After a highlight-reel knockout in his ONE Championship debut, Niu Kang Kang says his sophomore bout on the global stage shows he is always improving as a martial artist.
The rising Chinese star captured his second win in The Home Of Martial Arts with a unanimous decision against former ONE Featherweight World Title challenger Eric “The Natural” Kelly at ONE: LEGENDARY QUEST.
Hometown hero Niu Kang Kang picks up a hard-fought unanimous decision win over Filipino warrior Eric Kelly!: Check local listings for global TV broadcast: Watch on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, June 15, 2019
This match carried extra significance for Niu because he had the chance to perform in front of his hometown fans at the Baoshan Arena in Shanghai, China, and their cheers helped to push him through the contest.
“It felt great to compete in front of Chinese fans! I could feel their passion immediately,” he says.
The 23-year-old came into the match-up on the back off a spectacular head kick KO, but he admits he struggled to repeat that result because he did not feel like he was in peak physical condition.
Niu says he was disappointed that he could not give his supporters an explosive conclusion to the bout, but there were plenty of positives to take from his victory.
He got some valuable ring time in the world’s largest martial arts organization, during which he showed how far his grappling skills have come.
Kelly gave his best performance in years, but his rival had an answer for almost everything he threw in his direction. Every time “The Natural” tried to dictate the contest with a takedown, Niu recovered and moved into a dominant position.
That proved he has evolved from a sanda specialist into a well-rounded athlete.
“Before [this match], I didn’t have too much experience fighting at close quarters for a long time. I also gained a lot experience on the ground,” he says.
“I think [I did well] switching from defense to attack on the ground, but I still feel there is a lot of space for me to improve. I will prepare myself for my next bout.”
Though Niu believes his performance could have been better, his enthusiasm is not tempered.
He may not have spent much time celebrating after he had his hand raised, but only because he was focused on getting back into training at the Dragon Warrior Gym in Shanghai to build his repertoire of skills.
When he returns, he promises that his Chinese fans can expect to see a performance that more resembles his debut on the global stage.
“No matter who I face, I will be prepared!” he adds.
“I didn’t give the best performance this time, but next time I hope will give you a better performance.”