In 2018 Ma Jia Wen established himself as one of ONE Championship’s top featherweights by extending his winning streak to four. The Chinese fighter appeared to be on the cusp of a title fight.

But he has not fought for 18 months, taking all of 2019 off. It’s been a lengthy absence but the 23 year old is determined to make up for lost time when he returns at ONE: ‘A New Tomorrow’,

“I am so ready. I am looking forward to making my return (and) I hope people still remember me.”

Wen faces Shinechagtga Zoltsetseg at the Impact Arena in Bangkok on Friday. He will be looking to pick up where he left off in 2018 and explains why it has been so long since he last fought,

“There have been a lot of things going on. I got married and I left the previous fight club and created my own. Also, my hands got injured, so I had a lot of things to focus on.”

Experienced opponent

Zoltsetseg forged his reputation with ONE Warrior Series. The Mongolian has fought five times since Wen was last in action, winning four of those bouts to earn a ONE Championship contract.

His win at OWS 6 least year brought him to the attention of the ONE Championship matchmakers and Wen has been studying his opponent closely,

“I have watched his fights and he is a great fighter. His power is great, his attack is strong and he is not an easy opponent,” he said.

“He has already competed in a lot of matches, so he has a lot of experience. Even though he has not fought on the ONE stage, he is still very experienced.”

Working hard

Wen is impressed by certain aspects of his opponent’s game but also sees some weaknesses which he could potentially exploit on Friday,

“His advantage is his boxing and footwork, and his mentality is very good as well. But his wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills are not that good. I am working very hard to be able to compete well against him. I think this will be a match fought with great skill.”

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Even though Wen has been away from competitive action for longer than he would have liked the Chinese fighter believes he has grown as a fighter an a man,

“It has been a while (but) I am growing and I now know how to deal with a lot of difficulties including mental and physical issues,” he states.

More exposure

He also thinks the outcome could depend on his state of mind. If Wen is in the right mood then he feels victory is a foregone conclusion.

“I hope I can win. I will not be afraid, and I will do my best. To me, winning is dependent on my heart. If I try my best, I will be more peaceful and there will be a better result.”

Regardless of the result in Bangkok he is adamant there won’t be another lengthy absence from the competitive stage,

“I want to fight more, and I want to get more exposure, improve my skills, and continue to bring wonderful matches to the fans.”