Ev Ting is once again heading home to Malaysia, and this time he is determined to leave with a dominant victory and a future title shot at the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
The New Zealand-based martial artist will return to his birthplace on 10 February to battle ex-title challenger “The Prince Of Persia” Kamal Shalorus in the main event of ONE: THRONE OF TIGERS in Kuala Lumpur.
Currently riding a three-fight win streak, the man known as “E.T.” believes defeating the former number one contender in convincing fashion will be enough to secure the title opportunity he desires.
“Obviously, I want to leave a strong statement and have a really good performance. But I have to go in there, be careful, be cautious, and take it as it comes,” the 27-year-old says. “It is no secret I am coming in with my best sprawl-and-brawl game, and it is a matter of hitting him without getting hit or taken down.”
Doing that in-front of his fellow countrymen would make the occasion extra special.
Born in Malaysia, Ting spent the first seven years of his life in the Southeast Asian country before his parents uprooted the entire family to Auckland, New Zealand, for more opportunities. His father worked in the timber industry and his mother worked as a secretary, and they were able to provide their five children with a strong education and a healthy environment.
Young Ting had a diverse group of friends, and played team sports such as rugby and football. He even hung out with the computer-crazy kids. But after graduating from Manurewa High School in 2007, his days of competing in team sports were over.
Between that and moving to a new community, Ting needed an athletic outlet to maintain his fitness, and hopefully, make some new friends. In late 2009, he found that outlet, and it was practically right around the corner.
“I was in a brand new suburb with no friends, so I went to look for an individual sport,” he remembers. “Luckily, there was an MMA gym that opened up very close by, which is Auckland MMA.”
He had been a fan of martial arts and enjoyed watching mixed martial arts, so it was a perfect match.
Needless to say, it was an immensely hectic time for the Malaysian-bred Kiwi. In addition to beginning his martial arts journey, he continued his education at Auckland University of Technology and worked as an apprentice for French car manufacturer Peugeot.
Ting, however, was fascinated with MMA. Soon after beginning his training, he competed in a slew of amateur competitions and, finding success, believed he could make a career out of it. Not only did he believe it, but he wanted it.
Deciding to focus strictly on his budding MMA career, Ting made his professional debut in 2011 and racked up three straight wins in local organizations. In February 2012, just two weeks after his third win, a Hong Kong-based promotion offered him a bout against rising star Mark Striegl.
“E.T.” took the bout on two weeks’ notice, underwent another weight cut and, despite a valiant effort, was submitted via rear-naked choke in the first round. In an odd way, that blemish opened some of his biggest doors.
“It was actually from that fight where I met not only the right people, but the people that made everything happen,” he explains. “From that loss, I got contracts from the fighters and gym owners in Malaysia, and I would say that was the start of me making my name in Asia.”
After receiving his Diploma of Sport and Recreation from AUT in 2012, Ting spent the next two years refining his game, stacking more wins, re-connecting with his Malaysian roots, and cross-training at Kuala Lumpur-based gym Klinch MMA.
By June 2014, he signed with ONE Championship and further staked his claim on the Asian fight scene. Since debuting with the promotion, he has won six of his seven ONE bouts, and holds victories over the likes of the Kelly brothers, former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio Banario, and Rob Lisita, whom he most recently fought at ONE: UNBREAKABLE WARRIORS in Malaysia last September.
“Now I am on a winning streak and I am one fight away from a title shot,” Ting states. “So yeah, it was a rough and fast start here in Asia, but I am glad I am on the positive end of it.”
The Auckland MMA product is carrying momentum and that could be one of the difference makers in his upcoming battle with Shalorus.
Shalorus, an Iranian National Wrestling Champion now based in Washington D.C., is a Relson Gracie BJJ brown belt who holds a 9-4-2 record with four wins coming by way of submission and one by TKO. He even holds a past victory over current ONE Lightweight World Champion, Eduard Folayang.
The last time the “Prince Of Persia” was inside the cage was two years ago, when he came up short in his quest to dethrone then-champ Shinya Aoki. Amidst the long layoff, Shalorus is hungry for another title shot and, at 39-years-old, he is making a final run at the gold. All of that makes for a very dangerous opponent.
“He is always surrounded by an active gym, so he is still around the scene and knows what it is like to be fighting, so I am not judging him by his ring rust,” Ting says. “I am training for the best version of Kamal Shalorus there is, and I will be prepared for the best wrestling and best takedowns he has.”
It has been a remarkable seven years. Ting went from being a car apprentice looking to make friends and stay fit at an MMA gym, to a near-title challenger in the eastern hemisphere’s biggest fight organization. The martial arts have equipped him with a blossoming career, and so much more.
“The whole martial arts lifestyle is what I breathe and preach. It has changed my life where I am not ripping my hands under cars at seven in the morning anymore and I am getting paid for a 15-minute fight. I used to do that for free, so it has changed my life in a lot of positive ways,” he says.
“As a person and my well-being in general, I would say it has allowed me the ability to find ways to balance it all, and find ways to keep out negative things and ideally attract positive situations. It has allowed me to be more in control of my full self.”