Benedict Ang only turned 20 a couple of weeks ago but the Singaporean featherweight has already got his pro mixed martial arts (MMA) career off to the best possible start. He's won two fights out of two for Asia's biggest promotion and will be back in action at ONE: "Ascent to Power" next month.
In his most recent outing the Singaporean was thrown in with experienced Indonesian Yohan Legowo and needed just two rounds to finish an opponent 15 years his senior. The Indonesian was a veteran of 10 fights and this was a particularly satisfying victory for Ang.
"I stuck to the game plan given and I believe that performance was a methodical dissection of a vastly more experienced opponent. With that being said, there are still many things for me to fix and learn. I am still no where near my full potential and I am always improving my craft. I was very pleased with the performance but the best is yet to come.
It represented quite a step up for Ang who would have been just six years old when Legowo made his pro debut but the Singaporean says he took it all in his stride.
"I wasn't nervous about fighting someone as experienced as Legowo. I was just excited about the challenge. I train with the best team in the world, Evolve MMA, and when you are surrounded by a world championship team you have absolute confident in your preparation and your ability to come out victorious."
Next up is an opponent who already has five wins on his record. Jimmy Yabo needed just 21 seconds to finish Bashir Ahmad in his last fight and Ang is determined not to leave any openings for the Filipino to potentially exploit.
"I saw that fight and I wasn't surprised because Yabo is a decent counter fighter and Bashir ran at him too eagerly leaving himself too open. A mistake I will not make."
Ang recently won two gold medals at the Singapore National Wrestling Open. He trains alongside Ben Askren at Evolve MMA and says he's been working hard on this aspect of his game.
"I enjoy wrestling. I am really inspired by the dominance of Ben Askren's wrestling and the way he takes people down and keep them there is really nice to watch. I am definitely proud of those medals as I put in a lot of time in pure wrestling prior to that tournament."
Ang is studying for a diploma in sports coaching but says he is able to train on a full time basis and fulfill all his academic commitments. His Singaporean team mate Angela Lee will be challenging for a ONE Championship title in the main event of ONE: "Ascent to Power" and that match up is already the talk of the town.
"There's definitely a lot of excitement surrounding her title fight. She's been really impressive since making her MMA debut with ONE Championship and we are all fully behind her. She has an amazing opportunity to be ONE Championship's first female MMA World Champion and we're all very proud of her."
Ang went 6-0 as an amateur before signing with ONE. He's already fought twice at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and his career has enjoyed a remarkable steep trajectory.
"The jump from the amateur circuit straight into Asia's best organization has been surreal but it's the perfect platform for me to achieve my dreams of becoming a world champion. I do sometimes get recognized on the street in Singapore but it doesn't affect me, I fight because it's my passion and not for fame."
It is nearly six months since Ang last stepped inside the cage but he hasn't taken any time off and promises to show some new tricks when he faces Yabo on May 6.
"I have been training as always with Head Coach Heath Sims, Eddie Ng, Leandro Issa, Bruno Pucci, Amir Khan, Dejdamrong Sor Annuaysirichok and Kru Yod. Continuously improving my craft in each aspect of my game and adding new weapons, I always look to bring something new and exciting each time I step into the cage."
The popularity of MMA in Singapore is skyrocketing and Ang is one of a handful of local fighters making a name for themselves on the international stage. He feels patriotic pride is at stake every time he steps into the cage and is determined to secure what would be a third straight ONE Championship victory next month.
"Nothing excites me more than being victorious in front of my home crowd and flying the Singapore flag high with pride."