Banma Duoji won 14 of his first 15 fights with the closest thing to a blemish on his record a ‘no contest’. It is an achievement which very few mixed martial artists manage but the Chinese flyweight’s rise came before a fall.

Duoji has lost his last two fights and has not tasted victory in over three years. For a man who was not used to losing it has been a difficult period but he knows exactly what went  wrong and why,

“Because the last fight was my first fight in the ONE, I was too excited. In the first round, I was too excited. I didn’t allocate my energy correctly, which caused me problems.”

Necessary adjustments

He faded from the fight and was stopped by former ONE Championship strawweight champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuayshirichoke in the opening round. Duoji has had plenty of time to dwell on that defeat and says he has made the necessary adjustments,

“Since then, I have strengthened my physical training and I also (realized) my lack of ground wrestling skills so I have been strengthening them.”

He shouldn’t have to worry too much about ground wrestling next week. At ONE Fight Night 12 he faces Walter Goncalves, a Brazilian who comes from a Muay Thai background.

Goncalves will be competing in MMA for the first time and Duoji thinks he is simply too experienced for the Brazilian debutant,

“Although he is very strong standing this time we are fighting in MMA rules and I will show him my ground techniques. It’s just a normal fight for me, I have been training MMA for longer than him, and my standing skills are also good enough to cope with his.”

Training trip

Goncalves recently returned from Phuket to his native Brazil, where he has been preparing for this fight. Meanwhile Duoji has been spending time at Tiger Muay Thai ahead of his second ONE Championship appearance.

The Chinese fighter has been studying his opponent’s Muay Thai tapes extensively,

“I have seen videos of Walter Goncalves before. He has fought many world-class athletes, and his striking level is very high. But I have been training MMA for six years, especially wrestling and ground techniques. This year I am still strengthening my wrestling skills at Tiger Muay Thai.”

But while his opponent has outstanding striking credentials but Duoji believes he is the more well rounded of the two flyweights,

“He may be the strongest stand-up opponent I have faced in all my fights. But back to the rules, this time we’re fighting in MMA. I will have both stand-up and ground techniques, and I will combine them to deal with my opponent.”

Former champion

He came into ONE Championship with an outstanding record and was handed a winnable matchup against a former champion who was fast approaching retirement. But Duoji has not been seen since that knockout loss at the hands of Dejdamrong.

It means ONE Championship fans certainly haven’t seen the best of the 23 year old who will have a point to prove at Lumpinee Stadium next week,

“I have never stopped training. I hope to show my strength to my fans through this fight, so you could say this is a fight to prove myself.”