Ev Ting is not going to rest until he becomes the ONE Lightweight World Champion.
Now 10 months removed from his failed world title challenge, the Malaysian-bred athlete is building himself back up as the top contender for the lightweight crown. He looks to add upon his momentum on Friday, 23 February, when he clashes with Ariel “Tarzan” Sexton at ONE: QUEST FOR GOLD. The event broadcasts live from the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
“[Ariel] is a game black belt, and he has faced pretty much the other half of the division that I have not faced yet,” the 28-year-old states.
“So competing against him would be a great unification in a way, to show that we are true contenders of the division, and we should be right up there in contention for a world title shot.”
Much like his parents, the man known as “E.T.” has always sought opportunity.
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 better job 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.
“E.T.” had a diverse group of friends, and played team sports such as rugby and football. 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 a martial arts gym that opened up very close by, which is Auckland MMA.”
He had been a fan of martial arts and enjoyed watching the sport’s elite compete inside the cage, 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 martial arts. Soon after beginning his training, he competed in a slew of amateur competitions and, after 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 martial arts career, Ting made his professional cage debut in 2011, and he 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 match where I met not only the right people, but the people that made everything happen,” he explains.
“From that loss, I got contracts from 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 had signed with ONE Championship, and further staked his claim on the global stage. Since his promotional debut, he has won eight of his ten bouts, including victories over the likes of former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario, Kamal Shalorus, and both Kelly brothers.
In April 2017, he earned a shot at the ONE Lightweight World Championship against then-titleholder Eduard Folayang. Despite remaining competitive in the five-round thriller, he wound up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision.
In defeat, Ting benefitted once again.
“I made some mistakes, and I should have stuck to a basic sequence and focused on that. But it is all part of the journey, and it has made me a better character since then,” he explains.
“In some ways, it is a blessing in disguise. It just was not my time, and I feel when it is my time, it will be much more rewarding.”
Since then, he has rededicated himself to his mission of capturing the lightweight world title. “E.T.” kicked off his campaign later in August with a resounding TKO victory over former ONE Welterweight World Champion Nobutatsu Suzuki. He will have a chance to elevate himself further up the ranks when he meets Sexton at ONE: QUEST FOR GOLD.
It has been a remarkable eight years Ting. He went from being a car apprentice looking to make friends to a world title challenger on the global stage.
While the martial arts have equipped him with a blossoming career, it has provided him with more than he could have ever imagined.
“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 bout. 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.”