As the ONE Super Series expands opportunities have arisen for more and more fighters to show their style and skills at the highest of levels.

With the promotion set to introduce a strawweight division the doors have opened for lighter fighters to compete in the ONE Super Series. England’s Andy Howson is a fighter with the perfect style to shine and he is set to compete this year.

Howson has been around the sport for just over 20 years now and has been in some of the most memorable battles the UK scene has ever seen. He is known for his aggressive, uncompromising style and has won five world titles in his career so far, the highlight being the WBC bantamweight title.

Howson has trained and fought out of the renowned Bad Company gym in Leeds his entire career alongside his cousin, Liam Harrison. It was through this family connection that the opportunity arose to sign with ONE,

“It’s crazy how this has all come about, I cornered Liam last year when he made his ONE debut against Petchmorrakot Petchyindeeacademy. I was in the locker room with the staff involved in matching and finding fighters and they congratulated me on my last  fight and basically said they wasn’t aware I was back fighting again and that they would have to get me on next.”

Unexpected opportunity

For Howson it was an opportunity that he never expected to arise,

“I couldn’t believe it and instantly just couldn’t wait to be a part of it all. It was a dream come true but I didn’t take it 100% seriously at the time. When we went out to China for Liam to fight Rotlek I was talking to them again and they told me that they were pushing for the smaller weight division and to get myself back in shape and ready.”

With the strawweight division set to launch Howson finally received a contract offer,

“About a week or so later I received a message from ONE telling me they wanted to sign me on a six fight deal and that was that I signed the contract that day and have been back fight training every day since getting ready.”

Howson is another fighter proving the point that age can be just a number. Mentally he is as sharp as ever but some minor adjustments do have to be made on the physical side,

“I’m no spring chicken so I have had to slightly adjust things and train a little differently nowadays. I’ve been solely training people since my last fight so actually training myself is a big adjustment to my body. I don’t have a problem mentally and my mindset is the same as when I was like 18 or 19 (but) I do have to remind myself that I am older now and break myself in a little slower.”

Fighting fit

He doesn’t have a date for his ONE Super Series debut yet but Howson is already fighting fit and ready to go,

“I’m three weeks into hard training now though and feeling good, the weight’s back down and I’m getting back in shape so I’m excited to hear about who has been signed and when will the first fight be and against who.”

For inspiration Howson doesn’t have to look too far. He wants to follow the example of Australian Muay Thai fighter John Wayne Parr who is set to compete at Rizin 18 next month,

“JWP is still going strong at a tender 43 years of age, so I’ve at least three years in me yet. This contract is for six fights so let’s see how these go and how my body holds up first.”

With a formula that combines various combat sports ONE Championship has been able to bring Muay Thai to very big live audiences. Howson has seen it first hand when cornering his cousin and is excited to fight in front of these huge crowds,

“I’ve been in the sport over 20 years now and I’ve seen it progress and get bigger and bigger. My first 10-15 fights were in little night clubs and sports halls with about 200 people max there. Now there’s shows in the UK and around the world that can draw in big crowds with 3-4000 people in attendance and then there is obviously ONE who are packing out huge arenas of like 15-20,000 people and live streamed across the world to millions.”

Big stage

Howson has been to ONE events in China and Malaysia and it is fair to say he was impressed.

“I’ve been lucky enough to take Liam and corner him twice now on two ONE Championship events and each one has blown my mind. From how the fighters are looked after and promoted to the production and how professional the show is, it’s just another level and there isn’t a martial arts promotion in the world that comes close to it.”

Howson has faced many of the sport’s biggest names in his time, from a thrilling trilogy with his countryman Damien Trainor to battles with top level Thais such as Rungrawee Sasiprapa.

He has no real standout opponents that he still wants to face, but is determined to bring his trademark warrior style to ONE for as long as he can,

“I will stand and bang with whoever is put in front of me. I’m just excited to be given a chance to compete on the biggest stage in the world and showcase what I can do even at 40 years old. I’m committed to this and putting everything I have into it and showing that I can still stand with the best in the world. What a stage I have to do it on!”