Hiroba Minowa is coming off a successful ONE Championship debut. He has been handed a shot against a former champion and will be facing a familiar opponent at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Minowa has been matched with Alex Silva at ONE: ‘Fists of Fury’ Part III which is being broadcast this Friday. The former Shooto strawweight champion says the Brazilian has been on his radar for several years,

“All the Japanese fighters have fought against him so I had heard his name a lot and in February 2020, I had a chance to train at Evolve MMA. At that time, I took a class of Silva’s and he was an incredibly nice guy.”

Balanced fighter

The 21 year old was there as a student rather than a rival and says he picked up some tips from Silva,

“It wasn’t as serious as sparring, but we practiced our ground skills. I didn’t understand a lot of English, but I was paired up with Silva, and he taught me directly. I thought he was amazing. I didn’t understand the language, but amazingly, he was still able to teach me techniques.”

He thinks Silva is a top fighter as well as being a good teacher,

“I think his ground skills are among the best in the world in the strawweight division (so) I’m very wary of that. He is known for his ground game, but he also has striking skills. He is a balanced fighter who can do a lot of things.”

No quit

Having scored a split decision win over Lito Adiwang at ONE: ‘Inside the Matrix’ Part III he is hoping to win in more emphatic fashion this week,

“I want a stoppage this time. Last time, I was more focused on winning than on how to win. I wanted to go home with a victory no matter what the outcome was, but this time, I want to go home with a stoppage victory.”

He got caught in a kimura during the first round of that fight. It looked deep but Minowa said he was never going to tap,

“I went into that fight as the current Shooto Champion and a representative of the Japanese strawweight division, so tapping in the first round was not an option.”

Indomitable spirit

Silva is 17 years his senior and has been on the ONE Championship roster since 2012. There is plenty of footage for Minowa to review and he has been poring over it trying to find holes in his opponent’s game,

“I’m going through a lot of different preparations. His ground game is unique, so I am studying that (but) his striking is strong too so I’m trying to find his weaknesses.”

Both men have exactly 14 fights on their record and neither of them has ever been stopped. So while Minowa is doing his homework on Silva he is also confident in his own ability,

“I’m always working on my strength which is my takedown ability and my indomitable spirit.”

That indomitable spirit was tested to the limit by Adiwang. Minowa will be hoping it can get him through his second ONE Championship fight and should he emerge victorious the Japanese fighter will be a serious contender for the strawweight crown.