Gurdarshan “Saint Lion” Mangat is determined to ignite the hopes and dreams of millions of Indians when he returns to ONE Championship on Friday, 12 July.
The 32-year-old rising star will take on Abro “The Black Komodo” Fernandes at ONE: MASTERS OF DESTINY inside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s Axiata Arena, and an impressive victory would elevate him into the flyweight division’s upper echelon.
India's top mixed martial artist Gurdarshan Gary "Saint Lion" Mangat doesn't settle for average! He takes on surging…
Following an explosive debut against former ONE Bantamweight World Title challenger Toni “Dynamite” Tauru in March, there has been a huge buzz around the man who is considered to be his nation’s pound-for-pound best mixed martial arts athlete.
The 32-year-old believes that highlight-reel win shows he is ready to do great things on the global stage.
“For my first opponent ONE Championship gave me a guy who beat the former [ONE Flyweight] World Champion [Geje Eustaquio],” he explains.
“They gave me to the dogs right away. I jumped in there, attacked the wolf and came out [like a] walk in the park.
“You can throw me into these deep waters, because I’m on a platform where I can finally show who I am, and I can finally carry the [Indian] people.”
Indian hero Gurdarshan Gary "Saint Lion" Mangat lives up to the hype in his ONE debut, knocking out former World Title challenger Toni Tauru at 1:23 of Round 3! ????????Watch the full event on the ONE Super App ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, March 8, 2019
Mangat knows that even more of his countrymen will be watching after his emphatic promotional debut, and he believes that his success will help to inspire his nation’s next generation of martial artists.
Despite the country’s massive population, few of his compatriots have had much international success in the Circle, but they are starting to break through, and “Saint Lion” says his success can be a catalyst for an Indian martial arts explosion.
“For me, the opponent has never mattered — it’s just getting another opportunity to represent myself and represent the spirit of my people,” he adds.
“We’re from a warrior culture. We were always taught to become accountants, doctors, and lawyers, but there’s so much more strength inside of us.
“We’re going to get our first Indian World Champion, and that first Indian World Champion will be me. I think that as soon as one of us goes past that point, then the rest will see what they are capable of.”
“Saint Lion” faces a tough test in Fernandes – an Indonesian bantamweight champion with just one defeat on his record – but he has committed every waking minute and every ounce of his energy into his preparation for this encounter.
Thoughts about the people who look up to him, and how can he set leave a lasting impact on their lives, have kept him going through the hardest training sessions, an now he is ready to deliver another stunning performance and continue his climb up the flyweight ladder.
“I’m in a place where I’m just creating and visualizing and working,” he says.
“I am embracing the pressure, and training every single day so that when I make that walk, I know I’ve done absolutely everything possible to represent my people to the fullest.”
Mangat recognizes the scale of the challenge ahead of him. Six of the “The Black Komodo’s” seven wins have come inside the distance – three knockouts and three submissions – so he knows one false move could be the end of his night.
Fernandes will also be hungry for his first win on the global stage for martial arts, and likes to begin every bout at a high pace, but “Saint Lion’s” training has been geared towards outlasting his rival, and beating him in every area of the match.
“I think he’s a well-rounded fighter – he comes with speed, he comes with power, but the weakness that I see is that he fades quite quickly because he puts everything in from the get-go, and his endurance doesn’t last.
“I’m a much more calculated, much smarter fighter. I can keep a high pace. He goes straight to the wall and then fades off.”
“Everything that he is good at, I’m just better at. This is just another step to create history for my people. They’ve waited for one of their own to be fighting the top guys in the world to give them something to celebrate – this is what [it is] all about.”