Ev Ting was born in Malaysia, but left the country aged 6 when his family emigrated to New Zealand. The 27-year-old grew up in Auckland, but would go on to become one of the most popular fighters in the country of his birth.
Ting will headline ONE: Throne of Tigers in Kuala Lumpur this Friday (local time) when he faces UFC and WEC veteran Kamal Shalorus. It will be his sixth time fighting in Malaysia and he’s emerged as a real fan favorite there.
“I can connect with the Malaysians fans; they support their own kind. It’s good to have that connection and support from them. It means everything to have supporters that support me.”
So far, it has been a very successful homecoming for Ting, who has won five fights out of six in the country where he spent his formative years.
“I was 6 when we came to New Zealand. For me, it was quite natural because I grew up in a very multi-cultural background, whereas my siblings were already attached to their Malaysian lifestyle and were more lost than I was.”
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Ting would defy cultural stereotypes by throwing himself into local sports like rugby and football.
“I was very competitive, so I would try to part take in the local sports and competitions. I wouldn’t say I was good, but I would always give 100 percent. Let’s say other Chinese kids were more into their academic studies and grades.”
Growing up, Ting was always a fighter, be it on the football pitch, the rugby pitch or occasionally on the street. It wasn’t until later in life that he decided to test his skills in the competitive arena.
“My first fight in town (was when) we were kicked out of the club called Globe and the bouncer that kicked me out is actually my coach today. I mean, at that time I had no idea he was a coach or he was a head of the academy, it wasn’t until I walked into the gym. Looking back now, it’s actually quite funny.”
Ting made his amateur debut in 2010 and won three fights out of four before deciding to take the plunge and turn pro.
“After my first few amateur fights, I told my coach, ‘I want to do this for a living. I want to fight for money. I want to travel.’ So he gave me the steps, said, ‘hey, train six months, have a few more fights, we’ll go from there.’”
It is interesting how many of Ting’s early opponents have gone on to enjoy successful MMA careers, either establishing themselves as top contenders with PXC or earning contracts with major global promotions like ONE Championship and the UFC. This experience has served him well as he looks to become the best lightweight in Asia.
At Stadium Negara on Friday night, Ting faces an opponent who has been in with some of the best lightweights in the world. Shalorus was one of the top contenders with WEC and fought a couple of opponents in the UFC who would go on to establish themselves as either champions or top contenders.
Ting is well aware of his opponent’s reputation, but is confident of securing a fourth straight win.
“He fought Khabib (Nurmagomedov), Shinya (Aoki), RDA (Rafael Dos Anjos), he beat the current champion (Eduard Folayang) and another top contender (Ariel Sexton). He’s right up there, but it’s my time, and there’s nothing he can do about it. He’s going to try to take me down, he’s going to try to knock me out, but I’m going to touch his face until he stops moving.”
Ting is known for his head kicks, but has also won three of his ONE Championship fights with a guillotine choke. He’s a versatile fighter who says his single greatest strength is his heart.
“They will have to really beat me. They got to almost kill me to beat me. I don’t see myself getting up. I don’t see myself just stopping because I’m tired.”
With main event status and a partisan Malaysian crowd behind him, Ting won’t be short of motivation at ONE: Throne of Tigers. He’s potentially one win away from a lightweight title shot and is determined not to let Shalorus spoil that momentum.
“We have a UFC veteran that’s coming in to steal my spotlight, but he’s not going to take that.”
Folayang’s surprise win over Aoki last year left ONE Championship’s lightweight division wide open. The Filipino is penciled in to make the first defense of his belt in Manila on April 21. Ting will be looking to secure a title shot on that card with a win over Shalorus this week.
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