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Almiro Barros takes inspiration from Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke as he prepares for ONE Championship return

It's been two years since Almiro Barros last stepped inside the cage and in that time he's seen one of his teammates go from making a pro debut to winning the ONE Championship 115-pound title.

The Brazilian actually made his debut before Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke but says seeing one of his training partners go from mixed martial arts (MMA) novice to reigning world champion in such a short space of time was a major source of inspiration.

"Dejdamrong is a true inspiration not just for myself, but for every single person out there. He came in as a multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion but ever since he started training in MMA, his BJJ and wrestling has improved every single day. He also won a couple of his fights via submission as well. I feel truly honored and blessed to have him as a team-mate, he deserves to be the ONE Strawweight World Champion!"

Barros is entitled to wonder what might have been. After all, he made his pro debut nine months before Dejdamrong but while the Thai was able to fight five times in the space of 12 months the Brazilian would spent nearly two years on the sidelines.

"Unfortunately, I’ve suffered a couple of setbacks in terms of injury since my last fight and I also had to fly back home to Brazil to take care of my father who had some health problems. But I feel good once again and I’m ready to return to the ONE cage."

At ONE: "Tigers of Asia" on Friday he will be going up against one of the top fighters in the flyweight division. Malaysian Gianni Subba already has five ONE Championship wins to his name despite being eight years the junior of the Brazilian. Barros was originally scheduled to face Ruel Catalan, but doesn't seem to perturbed about the prospect of facing a much more established opponent.

"The change of opponent from Catalan to Subba doesn't really affect me much. After being absent from the ONE cage for quite some time now, I'm just really excited to be making my return to competition. Both of them are strikers and I'm ready for them. I train daily with Muay Thai World Champions and excellent strikers here at Evolve MMA so I am confident."

Although Subba has significantly more experience in MMA terms Barros can fall back on decades of grappling experience in which he's earned his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt and won numerous tournaments and competitions,

"I started training in martial arts when I was 10 years old back in Brazil. I initially started training in Judo as my grand uncle was a master. I started training in BJJ at the age of 14 after being inspired by Royce Gracie and I was a national champion in BJJ, a silver medalist at the world championships, a seven times state champion, and a two times South American champion."

In his first fight for ONE Championship, way back in September of 2013, Barros won a hard-fought decision over an experienced Australian opponent. He's had plenty of time to improve since then and promises fight fans he will display a few new tricks when he competes in Kuala Lumpur next week.

"I love the feeling of fighting inside the ONE Championship cage. I was looking to submit my opponent but he was a really tough guy. I know I can be better than how I was during my first fight but having been working a lot on my striking over the past couple of years, I’m looking to show a newly improvement version of myself."

Barros is best known in Singapore for running the "Little Samurai" program at Evolve MMA which is extremely popular with young children. When he's not preparing for a fight he is busy teaching BJJ to little boys and girls and says the job came about due to his friendship with current UFC fighter Leandro Issa.

"My good friend and teammate Leandro Issa invited me to be a part of Evolve MMA, but having spent a couple of months here himself. I had a chat with him about living my dream of teaching martial arts in a different country and I was really interested and excited when Chatri Sityodtong invited me to be a part of the academy here in Singapore!"

On paper Subba looks to pose a much greater challenge than Catalan would have done and Barros acknowledges that his opponent has no obvious weaknesses.

"Subba is more of a complete fighter and he will have the home ground advantage come fight night but I'm ready for him. I have nothing but respect for his skills and his record. I'm excited to put on a good show and give the fans a good fight!"

Sometimes fighters from a BJJ background struggle to make the transition to MMA because the former puts so much emphasis on positional superiority. Inside the cage it's more important to fight to finish and while Barros won't reveal his tactics, the Brazilian must be determined to get the submission.

"I guess you’ll have to wait for fight night to see what gameplan we have ready on fight night. However, what I can say is that I train alongside some of the very best and I know that I have improved in all areas of my game. Come fight night I’ll be ready to showcase what they are."

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