Leandro Ataides is a BJJ black belt but he has more than a few knockout wins on his record. In fact the Brazilian hasn’t won any of his eight ONE Championship fights by submission.

Ataides has some devastating stoppage wins on his resume and he thinks the combination of a grappling and a striking threat is what makes him such a dangerous opponent,

“I’m not saying I’m not good at striking, I am good, but for me, I have more chances than (my opponent) because if nothing is working, I can also go into the ground game,” he said.

Super strong

Ataides faces Aung La Nsang at ONE: ‘Battleground’ next Friday and he believes that his opponent’s striking is the best in the division,

“He’s a super-strong striker. In the middleweight and light heavyweight division, he is the leader,” he said.

Having won his first two ONE Championship fights with devastating first round KOs Ataides would like to demonstrate that he still has that type of finishing ability in his locker,

“I love to strike with someone, and I know he can come with a strike for me. I would like to put on a good show. He has good hands, strong punches, and I guess this is a nice chance to test myself to see how I am with my striking.”

Ready for anything

The Brazilian doesn’t have to get sucked into a striking match if he doesn’t want to though. He knows that he will be at an advantage on the ground,

“He just has the strikes and then his weakness is the ground game, so for me, it doesn’t matter if I tried to strike and then we had to go to the ground. This is my home.”

Ataides also points out that the gulf in BJJ experience between him and La Nsang is far too great for the Burmese middleweight to close the gap during the course of a single fight camp.

“It takes years and years of practice for it to become muscle memory. I don’t think he’s going to fight with me in the ground game, but it’s a fight. Everything can happen. I’m ready for it.”

Super exciting

They had been set to meet in a middleweight title fight in 2018 but the timing didn’t work out for Ataides. While this won’t be a title match he is still excited to finally be sharing a cage with La Nsang,

“For me, this is super exciting. I was supposed to face him three years ago, and now this is the time to fight against him. Even though it is not for the title, I’m excited to fight against him. He’s a great icon of his country and mixed martial arts. I have such respect for him.”

Ataides recently spent time training with Reinier de Ridder in Holland. The Dutchman is a former opponent of his and recently beat La Nsang twice but he describes the decision to train with him as just ‘business’.

First fighter

De Ridder was able to comprehensively outwrestle La Nsang in the rematch having submitted him in the first fight. In doing so he arguably set a blueprint for beating the Burmese star, just take him down and keep him down.

That is easier said than done but Ataides is not convinced he will need takedowns to win the fight. The Brazilian wants to become the first fighter to knock La Nsang out since 2013,

“I think I can win in the second round. This is my goal. I want to finish it. I know it’s going to be hard to strike with him, I never saw someone knock him out. Maybe this is my chance to knock him out.”