Ekaterina “Barbie” Vandaryeva plans on leaving a lasting impression on fans when she makes her ONE Super Series debut on the biggest show in martial arts history.
Their bout is sandwiched between the ONE Flyweight and Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship finals, and though she will make her debut on the global stage, the 28-year-old is excited to show that she belongs among such elite company.
The Kick Fighter Gym representative has competed around the world for many years and collected multiple World Titles under kickboxing and Muay Thai rules.
Now, the woman from Minsk is excited to show her skills on the most high-profile platform of her career, win a legion of new fans, and collect a victory that could push her toward a ONE Women’s Atomweight Muay Thai World Title challenge.
Ahead of her match-up at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan, Vandaryeva reveals what she expects from her maiden performance in The Home Of Martial Arts.
ONE Championship: How excited are you to share the world martial arts stage with some of the biggest names in sport?
Ekaterina Vandaryeva: I hear it is going to be a stacked card, but to be honest, I am completely clueless about who some of these names are.
I train, I fight, I give it all I have and then I have my other life, which has nothing to do with martial arts. In this other life, I do not watch fights, I do not check who is a new star, who is doing what in mixed martial arts or any other martial art.
But of course, I am excited to fight and excited to go to Japan, but it doesn’t matter who is with me on the card.
ONE: How do you rate your opponent?
EV: She is not a bad fighter, I can see that she is very technical. The best way to deal with someone like her is by using your brain – you need to quickly analyze the situation and keep everything under control.
Of course, I noticed her strong and weak points, but I am in no rush to talk about it. Often, what you find in the ring and what you see before the fight are very different things. Your opponent and the course of the fight can be a complete surprise.
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ONE: How are you getting ready for this fight? Have you got a game plan?
EV: I thoroughly prepare for each fight. I have won many titles and faced many strong opponents in my life, like Joanna Jędrzejczyk, but every opponent is important for me.
What differs is your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Everything else – food, training, sleep – is the same… Well, now I have a baby, so I don’t get much sleep, but that’s a given.
This time, I am not fighting on short notice, my training is good, and I have adequate time to prepare, so I have no complaints.
ONE: What do you think about facing Janet Todd and doing it in Japan, one of the most important countries in history of martial arts in the world – are you nervous at all?
EV: To be honest, most times, it doesn’t matter who my opponent is or where the competition takes place. I am always ready to put on my best show.
Of course, sometimes I do get nervous, because as an athlete I have a responsibility to train, to prepare well, and of course, like everyone else, I want to win.
ONE: What do you think about Muay Thai in small mixed martial arts gloves?
EV: Well, we will be fighting under Muay Thai rules, which is my territory, but these gloves do make a difference.
They are better suited for grabbing your opponent, but at the same time, they cause more damage. The punches will feel a lot harder, I am sure.
ONE: What makes you an exciting addition to the ONE Super Series roster?
EV: Judging by my fights in China and Thailand, people are very positive about my message regarding female fighters.
I try to show the audience that female fighters are women, not freaks. We can be feminine, we can cook, we can have families, we are educated, we have hobbies, but we have an edge – we can fight. Another aspect is my technique and my speed – the fans like how I move.
ONE: How would you describe your style in the ring?
EV: In Belarus, we have a very famous Muay Thai school that teaches us all aspects of fighting.
I am not good just at boxing, kicks, or clinch. I am a complete and versatile fighter, and my strategy depends on my opponent and the gaps in her game.
ONE: What do you want to achieve in ONE?
EV: I know most fighters like to say they want to get the belt, and they are right. The belt means you are the strongest, that you are at the top.
Collecting belts and medals was the ultimate goal at the start of my career, but now getting another medal or a belt is no longer a priority.
What I really want is to showcase the best of my style and give people a great show. I want to show the audience what female fighters can be, and I want them to accept us.
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.