Leandro Ataides believes he is destined to become the first-ever ONE FC middleweight champion. It's been his goal since the day he signed with Asia's biggest MMA organization and this November he will finally get to fight for the belt.
The undefeated Brazilian had to be patient with the title fight initially set for Taiwan and then Dubai, but the moment will arrive at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on November 7th when he faces Igor Svirid at ONE FC: "Battle of Lions" and Ataides promises to be in the best shape of his life.
"I was ready to fight in July but I think there were some problems with my opponent and then I could not fight in August because my sister is very sick and I had to go back to Brazil, but I have been ready for a long time. I am hungry for the win, it is my destiny to win this title."
Ataides brings a perfect professional record of 7-0 into his fight with Igor Svirid and the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt and Copa de Mundo champion has won both his ONE FC fights with first round knockouts against experienced opponents. His Kazakh opponent is not so well known but the Brazilian is anticipating a stern test of his title credentials.
"If he is fighting for the title then for sure he is tough and I think he has won his last nine fights. My coaches at Evolve MMA tell me he likes to go on the ground, but I am a Jiu Jitsu black belt, so we will see who is better on the ground."
Incredibly, this will be Svirid's seventh fight of 2014 but Ataides says he is not reading too much into his opponent's impressive record.
"I don't know who he has been fighting but I think all his fights are in Russia. ONE FC is the biggest in Asia and has some of the best fighters in the world and winning fights for ONE FC is not as easy as winning fights on small shows. The champions are very tough fighters like Askren and Aoki."
Askren and Aoki are team mates of Ataides' at Evolve MMA and the undefeated middleweight says he is excited to have the opportunity to challenge for the belt in his adopted home of Singapore.
"I have been here at Evolve MMA for more than one year and I am very happy. The Muay Thai trainers have helped me a lot and I am a much more dangerous fighter than before and I have many friends here in Singapore and I hope they will come and watch my fight."
Although Ataides' grappling credentials are impeccable, we have not seen too much of his submission skills as he has knocked out both ONE FC opponents in the opening round. With this title bout set for five rounds, the Brazilian might need to pace himself, but he says he is hoping for a stoppage.
"For sure it is better to finish a fight in the first round than to have the decision, but I am an aggressive fighter, that is my style, and I cannot change that style just because the fight is five rounds. I always fight for the finish but if I have to fight for 15 minutes or 25 minutes, I am ready."
The current list of ONE FC champions is a prestigious one and includes the names of Bibiano Fernandes, Adriano Moraes, and Jadamba Narantungulag, as well as Ben Askren and Shinya Aoki. For Ataides the ambition is to become an undefeated champion like Askren,
"I never lost one time in MMA and ONE FC has tough fighters so it will not be easy for me to keep winning but I have the best trainers in the world and I get better every fight. I want to be an undefeated champion, that is my dream."
Ataides is one win away from realizing that dream and securing a spot in history as the first-ever ONE FC middleweight champion. It's a huge opportunity and the undefeated Brazilian has no intention of letting it slip from his hands.