Hiroba Minowa is ready to square off with another member of ONE Championship's strawweight elite.
The Japanese rising star will make his fourth promotional appearance at "ONE 159: De Ridder vs. Bigdash" on July 22, and just like his first three fights, he'll be facing a top-five contender.
This time, No. 3-ranked Minowa (13-3) will battle No. 2-ranked Bokang Masunyane (8-1), and the winner could put themselves in position to challenge for the world title later this year.
Unfazed by another dangerous foe, the STF representative is ready to throw down with anyone – and he's determined to reach the top of the division.
"I only want to become a world champion," Minowa said. "I know as long as I fight at ONE, I have to face strong opponents.
"(Masunyane) is an amazing athlete. He has the best physical ability. He has the best agility. Even if we Japanese train hard, we cannot achieve his level of agility. I'm so jealous. But I feel like we have something in common with a humble and tough mentality."
While he may not be able to match the pure athleticism of "Little Giant," Minowa is a strong technical fighter who can compete in any range.
The 22-year-old also thinks that many of his rivals lean too heavily on their physical attributes, whereas he can use his well-rounded game and fight IQ to achieve victory.
"Bokang has good agility, but he relies on it too much," Minowa explained. "He should utilize that agility on top of MMA skills. I don't have as much power or agility as Bokang, but I know how to win.
"In general, I don't have specific background in other martial arts but my MMA skills are better than others. I have better defensive skills. Also, I am a better grappler than him.
"This fight will be a very competitive one – either standing or on the ground it will be very close game. I think the one who slows down first will lose this match. I'm ready to fight for the full three rounds."
Minowa thinks he could beat Jarred Brooks in rematch
Despite a defeat to No. 1-ranked contender Jarred Brooks (19-2) in his last outing, Minowa still feels like the division's top dogs are within touching distance.
The Japanese athlete is the only man who's pushed Brooks to the scorecards in ONE Championship so far and believes he was getting stronger when their showdown came to a conclusion at "ONE: Only the Brave" in January.
Now that he's learned from their first battle – and now that Brooks is preparing to challenge divisional king Joshua Pacio next – Minowa is confident that he could defeat the American if they meet again.
"My biggest mistake was I was too focusing on wrestling (against Brooks)," Minowa added. "Before the fight, I believed that if I did not get attacked by his wrestling, I could win the match. But Brooks put his striking in very early, then I had no idea what he would do next, and I was one step behind.
"Jarred was tired (in round three) and seemed surprised that I had stamina left. I didn't gear up in the third round – my stamina was the same for all the rounds. If there was more time, I would be able to beat him."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.