Eddie Ng has not fought as regularly for ONE FC as he would have liked but he is still one of the most popular and recognizable fighters on the roster of Asia's biggest MMA promotion.
Originally from Hong Kong, a region renowned more for martial arts movie stars than actual fighters, Ng grew up in England but is now based in Singapore where he is a member of the Evolve MMA Fight Team.
He has already developed a fan following in Asia and is guaranteed vociferous support whenever he fights at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the venue which will host ONE FC: 'Kings and Champions' on April 5.
Ng's opponent that night will be Arnaud Lepont, the fighter he was originally scheduled to face at ONE FC: 'Destiny of Warriors' last June before suffering a serious shoulder injury which ruled him out for a year.
His two ONE FC fights to date have lasted a grand total of 88 seconds and, with his Evolve MMA team mate Shinya Aoki set to fight for the belt, Ng will be looking to show that he too is a genuine title contender with another convincing win.
He caught up with MMAmania.com to talk about his long layoff and his thoughts on facing Lepont...
Are you completely recovered from your shoulder injury?
If I was not completely recovered, I would not be fighting. It has been a long road back to recovery not just physically but mentally. A very important aspect of injury that many do not understand is the mental recovery. Not being afraid to perform movements that involve the injured area is just as important as the physical recovery. Also, my coaches here at Evolve MMA have a wealth of experience, they know me, my skill set and what I am capable of, they would advise me not to fight if I was not performing to my full capability.
How disappointing was it to have got injured just as your career was taking off?
There is never a good time to get injured, all injuries are disappointing to athletes regardless of when they occur. As a professional athlete involved in sport, I accept that injuries come with the territory. Of course I was disappointed to be sidelined for most of 2012, but I was able to sit back and improve on other areas of my life and training that maybe normally I would have overlooked.
This fight with Arnaud Lepont has been in the works for almost a year now, how happy are you that it is finally happening?
We were originally slated to fight in May 2012 but due to injury to had to withdraw from the fight and put my career on hold. Stylistically, I believe me and Arnaud can put on a fight that will go down in ONE FC history and I am happy that we get to put that prediction to the test!
What sort of training, if any, have you been doing since your injury?
I spent a lot of time with physical therapy, then progressed slowly onto solo martial arts specific movements before training with my coaches and team mates on the Evolve Fight Team. As soon as I was given the all clear, I was training 5-6 days a week, twice a day at the Evolve Fighters Program.
This will be your third fight in Singapore, how much do you enjoy fighting in front of the fans there?
I absolutely love fighting in front of the Singapore fans, the atmosphere at the Singapore Indoor Stadium is always nothing short of electric! I have called SIngapore home for the past 18 months, being able to fight infront of my friends and students just makes the whole experience that little bit more special.
There is talk about ONE FC putting on a card in Hong Kong, do you know when that might happen and are you hoping to headline?
No definitive date has been set as of yet, but ONE FC planning to put on an event there this year is huge news. I have heard that ONE FC are looking to hold events in many different locations, to me this really shows how fast ONE FC and MMA in Asia is growing. Headlining a ONE FC in Hong Kong would be a dream come true for me.
After being out for so long are you hoping to fight regularly this year?
Of course, this year I want to be as active as possible and with a little bit of luck, remain injury free and make up for being sidelined in 2012.
Do you feel that 'ring rust' could be an issue for you after being out for almost a year?
No, back when I was fighting in the UK it was difficult to get regular fights and I often had up to a year in between fights, sometimes even longer. I think if I was used to fighting regularly in the past, then yes for sure "Ring rust" would be a legitimate issue.
Arnaud Lepont went to a lot of effort to wind your friend and team mate Shinya Aoki up before they fought, are you expecting similar antics this time around and will you be paying any attention to them?
I'm a pretty laid back person and don't really mind what people say or think of me. Arnaud Lepont knows how to hype up fights! I think it really helps to build up the anticipation before a fight for all the One FC fans. We both have a lot of mutual respect for each other and that won't change regardless of what is said pre fight to build up the hype.
What sort of things will you be doing to prepare for this fight?
I train with everyone on the Evolve Fight Team, I consider all of them to be main training partners. With that said, I probably spend a little more time training with Shinya Aoki and Zorobabel Moreira simply because we are all fighting in the same weight class.
How much would it mean to everyone at Evolve MMA if Shinya can win the ONE FC belt?
It was heart breaking for all of us at Evolve MMA to see the results of both of our title fights go against us, but that is MMA, one person will win and one person will lose. Here at Evolve MMA we are like a family and if Shinya or anyone else has the belt, as long as it is home, we will all be happy.
You are good friends with Aoki, are you excited about fighting on the same card as him for the first time and will you be training together in preparation for this show?
When I really stop and think about this question, it is truly amazing... A few years ago I would never ever have imagined fighting on the same card as Shinya Aoki, I followed his career from Shooto all the way through the Pride FC days and up until DREAM. It is just so surreal to be fighting on the same card and training with him beforehand! My life has changed dramatically over the last 18 months and I count my blessings each and everyday. Thank you Chatri Sityodtong and Evolve MMA for accepting me into the family and Victor Cui for granting me the opportunity to fight on the largest MMA stage in Asia.
Interview courtesy of Evolve MMA