South Korean Kang Ji Won has rapidly built a reputation as an upset machine in ONE Championship.
Since joining the Singapore-based martial arts organization, the 26-year-old Kang has put together two stunning finishes in the Circle. He stopped highly-regarded Iranian wrestlers in Mehdi Barghi and Amir Aliakbari.
Kang entered these match-ups as the underdog, but defied the odds and has impressed with his ability to overcome adversity. “Mighty Warrior” came back from being down early in both fights to score scintillating stoppages, earning a throng of fans in the process.
His epic performances put the entire heavyweight division in ONE Championship on notice. Now, Kang has his eyes set on a potential next opponent.
“The next one on my list would be Brandon Vera, he’s a former champion. But right now looking at him, I believe that he’s old. He came from the UFC but now I don’t think he’s the same anymore. I really think that I have a good chance in that fight,” Kang called the former ONE Championship heavyweight king out.
“To Brandon Vera, I really respect you. I really look up to you as a fighter. I believe that our fight will be very explosive and exciting, a very exciting fight that the fans will love. So I’ll make sure that I prepare well and I’ll be there.”
Vera was ONE Championship’s long-running heavyweight titleholder. The Filipino-American won the inaugural belt in 2015, and held the title a long time, effecting a reign in the promotion’s highest weight class which lasted nearly six years.
Earlier this year, Vera surrendered the ONE Heavyweight World Title to India’s Arjan Bhullar, succumbing by shocking second-round technical knockout. After the fight, when Bhullar was asked whom he thought deserved the first crack at the belt, the Indian singled out Kang.
Immediately, “Mighty Warrior” was excited with the possibility of a title shot.
“As soon as he became the champion, right there in that circle, in the post-fight interview, he called me out. I didn’t call him out, he called me out. I think that’s enough reason for me to get a title shot,” Kang said.
“If you see the whole flow of MMA, champions don’t usually call out challengers, it’s the other way around. Challengers usually call out the champions because they want that opportunity. But for me, it was the champion who was calling me out, so I think I deserve the next shot.”
Kang is currently on the back end of recovering from a few injuries he sustained in his last fight against Aliakbari. But the 26-year-old says he’s ready to spring up to any challenge at a moment’s notice.
Vera may have his next opponent if he’s willing. The prospect of a Vera-Kang showdown seems promising. If anything, it’s definitely a fight for the fans.
“I’m ready even now. If ONE Championship calls me now, I’ll run over there.”