Adrian Pang warns ONE Championship lightweights to beware the old man
Adrian Pang turns 42 this year. But the Australian is still going strong in ONE Championship’s lightweight division and will be looking to secure a second successive win this Friday night.
Pang has been matched with UFC veteran Kazuki Tokudome at ONE: ‘Warriors of Light’. His career has had more downs than ups in recent years but the veteran is coming off a stoppage win and is determined to make it two in a row,
“It was really good to get that win over Shimoishi in my last ONE Championship bout. I am looking forward to testing Tokudome. I don’t talk with my mouth, but I do talk with my hands, and people know that,” he said.
Pang is not what you would call a tactical fighter. He likes to pressure opponents, force them to engage and see what happens. Sometimes it produces a wild brawl, other times he ends up chasing fighters who are determined to avoid him around the ring or cage.
A four fight losing skid might have been seen as evidence that Father Time has finally caught up with Pang. But there were extenuating circumstances behind two of those losses,
“I came up short in my past four bouts. They were close, but I strongly believe I won two of those against (Honorio) Banario and (Roger) Huerta and I’m sure they and their teams believe that too.”
The Huerta fight was close, but the Banario bout will go down as perhaps the worst decision in ONE Championship history. Sometimes you need a little bit of luck and Pang is entitled to feel he wasn’t getting it.
However things are looking much brighter for Pang after a stoppage win against Shimoishi at ONE: ‘Heart of the Lion’ last year. The 42 year old signed for the promotion with a big reputation, as a former Legend FC lightweight champion who had been in with some of the best fighters in the division.
No easy fights
Pang feels that this reputation has preceded him and ensures he never gets handed anything resembling an easy fight,
“It’s hard when you are fighting the best guys and not getting the same opportunities as the young guys do to stay on top, but I feel great, and I’m looking forward to fighting Tokudome,” he said.
His opponent is coming off a KO loss at the hands of 20 year old prodigy Christian Lee. It’s not a feeling Pang is particularly familiar with since he hasn’t been stopped since 2006 and does not expect to encounter anything he hasn’t seen before at the Impact Arena on Friday,
“He is a southpaw, which is fine as I have fought a lot of southpaws, and he is tall. I have no problems with that either as Shimoishi is the only guy I have ever fought who was shorter than me.”
Coming to fight
Three of his last five defeats have been by way of split decision so the Australian is understandably wary of opponents who are aiming to go the distance and take their chances with the judges,
“My opponents know I am coming to fight, so they are either going to fight against me, or they are going to start running around. I hope he tries to fight me (because) I believe I have the durability and I can take the punishment, so I want to test him and test his chin.”
Tokudome had a brief stint with the UFC and is a former lightweight King of Pancrase. The Japanese fighter has also been the distance with Jadambaa Narantungalag, an experience he and Pang have in common.
“He’s a very experienced opponent, he’s very tough, and he has a lot of skill (but) I do believe I’ll knock him out if he stands in the pocket with me,” Pang said.
Pang’s longevity is not unprecedented but it’s certainly not normal. He’s approaching his 20th year as a professional and warns ONE Championship’s lightweights to beware the senior citizen in the division,
“You have to be wary of an old man in a sport where men die young.”
Tokudome is a decade the junior of Pang but the Australian’s days of looking across the ring or cage and seeing a younger opponent are probably over. Logic dictates that he can’t carry on competing at the elite level forever, but at ONE: ‘Warriors of Light’ the veteran will be looking to show he’s still got plenty of fight in him.