ONE athlete Ev “E.T” Ting has has experienced his fair share of highs and lows in his quest for a lightweight world title.
The New Zealander of Malaysian heritage has been on the brink of capturing the belt on two occasions in the past two years, most notably with his razor-close decision loss to then-champion Eduard Folayang in 2017.
Ting bounced back emphatically to record three consecutive wins and move immediately back into the title picture, only to succumb to grappling wizard Shinya Aoki via first-round submission in a title eliminator in Bangkok last October.
But the Kiwi was far from discouraged by the loss, preferring to remain philosophical as he eyes a shot at redemption.
“I was still dry. He got that first takedown and that was it,” Ting recalls. “One mistake – the second I stopped moving that was when he got me. It was a big lesson learned. He’s a legend and has done that to everybody so I’m not too setback from that, it’s just about getting back on the bike.
“It was a wake up call that there’s a another level to the ground and to the division. But in saying that I’m still fresh and I’m still ready to compete with any lightweights.”
Now the 29-year-old finds himself with a golden opportunity to stake another claim for championship glory in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix, which resumes at ONE: Call to Greatness in Singapore on February 22.
“I’ve been putting in the work. I missed out on all the Christmas and New Years celebrations but I’m glad we got through it and I’m healthy and ready to go.”
Ting now has his sights firmly set on the upcoming eight-man tournament, the winner of which will be crowned Grand Prix champion and earn the right to become the first challenger to the current lightweight titleholder.
“The Grand Prix has got me blinded to a lot of things. This would be my third bid for the title – my record is always three or four wins, one loss. Three or four wins, one loss etc. So this has my full focus now.
“There’s a new belt on the line for this – there’s nothing I’d like more than that and I feel like I’m in a good position to get it. If I unleash and show my skills on fight night then I should be alright.”
Victory over Dagestan’s Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev would be the first step towards a rematch with either Folayang or Aoki, pending the outcome of their World Championship clash at ONE: A New Era in Japan next month.
However, Ting isn’t looking that far ahead just yet.
“‘Dagi’ and the Grand Prix have my complete focus, but if we ran it back I’d be more than excited.”