Meet Aaron Canarte, The Unbeaten Ecuadorian Who Vows To Make His Country Proud In ONE Debut

Aaron Canarte

Aaron “Tommy Gun” Canarte is now less than two weeks away from his highly anticipated ONE Championship debut, and he plans to make a statement as the first Ecuadorian MMA fighter to compete in the world’s largest martial arts organization.

Undefeated across 10 professional bouts, the featherweight phenom is now set to square off with Akbar “Bakal” Abdullaev at ONE Fight Night 12: Superlek vs. Khalilov on Prime Video, live in U.S. primetime on Friday, July 14.

Ahead of that showdown at the historic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, fans want to know more about the surging star and the path he took to the bright lights of ONE Championship.

Here is Canarte’s journey to the global stage of martial arts.

Finding His Passion

A naturally gifted athlete from an early age, Canarte grew up playing soccer, the most popular sport in Latin America and his home country of Ecuador.

But after high school, he discovered Muay Thai and was instantly enthralled by the thrill of hand-to-hand combat.

He told

“I’ve always liked sports from a young age. I used to play soccer, and once I was 18, I stopped. I started training for fun. I saw an academy in Ecuador that taught Muay Thai, and I went in to start training. I liked the sport very much.”

Before long, the promising young fighter found himself competing in Muay Thai bouts around the country, compiling an amateur record of 5-0.

Thirsty for more combat sports knowledge, Canarte next ventured over to grappling, which ultimately led him to his true calling of mixed martial arts.

He explained:

“I started training jiu-jitsu and implementing all the different martial arts in one. I liked it so much and felt that [MMA] was for me. It was basically my sport. I used to go to school and work, which didn’t give me time to train. I pushed everything aside to dedicate myself 100 percent to the sport.” 

A Strong Support System

“Tommy Gun” made his professional MMA debut when he was 24 years old and quickly rattled off 10 straight victories to establish himself as one of Latin America’s most promising up-and-comers.

That early success proved that he had world-class potential, and he felt confident in dedicating himself to fighting.

Through it all, Canarte says his parents have remained a steady source of support – despite his mother’s early fears about her son participating in such a violent and unforgiving venture:

“My dad has always supported me. So has my mom. My family has always been there to support me. Thank God, they’ve always been supportive of me and my decisions.

“Well, my mom did worry. She said, “Son, how are you going to dedicate yourself to fighting? You’re going to get hit.” It’s always a mother’s worry. But she accepted it, and she supports me.”

With his loving parents behind him and his dreams, the Ecuadorian has felt free to pursue MMA full-time and chase his goal of global fame in a top-tier organization like ONE Championship.

He said:

“I’ve always had the support of my family, which is important for me. I can count on them to support me, even though my mom didn’t like the idea of me taking this sport on as a profession at first. My dad has always told me that he’s happy with what I decide to do with my life.” 

‘I’ve Sacrificed Many Years For This Sport’

Wanting to capitalize on his enormous potential, Canarte left his friends and family in Ecuador to train at the prestigious Entram Gym in Tijuana, Mexico – the home to a number of Latin America’s top mixed martial artists.

For the 26-year-old rising star, leaving the safety and security of home represented a major risk:

“I’ve sacrificed many years for this sport. I left my country, left my family, left my comfort zone, and have started from zero in a different country. I’ve worked to have enough money for food, looked for sponsors, and well, it has been a lot of sacrifices that I’ve made.”

Those sacrifices, though, are starting to pay off in a big way.

Canarte’s big debut in ONE signifies a turning point in his career – proof that his countless hours of work and dedication have given him the opportunity to represent Ecuador on a global stage.

He said:

“I feel so happy that after all those years, I will be able to enjoy the fruits of my labor, and it’s an honor for me more than anything. I feel very happy being in ONE Championship, to be able to represent my country. And more than anything, to make everyone that has supported me from the beginning proud.”

The First Ecuadorian MMA Fighter In ONE

With that said, Canarte admits he is feeling some pressure to represent his country well.

But rather than crumble under those emotions, he’s using them to fuel him to greatness at ONE Fight Night 12 and beyond:

“Is a big responsibility to be the first Ecuadorian [MMA athlete] to sign with ONE, and I want to put my country on top of the world.”

Well aware that the eyes of Latin America will be closely watching his clash with Akbar Abdullaev on July 14, “Tommy Gun” is promising a spectacular performance in his promotional debut.

With that in mind, he sent a parting message to everyone back home:

“Thank you so much for the support. Thank you so much for being there for me. All the support I see from Latin America, from Ecuador, thank you very much.

“I’m going to give it my all. I’m going to represent the flag in the best way possible, and to all my friends and family, keep an eye out for the fight on July 14. You can’t miss it. We’re going to give a great show and represent the flag in the best way possible.” 

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