Eddie Ng should have been in the final preparations for the biggest fight of his life this week, but a shoulder injury forced him to pull out of the fight against Kamal Shalorus, which had initially been scheduled for this Friday’s (March 14, 2014) ONE FC: "War of Nations" event.
So instead of facing one of the best lightweights in the world at the biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) event to ever take place in Malaysia, the 27 year old will be watching on Star Sports and is disappointed to be missing out on such a massive fight.
"It was a huge disappointment to have to pull out of the scheduled fight with Kamal Shalorus, he is a former UFC and WEC veteran with KO power and high level wrestling. I see Kamal as a huge challenge to myself and I was extremely eager to challenge myself against an opponent of his quality and skills," Ng told MMA Mania.
After a recurrence of the shoulder injury which he suffered last year, Ng took the reluctant decision to pull out of the fight and was replaced by Ariel Sexton who, like him, is coming off a stoppage win against leading Malaysian lightweight Peter Davis.
That puts Ng in a strong position to predict the outcome of the fight and he says he believes the Iranian has the edge.
"Ariel Sexton is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with aggressive stand up skills and another tough ONE FC lightweight. I'm edging slightly towards Kamal Shalorus, but this is an extremely competitive fight and it could easily go the other way," he said.
Ng (7-1) has won four fights out of four for ONE FC and scored stoppages in all of them. He’s the promotion’s leading lightweight, behind reigning champion Shinya Aoki, and is the number one on the list of contenders to fight for the belt.
Aoki and Ng are team mates at Evolve MMA so that match-up will never happen. The Japanese champion plans to drop down a division which would open up the way for his training partner to fight for the title, but he is likely to make at least one defense of his lightweight belt first.
In the meantime, a match-up between Ng and the winner of this Friday’s fight between Shalorus and Sexton would make a lot of sense and he confirmed he would be open to facing either opponent.
"They are both extremely tough opponents and the winner will most likely be considered as one of the top contenders to challenge for the ONE FC lightweight title. It would be a huge honor to face either opponent, both of them will force me to become the best version of myself that I can possibly be," he said.
With so many big fights out there, Ng’s injuries have come at the worst possible time, but he remains philosophical and prefers to count his blessings rather than waste time dwelling on what could have been,
"Injuries are part of MMA just like they are in soccer, basketball or any other sport. Yes, it is very frustrating to be injured and not be able to compete or even train for some time; however, I know that there are less fortunate people out there with injuries or ailments that severely affect their quality of life. I am just thankful that my injury is temporary. It won’t last forever and ultimately it is not the end of the world."
While some fighters will forget about MMA when injuries prevent them from training Ng, is constantly looking at ways he can improve as a martial artist even when he can’t compete.
"From 2012 when I first injured my shoulder, I realized that there are things that I can still do to stay involved with training. I have a notebook that I write in while watching MMA, boxing and Muay Thai fights. I write down things that I observe and want to try, I watch from the perspective of each fighter’s individual corner and I watch from each fighter’s perspective. These things keep me mentally sharp for when I am ready to train again physically."
The issues with his shoulder prevent Ng from participating in the rigors of a full fight camp, but he has not abandoned training altogether and says he continues to practice the various components of MMA whenever he can.
"Fortunately for me I have the best training partners and coaches in the world at Evolve MMA. Trainers and team mates like Muay Thai World Champion Orono Wor Petchpun or BJJ World Champion and UFC Fighter Leandro Issa have a level of understanding and experience in their respective martial arts disciplines which has allowed me to come back to training sooner because they know what limitations I have with my injury and they allow me to still train and work around it."
Few if any fighters on the ONE FC roster have had the same sort of impact as Ng and the manner in which he has been able to compile a perfect 4-0 record for the promotion without ever leaving a fight in the hands of the judges is even more remarkable when you take into account his injury issues.
The Hong Kong native knows he is one of the most marketable and popular fighters currently competing for Asia’s biggest MMA organization and says he is excited to see more elite level mixed martial artists signing for ONE FC.
"Ben Askren is without a doubt one of the best welterweights in MMA. I think to have a fighter of his caliber sign with ONE FC tells you a lot about how much ONE FC has grown since the inaugural event in September 2011. Whilst I do think that it is quite surreal to be signed with the same organisation as Ben Askren and Shinya Aoki I wouldn't be surprised to see more huge names in MMA signing with ONE FC as it continues to grow."