From the moment it was announced that ONE Championship was promoting a Grand Prix tournament in its stacked lightweight division, there was no doubt that Ev Ting would be getting an invitation. The Malaysian-Kiwi is as experienced and dangerous as anybody in the division, and the tournament just wouldn’t feel complete if he wasn’t a part of it.
Ting will compete in his first ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix showdown at ONE: Call to Greatness on Friday Night in Singapore (Friday morning in the Western Hemisphere). In this quarterfinal bout, he’ll battle a fighter many consider the tournament dark horse: Turkey’s Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev — more widely known simply as “Dagi.”
Ting has been preparing for this dangerous task for eight, long weeks. He says his training, done primarily under the beating sun and swaying palms at Bali MMA, has been tremendously fruitful.
“I started my camp just before Christmas,” he said. “This Christmas and New Year’s period I was putting in the work. I got eight weeks’ notice. And it’s funny cause the day I got the news was when I just bought my flights to Bali. Everything just worked out perfectly.”
Staying focused at the task at hand has been easy for Ev Ting because he knows how dangerous his upcoming opponent is. A failure to keep his nose to the grindstone could mean a failure to advance to the second round of the Grand Prix.
“He’s very dangerous, very explosive,” Ting said of his rival, who has finished all but one of his victories in the first round. “He’s a black belt in jiu jitsu. He’s got solid wrestling credentials, and so he’s very dangerous, very explosive.”
While Ting is well-aware of Dagi’s skill, he feels that he will possess an advantage in one particularly crucial department: experience. He’s competed in more than three times as many MMA bouts as his Turkish foe.
“He’s only six fights deep in his pro career,” Ting said. “My experience will be the key factor to take him out.
“Taking him to the later rounds, giving him different looks, putting him different scenarios, there are a lot of things that I can implement,” he added. “I’ve fought dangerous guys before. It’s just a matter of me getting in there an executing my gameplan.”
Wherever this fight unfolds, Ting is confident he’s got the tools to give his foe fits.
“I’ve always taken a lot of pride in my striking, so I’d love to test his timing over there,” he said. “I’ve also recently been working hard on my jiu jitsu, and I got my hard-earned purple belt. It’s not a black belt but it still means a lot to me.”
If Ev Ting defeats Dagi in Singapore, he’ll meet the winner of a fight between Ariel Sexton and Amir Khan, which also goes down in Singapore. If he can topple that foe, he’ll advance to the finals, where he will either meet Lowen Tynanes, or the winner of a March 31 showdown between Timofey Nastyukhin and Eddie Alvarez.
That latter name, of course, is of particular interest to Ting. Alvarez is a former titleholder in both the UFC and Bellator, and easily one of the most high profile fighters on the ONE Championship roster.
“Eddie Alvarez would be the big name I’d like to meet in the finals,” he said. “Before he came to ONE Championship, he was easily one of the top three guys in the lightweight division in the whole world. A top three guy… it’d be a good scenario fighting someone like that.”
While Ting is very excited about the prospect of a fight with Eddie Alvarez, that’s not his ultimate goal. The real prize goes to the winner of the Grand Prix, who will be awarded a shot at the ONE lightweight belt.
The lightweight strap will next be on the line at ONE: A New Era in Tokyo, when reigning champ Eduard Folayang defends his title against Japanese legend Shinya Aoki in one of four title fights on the bill.
Ting has fought and come up short to both Folayang and Aoki, and would leap at the chance to avenge either setback. Yet his main target is always the belt — not so much the man holding it.
“Anyone contracted to a fight promotion, the focus is always on the belt, always on the championship, to prove to everybody that you’re the best,” he stated. “So that’s always the goal.”
For the moment, of course, Ting’s focus is locked to the man blocking his path. Dagi.
He’s confident he can get the job done in Singapore, and encourages MMA fans all over the world to tune in and watch him try.
“I think I can submit him in the first two rounds, if not, a knockout,” he said confidently.
Catch Ev Ting in action at ONE: Call to Greatness this Friday.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/20/2019.