Bokang Masunyane has gold on his mind as he prepares for the biggest fight of his mixed martial arts career on Friday, 22 April.
The #1-ranked strawweight contender will face #2-ranked Jarred Brooks in a World Title eliminator on the main card of ONE: Eersel vs. Sadikovic, and with so much at stake, he expects a tough battle against the surging American.
But while the South African knows Brooks is a threat in all areas, he thinks he can handle whatever comes his way.
“He’s very explosive. He’s got very strong punches, so that’s something I need to be aware of. But also, if I’m just aware of the punches, he’s got takedowns to get things to the ground.
“I believe I am more dynamic because I know how to use my wrestling for striking, and I know how to use my striking for wrestling. I believe that I’ve got more of a well-rounded game than he has. But I take nothing from him. He’s got very strong hands, and he’s got very good takedowns. It’s going to be a very interesting fight. I believe it has got the potential of becoming the Fight of the Night.”
The 5-foot-1 star nicknamed “Little Giant” has pushed his professional MMA record to 8-0 with a pair of dominant wins since joining ONE Championship.
He rag-dolled Ryuto Sawada for three rounds in his promotional debut and then finished former ONE Strawweight World Title challenger Rene Catalan with an explosive head kick KO.
These victories – particularly his first career knockout – have given Masunyane more confidence ahead of the pivotal matchup with “The Monkey God.”
“Every fighter always looks for a finish, and every fighter is prepared to go the distance. It’s just whether I’m going to be able to get that opening. If it’s on the ground, I know my submission game is very strong. If it’s stand-up, the fact that I knocked out one of the best strikers in my division has given me a lot more confidence that I can get a finish also.”
“Either way, I believe I’m going to get the win. Whether it’s a finish, or whether it goes all the way to three rounds, I believe I’m going to come out as the man on top at the end of the day.”
Bokang Masunyane Thinks Hunger Sets Him Apart From Jarred Brooks
Bokang Masunyane will head into his clash with Jarred Brooks knowing that a ONE Strawweight World Title shot likely awaits the winner.
After being orphaned at a young age and finding his place in the world through combat sports, it would be the realization of a lifelong dream to win the gold – and he’s determined that nobody will stand in his way.
The 27-year-old said:
“Jarred has got a good [18-2] record. You can see he’s got more experience. He is a veteran in mixed martial arts. But for me, I believe the fact that I’m still young in the game, and with the hunger and the drive that I have, that’s going to have the biggest effect.
“I’ve never been a professional Mixed Martial Arts World Champion. That’s always been my goal. I believe I’m very close to that goal, and that’s going to give me my drive to push harder.
“In Africa, life is hard. For me to back down in fights is not even an option. If I win, that’s more food on the table for me. I’m going in there with my African power to take that win, and I know it’s going to bring me closer to the title.”
While “Little Giant” can’t become the World Champion until he dethrones Pacio, he feels like this encounter with Brooks will be a crowning moment.
That’s because he believes the top strawweight in the world will emerge on 22 April – and he knows the reigning king will be paying close attention.
“Whether I win, or whether Jarred Brooks wins, the winner is definitely going to become the next World Champion. It’s a no-brainer. We’ve got a full game. Both of us have good wrestling, we’ve got a good stand-up game, and we know how to win the fight. So I believe this is basically a World Championship fight.
“Pacio should be watching very closely. He’s smart enough to know whoever wins that fight is going to be the next guy he’s going to fight. When my hand gets raised, I’m going to be calling out for him.”