‘I Owe It To Them’ – Gurdarshan Mangat Hoped To Uplift Indians Around The World With Win Over ‘Y2K’
Gurdarshan Mangat had to overcome a lot before entering the Circle last Friday, but powered by his people, he pushed through physical and mental adversity to claim a victory.
The flyweight star defeated Yodkaikaew Fairtex via split decision in an epic battle on the lead card of ONE 158, and he hopes the positive result was able to inspire fellow Indians around the world.
The victory felt especially important amid the collective grief experienced by his compatriots following the death of iconic rapper Sidhu Moose Wala one week earlier.
In the end, the Canadian-born athlete was able to stay focused, absorb “Y2K’s” best shots, and earn his second straight triumph in ONE Championship.
“Of course, it feels amazing. I’ve put a lot of work into these fights, especially because I carry a lot on my shoulders representing my people. And this week was a heavy week for my community. We had the passing of a very influential, idol musician. So all of India has been mourning, all over North America, and all over the world. So I wanted to give them something to celebrate.
“[Yodkaikaew is] a power puncher, man. He has strong punches and strong kicks. But there was no fear in me. I carry a billion people in my heart at all times. I’m my people’s lion, I am their strength. And I owe it to them. I’m not fighting for myself. I’m fighting for them.”
Making the performance even more impressive, Mangat revealed that an injury suffered during training camp could have written him out of Friday’s match altogether.
The 35-year-old broke a rib three weeks ago while preparing for the contest, but he was determined to compete in Singapore and fly the flag for all of those who support him.
Even when Yodkaikaew drilled him with some thudding punches in the final frame, “Saint Lion” stuck with it and fought back to get the win.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it to the fight. One kick or one punch in the wrong spot would have been a really bad situation. And for me to mentally overcome that – still make it to the next couple of weeks of training, make it to the fight, and get the victory – I’m very happy.
“I think there was a cross that he hit me with in the third round. That was probably the hardest I’ve been hit in a long time. But I think I got to takedown right after that. That goes to show, I don’t retreat. I come forward. And that’s just in my DNA. You hit me hard, I’m going to come back twice as hard.”
Gurdarshan Mangat Still Targeting Former ONE World Champion
With back-to-back victories in the flyweight MMA division, Gurdarshan Mangat has climbed even closer to the top-five rankings. Now, he’s eyeing one target in particular: Geje Eustaquio.
Eustaquio is a former ONE Flyweight World Champion who owns notable wins over reigning king Adriano Moraes and #2-ranked Kairat Akhmetov.
He and “Saint Lion” have been scheduled to square off on multiple occasions in the past, and the Canadian-Indian sensation knows he can make a big statement by taking out the Filipino veteran.
“The reason that Geje has been calling me out and I’ve been calling him out is because this fight been scheduled two or three times now. I think it’s an exciting fight other than that.
“And also, I know that he’s beat Adriano and was the champion, so I want to beat the former champion. And I want to do it in a better fashion than what Adriano could do, just so that people know that I’m coming up.”
For Mangat, there’s another reason to pursue a bout with the man nicknamed “Gravity.”
The 35-year-old previously prepared for this matchup alongside a good friend named Kyle Reyes, and after Reyes tragically died last year, the flyweight wants to honor his memory by following through with their goal.
“Saint Lion” added:
“Another thing for me personally is Kyle Reyes, my teammate who passed away. He helped me two to three times back to back getting ready for that fight, but those fights never happened. So for myself, I kind of hold that.
“It’s nothing against my opponent, it’s just something personal I hold in my heart that we prepared, day in and day out, three times a day for almost two years, and now he’s passed away, but I still want to complete it.”