Kiwi-Malaysian lightweight star Ev “ET” Ting stands just one win away from earning a second shot at the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
To get to the mountaintop, he has to defeat one of the legends of Asian mixed martial arts.
Ting faces off against former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya Aoki at ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES in Bangkok, Thailand on 6 October. And the charging contender says he’s honoured to face the Japanese icon.
“I would have loved for this fight to have been the one for the title, but that’s not the case,” the 29-year-old Malaysian admits.
“I’m still honoured to take on a true legend, and in many ways, this is a bigger fight for me, so I’m super excited. I’m putting in the work, and I’m building up my body to peak on fight night again. Shinya’s credentials and his name speak for themselves.”
Aoki is renowned worldwide as one of the best exponents of the grappling arts in mixed martial arts today. The Japanese veteran has defeated a host of World Champions, top contenders and big-name opponents from across the world.
Armed with black belts in judo and jiu-jitsu, Aoki’s ground game is one of the best in the sport. The 35-year-old demonstrated that in his wins over Rasul Yakhyaev (by submission) and Shannon Wiratchai (via ground and pound TKO) earlier this year.
Despite his opponent’s illustrious career and well-respected credentials, Ting says he’s ready to stand up to the challenge and come through victorious.
“There’s no secret he is going to work his grappling, and I’m going to defend it,” the Malaysian explains.
“If it does go to the ground, I’m training very smartly to embrace the chaos, and hopefully take him to deeper waters than he’s been to on the ground.
“If I was to face him in a grappling match right now, I would put my whole bank account on the line, because that’s how confident I am in my training, my team, my coaches, and all the work that I’ve put into this training camp. I have nothing to fear from Shinya.”
Ting has been sharpening his skills in training at Auckland MMA in New Zealand, and his belief in sticking to the fundamentals of the sport has helped him to victory in each of his last three bouts as he has surged into title contention.
“I just went back to the basics,” he explains.
“I was working on my footwork, my timing, and just being able to beat opponents in a game of chess rather than being that beast-mode fighter everybody loves.
“I’ve tried to be that. I’ve tried to be an exciting fighter, but sometimes it’s just better to be calculated and smart, and take care of the task at hand.”
Training and competing with a clear head and a sound approach, Ting believes he has the ability to defeat Aoki.
He stated that belief on social media, and explains his proclamation was not meant to be disrespectful – it was more of a statement of his confidence ahead of the bout.
“Some people thought I was being disrespectful, but it was just a way to express that I’m in a position in the lightweight division where I’m almost a gatekeeper,” he says.
“I’m facing all these veterans in the game, but I’m not getting any of the shiny things to show for it. I’m just going to try to express myself a little bit more.”