Eddie Ng has won four fights out of four under the ONE FC banner and a win over Vincent Latoel this Friday (May 30, 2014) in Singapore would make it a perfect five (preview here). Companies are queuing up to sponsor him, magazines regularly feature his image and the 28 year old from Hong Kong is rapidly emerging as a bona fide superstar.
He should be on top of the world, but there are a few blots on Ng’s horizon. Injuries, either to him or his opponent, have put paid to multiple match ups and he can never be champion while his team mate Shinya Aoki still holds the 155-pound belt.
Under normal circumstances, four wins out of four would be enough to secure any fighter a title shot, but Ng says that even if he beats Latoel at ONE FC: "Honor & Glory" on Friday, he will still be content to bide his time.
"Shinya is at a completely different stage of his career to me, he’s a few years older and he has much more experience and many more fights. I want to be a ONE FC champion one day, but time is on my side and my focus is on beating my next opponent," Ng told MMA Mania.
The success that Ng has enjoyed in MMA is reflected by his 7-1 record but in seven years he has only fought eight times. That is partly due to the patient approach he has taken towards his career and he struggled to find opponents willing to fight him in the early days, but injuries have also played their part.
Ng has been forced to pull out of multiple fights, most recently due to a long running shoulder complaint, and says he would like to be competing much more regularly.
"An ideal number of fights a year for me would be three, maximum four. In between training for a fight, I really focus on training to learn and add more skills to my toolbox. I think more than four fights wouldn't give me as much time to focus on learning," he said.
The fight with Latoel at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday will be Ng’s first of the year, so it’s going to be a struggle fitting three fights into 2014, but he says as long as he is learning and improving, the intermittent nature of his competitive schedule isn’t an issue.
"Preparing for a specific fight lasts for a few weeks or months, but learning martial arts is a journey that goes on forever. At Evolve MMA, I’m fortunate because I get to train daily with Muay Thai World Champions like Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn and Attachai Fairtex, BJJ World Champions like Leandro Issa and Bruno Pucci and former U.S. Olympian wrestler Heath Sims, so I never stop learning," he said.
However, he is hoping to compete much more frequently in future and has already set his sights on some of the top fighters in the lightweight division.
"I trust the ONE FC matchmakers to select the best opponents, but of course I keep an eye on the other fighters in the division. Eduard Folayang and Caros Fodor are both tough opponents with different unique skill sets and it would be interesting to see how I could work my strengths against what I believe their weaknesses to be. I was originally scheduled to fight Kamal Shalorus in March and then in May, and if we can both keep winning our fights, I hope that match up can still happen."
He is not looking beyond Latoel. While the Dutch fighter’s win ratio might pale in comparison to Ng’s, he is significantly more experienced and the Hong Kong native is taking nothing for granted.
"I look at a fighter’s skill set rather than their record and Vincent is capable of fighting standing and on the ground. Plus he has more than 30 fights and is much more experienced than me, but my coaches at Evolve MMA have won world championships in boxing and Muay Thai and BJJ and they share their experience with me every day, not just by teaching me new techniques but by helping me prepare on the mental side as well. That kind of knowledge and advice is priceless."
In eight bouts he has never been the distance, while Latoel has only gone the full three rounds twice in 30 fights. The suspicion is that ONE FC matchmaker Matt Hume put these two together in the hope that they would produce a highlight reel submission or knockout and Ng is not expecting to need the intervention of the judges.
"We are both happy to exchange strikes standing up, as he’s not afraid to engage and neither am I. I’m ready to fight the full three rounds if I have to, but this fight isn’t going the distance," he said.