Keanu Subba has always been one of the most talented athletes in ONE Championship's featherweight division, and at the promotion's next show, he'll be ready to remind the global fan base of that.
The Malaysian rising star will square off against Demetrious Johnson’s undefeated protege, James Yang (1-0), at "ONE: Eersel vs. Sadikovic" on Friday, April 22, and he is determined to earn a quick victory.
In fact, Subba (7-5) feels he has the upper hand in all areas of the game.
"I believe I'll have an advantage in the grappling department and also in the striking section," Subba said. "Obviously, experience will be the number one advantage that I have, and I think I'd do better at mixing it up than him. In short, I'd be better everywhere.
"I can finish him on the feet or the ground. If it goes to the ground, I'm even more confident of that finish."
To date, Subba has earned all of his career victories by either submission or knockout. Also, all six of his ONE Championship wins have ended in the opening frame.
That impressive statistic alone speaks volumes about the Malaysian rising star's ability to recognize an opponent's game plan before finding the quickest way to shut it down.
However, if things do not go as planned in his tilt against Yang, then Subba wants to be as dominant as possible and make the decision easy for the judges.
"I believe I'm a finisher," Subba said. "Every second or moment of the fight, I can finish the fight. That's my thing. If I don't get the finish, I just got to do my best. My job is to go out there and perform to my best abilities."
Yang won't be an easy nut to crack, though.
The 32-year-old lit up the global stage in his professional MMA debut at "ONE: Revolution" last September, where he ripped through Filipino athlete Roel Rosauro to earn a second-round TKO.
Though he trains alongside former 12-time flyweight world champion Johnson and the rest of the studs at AMC Pankration, Subba isn’t worried. That’s because the Malaysian knows it will be just him and Yang when the circle door closes.
“He’s training with the best in the world, man. Those guys are the best of the best. They know everything about the game," said Subba. "But at the end of the day, I’m fighting James Yang, not Demetrious Johnson.”
Subba determined to bounce back against Yang
Subba wants to secure a highlight-reel finish for one reason – to erase the memory of his last outing.
At "ONE: Reign of Dynasties II" in October 2020, the Malaysian was bested by Tang Kai, who is now the No. 1-ranked contender in the featherweight MMA division. That evening, the Chinese knockout artist controlled him throughout the 15-minute contest to pick up a unanimous decision.
To Subba's credit, it was his first match back since suffering a broken tibia and fibula during his tilt with Ryogo Takahashi in May 2019.
Moreover, the Malaysian suffered a leg injury in his fight with Tang during the first round, but he continued to battle through the pain for another 10 minutes.
Subba would love to settle the score with the Chinese superstar at some point.
But for now, he is solely focused on defeating Yang as quickly as possible so that he can wipe out the painful defeat to Tang from every fan’s mind.
"I felt bad for my performance the last time out," said Subba. "That was one of the most embarrassing performances in my life, and I had to do a lot of reviewing after the fight.
"My main motivation for this fight is to cancel out my performance in my last fight from everyone’s head. I just (want to) go out there, have fun, win, continue putting in better performances, and from there, we will see where we can go."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.