Ekaterina “Barbie” Vandaryeva is ready to put her best foot forward in 2022.
After a bumpy start to her ONE tenure, the Belarusian star will aim for her first victory on the global stage when she meets teenage phenom Supergirl in a strawweight Muay Thai clash at ONE: HEAVY HITTERS this Friday, 14 January.
Despite squaring off against elite competition, “Barbie” feels like she hasn’t yet showcased her true abilities in ONE Super Series.
But with another big opportunity this weekend, she plans to take full advantage of her main card slot and slow the hype train of her young foe at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“I’ve noticed I get very good opponents. It doesn’t matter to me who I face, but this time, it’s a really worthy opponent again,” Vandaryeva says.
“That’s why it’s very, very important for me to show myself at my best. It will be a good start to the year for me. Let’s see, but I think it will be very cool.”
They were tough setbacks for the 30-year-old, but she took important lessons away from them – particularly the majority decision loss against Buntan at “ONE on TNT IV.” It was a closely contested battle until the end, which taught Vandaryeva that she can’t leave anything to chance this time around.
“I shouldn’t stay idle and wait, trying to outsmart [the opponent], but go and do my job,” she says. “Do it clearly in a good tempo because, unfortunately, I haven’t shown myself well.”
That said, the Kick Fighter Gym representative knows that it won’t be a straightforward evening against her aggressive 18-year-old rival.
“She is somewhat unusual because Thai athletes don’t like using their boxing very much. They do it rarely, mostly to distract and land a middle kick, get into the clinch, and so on. But she keeps rushing with her punches endlessly,” Vandaryeva says.
“She is good with her knees, but every action has a counter, and I know what to do to block. She won’t surprise me.”
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Despite expecting to face pressure in the Circle, “Barbie” believes Supergirl’s eagerness to push the pace could work against her.
With that in mind, the veteran plans to use her vast experience and capitalize on openings.
“At her age, you don’t analyze much you just come out and keep hitting. You don’t even think much if you’re tired or not. You go and strike until you’re dead. This is an advantage of being young,” Vandaryeva offers.
“But later, when you grow up, you start analyzing, thinking what’s working, what to do next, and sometimes it does you a favor, especially in sport.
“She has serious weaknesses in her defense, especially when she’s flying forward, and she may miss a lot. When she misses her strikes, her energy will disappear. I need to be smarter and use better techniques.”
For her part, Vandaryeva has a vast array of offensive weapons in her arsenal, and she intends to launch them all at Supergirl once she’s contained the youngster’s spirited attacks.
The Minsk resident is sure this back and forth will produce an all-action encounter that’s guaranteed to please fans across the globe.
“I love to hit very accurately and very harshly, and when I hit the target, I don’t stop – I finish it off,” she says.
“I love various technical aspects like back fists, spinning strikes, and so on. I think it’s very interesting – much more interesting than going and doing the same thing. We work for the audience, so it should be very entertaining to see.”
Entertaining the fans is a big part of “Barbie’s” motivation, but above all, she’s determined to leave the Singapore Indoor Stadium with a crucial win.
She’s already shown glimpses of her class, but an emphatic win is needed for her to move forward in The Home of Martial Arts.
“Of course, I would like to finish with a knockout, but victory is most important,” Vandaryeva adds.
“I know for sure I’m worthy of this victory more than anybody. I know how I long for it, how my loved ones and fans long for it, and I really want to make them – and myself – happy.”