HEADING into the biggest fight in his MMA career, Ev Ting couldn't help but look back at how much martial arts has played a role in setting his life straight.
The Malaysian-Kiwi fighter stood out with his class during Tuesday’s press conference for his fight against lightweight champ Eduard Folayang in ONE: Kings of Destiny set on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Standing next to Folayang with a mic in hand, Ting had every chance to steal the show and play the hype game commonly seen in the world of prize fighting.
Instead, he used it to pay tribute to his Filipino foe and recall his roots as well as a martial artist.
"I don't know how you can say something (negative) about him (Folayang)," Ting said as he addressed the crowd inside the City of Dreams Grand Ballroom last Tuesday.
"A lot of fighters, they would say things, they would steal belts (in press conferences). I would not do that. It's all about respect. That's what martial arts is all about," he added, receiving applause after his short speech.
Ting’s unconventional approach stems from how he started out with martial arts as a kid of Malaysian descent in New Zealand.
Growing up smaller than most kids of Polynesian roots, Ting credits martial arts for playing a big role in his life. He wasn't necessarily bullied, but knowing how to fight gave him security, among others.
But it wasn't until the formative years of his youth where he truly felt martial arts’ life-changing impact.
Like most teenagers, bad company and dangerous vices plagued him growing up. That was the time where he found himself in the world of mixed martial arts and that turned his life around for good.
"Mixed martial arts, in general, has changed my life. Before this, I was getting in a lot of fights. All my friends were drinking heavily, all are doing drugs, and I was going down the wrong path, but it’s with mixed martial arts that I could really channel all my energy in one thing," Ting said.
"It taught me values and principles, taught me about myself, explore and become one with myself to become the best version of myself, if that makes sense," he added.
The exchange of pleasantries, instead of animosity, between two humble fighters makes the Folayang-Ting clash interesting and refreshing. Respect, competition and tradition are the key components heading into this battle, and precisely the same values that martial arts promote.
"He’s a tough champion. He’s shown that. Look at him, he’s a specimen so I’m preparing for the best version of the champion," Ting said when asked about Folayang.
"Watching his last fight, there wasn’t much to study. He had a perfect performance. He defended everything and showed superiority in striking and wrestling. No flaws I could bring up, so it’s a matter of believing in myself that I could do more and better him come fight night," he added.
Ting has repeatedly said in the past that this match is a special one.
With no theatrics needed to hype the fight, Ting couldn't have said it better.
"I'm not saying this for myself but I feel like you're privileged to see this fight. This is gonna be one special fight."