – the Belarusian then forced herself out of her comfort zone:

“There is a tradition to train in the same club for our entire career, but I realized that without a serious training system, I would not grow. I have my own technique, strength, power, and speed, but I need to grow and achieve more. I decided to give it a go and move to the Gridin Gym.

“It was hard – it was a different level, a different workload. I had trained differently for so many years until I was 31, and here I had to break myself over and over again.”

Ekaterina Vandaryeva Sees Power Advantage Over Iman Barlow

Ekaterina Vandaryeva knows she’ll need to bring her best when she squares off with Iman Barlow this Friday.

After all, the woman known as “Pretty Killer” is arguably the strawweight Muay Thai division’s most feared contender, owning a 96-6 career slate after a dominant run in England’s elite Muay Thai scene.

Given all that success, Vandaryeva isn’t afraid to give Barlow plenty of credit:

“My opponent is the most experienced of us all on the roster. Her record is unreal. England has a strong school; there are many tournaments, almost like in Thailand. They are passionate about what they do. It is a promising sport for them – if they become stars in England, and they have great opportunities. She is the most accomplished athlete on the roster.”

Despite offering that praise, the Belarusian is an incredibly skilled and dangerous striker in her own right. Tall and with an impressive reach for the strawweight Muay Thai division, Vandaryeva possesses uncanny power in her fists.

She expects to lean on that firepower against Barlow, hoping to finally meet the lofty expectations that came with her to ONE Championship:

“I will rely on my punching power. My opponents are all fast and agile until I hit them. I have the power. My opponent will try to overpower me with kicks, but I hope I am fast and smart enough to handle it.”

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