“Cannon” Ma Jia Wen may have spent a year away from active competition, but he made a big statement in his return to ONE Championship last Friday.
On 9 March, the Chinese featherweight defeated Pakistan’s Ahmed “Wolverine” Mujtaba at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The 21-year-old Chinese athlete exhausted Mujtaba towards the end of the first round, and then sunk in a rear-naked choke to force the tap at the 2:38 mark of the second frame.
With the win, Ma avenged his Tianjin Top Team training partner Li Kai Wen, elevates his record to 5-2, and now finds himself on a three-bout win streak. “Cannon” will undoubtedly get a step up in competition, and already has an ideal event in mind for his next outing.
He discusses this, and much more, in this exclusive post-victory interview.
ONE Championship: You had an amazing match against Ahmed Mujtaba. What was your strategy, and goals, for the bout?
Ma Jia Wen: Well, I wish I had ended the match in the first round, and I hoped I could have done it in the stand-up. But I gave him too many chances by making a lot of unnecessary mistakes. That was really a waste of time. I did not do my best, but to me, no matter what my strategy was, I always knew I would win.
That is the confidence I possessed, and I am happy with the result. Of course, my brother Li Kai Wen is happy as well. After a year of not competing, I think winning this match was a good announcement of my return.
ONE: What do you take away from this victory, on a personal level?
MJW: I think for me, I should focus on the progress I have been making. I will focus on how to improve my skills, and my knowledge of martial arts. When my time comes [to compete again], I will have an even better performance.
I am a guy who is always focused on my shortcomings. I always think there are things I can do better. I am not very easily satisfied with any current situation, just like I am not happy about [my performance] in every match I participate in — even if all my fans and other people tell me it is good enough.
I think that is because I still have not found the right feeling about myself in the cage. I think it might take some time to get used to the pace and environment. For me, there is still a lot to learn.
ONE: Is there anyone in particular you would like to face next?
MJW: I respect every athlete. Without them, I would not be here, because they encourage me, inspire me, and push me in every step that I take. Now, I will take every possible opportunity ONE Championship provides me, and I am even more focused on improving my skills.
My final goal is to win the ONE Featherweight World Championship, so now I will be as modest as possible. I do not like to talk too big.
ONE: There will be a lot of events in the coming months, especially in China. What would it mean to you to compete on one of the Chinese shows?
MJW: I would very happy, and I hope there will be even more events in China. I especially want to participate at the event in Shanghai (ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS in May). There are a lot of fans in Shanghai. Also, I hope one day, an event will be held in my hometown of Tianjin. My family and friends will be there watching, and I want everyone in my hometown to be proud of me.
ONE: Xiong Jing Nan won in January, Li won last month, and you just won. Chinese martial artists seem unstoppable right now.
MJW: I think with the development of martial arts in China, there will be more famous athletes coming out of China really soon. I believe there are a lot of talented people there, and they only need to be given a chance. My goal for 2018 is to win every match I participate in. I want to train hard, and hopefully, all Chinese athletes will continue to achieve good results.