New Zealand MMA fighter Ev Ting eyes redemption at ONE: Call to Greatness

Ting will be back in action on Friday.
Ting will be back in action on Friday. Photo credit: Supplied

The popular island getaway of Bali may seem an unlikely destination for anything that doesn't involve liberal doses of sand, surf and sun.

But for ONE Championship lightweight contender Ev Ting, it's a place of pure business.

As is now custom, 'ET' has spent the final stages of his latest training camp with the team at Bali MMA - a gym that is fast establishing itself as a hub for fighters based in Asia and the South Pacific.

"It's all grind out here," Ting told Newshub. "It's funny, people will come here for a week, and ask 'have you been to Uluwatu or Ubud?' and I say 'no, I've been to the gym'.

"I've been putting in the work, missed out on all the Christmas and New Year's festivities, but I'm glad we got through it, and I'm healthy and ready to go."

The 29-year-old Kiwi-Malaysian is completing the final sharpening of his tools, before he squares off with Saygid 'Dagi' Arslanaliev at ONE: Call to Greatness in Singapore on February 22.

The bout will be the first in the Asia-based promotion's lightweight Grand Prix - an eight-man tournament to determine who will become the first challenger to whoever emerges as champion in next month's clash between Eduard Folayang and Shinya Aoki in Tokyo.

Dagestani Arslanaliev is considered one of the division's premier young prospects, coming off a stunning knock-out of hard-hitting Russian Timofey Nastyukhin in Jakarta.

In stark contrast, Ting's most recent outing was one he may prefer to forget - a first-round submission at the hands of grappling genius Aoki in Bangkok.

That said, the Auckland mixed martial arts product is taking the loss in his stride and insists he'll be a better fighter for the experience. Ting knows better than to dwell on defeat in a game as fickle as the martial arts.

"I was still dry, he got that first takedown and that was it. It was one mistake - the second I stopped moving that was when he got me.

"That's what I learned - keep moving - and it was a big lesson learnt. It's just about getting back on the bike now.

"It was a wake-up call that there's 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."

Could we see a Ting vs Alvarez final?
Could we see a Ting vs Alvarez final? Photo credit: Getty

That could spell danger for Arslanaliev at Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday.

"I'm still really fresh from my last fight, so I've obviously working a lot more on my grappling and jiu-jitsu, which is world class here [at Bali MMA]. I'm doing that everyday, on top of the striking.

"It's just a matter of unleashing it now and showcasing it to the world."

While Ting's immediate focus is firmly locked on his opponent this week, it's difficult to ignore the proverbial elephant in the bracket that looms on the other side of the tournament's draw -ONE's new marquee signing, Eddie Alvarez.

The former UFC and Bellator world champion is on a mission to add the ONE title to his mantelpiece, which would complete a historic trio of titles from the planet's three pre-eminent promotions.

Many expect Alvarez to march through the Grand Prix untroubled, but Ting suggests the American's place in the final is far from a given.

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"Eddie [Alvarez] has his hands full… I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't even make it through to the final.

"This Grand Prix is very high level. It's great that he bought his credentials to the tournament, but I wouldn't be surprised if Timofey [Nastyukhin] or any of the others take him out."

As for his own chances, Ting is determined to reverse the trend that has seen him battle to the brink of title glory on two occasions, only to fall agonisingly short, most notably in a razor-close decision loss to Folayang in 2017.

"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, 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."