August 18, 2022

KEY POINTS

  • Bokang Masunyane shares the story behind his “Little Big” moniker
  • The South African returns to motion at ONE 159 on Friday, July 22
  • He’s set to tackle a fellow ranked strawweight in Hiroba Minowa

Not each competitor in blended martial arts (MMA) has a compelling moniker and a charming narrative to associate with it, however Bokang Masunyane is among the few who has each an engrossing nickname and an excellent higher story to inform about it.

Masunyane is called “Little Big,” an alias that owns an incredible recall and goes approach again when nobody exterior of his hometown in Johannesburg, South Africa knew who he was.

It was given to him by his grade faculty trainer named Mr. Venter in one in every of their classroom actions on account of his brilliance as a student-athlete at a younger age.

Bokang Masunyane Picture: ONE Championship picture

“I just like the nickname ‘Little Big.’ Once I was at school, one in every of my academics informed me that he needs to write down a e-book about my life story referred to as ‘Little Big,’” the No. 2-ranked strawweight in ONE Championship informed Worldwide Enterprise Occasions sports activities editor and fight sports activities analyst Nissi Icasiano.

“I noticed that I’m not going to be the largest individual round, however I didn’t see that as a drawback. I used to be at all times a prime performer in any type of sports activities that I performed. My measurement didn’t matter.”

The 5-foot-1 standout began out as a soccer participant like most children in his dwelling nation, however he found his love for fight sports activities when he joined the college’s wrestling staff at seven years outdated.

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Regardless of his diminutive bodily stature, Masunyane discovered success on the wrestling mat together with his dynamic takedowns and smothering prime management.

Bokang Masunyane battles Ryuto Sawada Bokang Masunyane battles Ryuto Sawada Picture: ONE Championship picture

“I simply made certain that I labored onerous in something I did. I used my top to a bonus, and I someway at all times seemed to outwork my opponents. It labored out effectively for me. They knew that they had been going to have a tricky time going in opposition to me,” he shared.

“I used to be recognized for throwing my opponents round. I used to be this small man wrestling in opposition to guys twice my measurement, and I at all times throw them on their heads.”

After bowing out within the quarterfinal spherical of the 57-kilogram males’s freestyle bracket on the 2014 Commonwealth Video games in Glasgow, Scotland, Masunyane determined to hold up each his singlet and boots for good and shifted his give attention to a path to turning into a trainer like Mr. Venter.

Nonetheless, he had a change of coronary heart when he was invited to an MMA coaching by an in depth pal.

“I’ve at all times been fascinated with MMA, and I believed that I’m adequate for it. I’ve at all times been able to put within the work in any sport I did,” Masunyane said. “I truthfully took an opportunity with doing MMA, however as quickly as I began coaching, I actually loved it. I noticed I used to be good at it. I knew this was what I needed to do.”

When he made his first stride into the novice ranks in September 2015, Masunyane by no means needed to assume so onerous for a sobriquet to make use of in his new profession.

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“I believed it’d be an incredible concept to make use of the nickname ‘Little Big’ as my struggle title. I’m not the largest man in my weight class, however I certainly struggle like an enormous. My combating type says all of it,” he confused.

After racking up six consecutive victories in lower than a 12 months as an novice competitor, Masunyane turned professional and was completely dominant as he aced his 5 cage assignments underneath the banner of Excessive Combating Championship Worldwide with flying colours.

Although a knee damage put him out of fee for almost all of 2018, his return to motion was nothing in need of outstanding as he cruised to a lopsided unanimous win over Yusuke Ogikubo at Pancrase 307 in July 2019.

The triumph in opposition to Ogikubo paved the best way for the South African to get seen by ONE Championship, the place he made his promotional debut in December 2019 by scoring a clear-cut unanimous choice victory over Japanese spitfire Ryuto Sawada.

He adopted it up with a highlight-reel efficiency by knocking out former title contender Rene Catalan of the Philippines in simply 37 seconds with a head kick in December 2020.

His final three spectacular outings landed him a strawweight world title eliminator in opposition to UFC veteran Jarred Brooks this previous April, however sadly for Masunyane, he yielded to the American submission specialist through first-round rear-naked choke and tasted his first profession defeat.

On Friday, July twenty second, he will probably be given an opportunity to redeem himself and wash away the bitter style of defeat.

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On the upcoming ONE 159 in Singapore, Masunyane is penciled to lock horns with the No. 3-graded Hiroba Minowa in a three-round encounter on the primary card.

Bokang Masunyane Bokang Masunyane Picture: ONE Championship

“It was a tough tablet for me to swallow having my first loss. It’s one thing I am going over in my head and perceive that I don’t wish to occur once more,” he mentioned in a latest interview.

“That loss gave me an additional drive in coaching. I’ve even labored even more durable, so that is in all probability going to be the most effective form I’ve ever been in main as much as a struggle.”

Masunyane vows to go away no stone unturned as he goals to get again on monitor within the race to safe a date with the winner of the bout between Brooks and reigning division kingpin Joshua Pacio.

“For me, it’s at all times desirous to struggle the most effective fighters on the earth. And ONE Championship has obtained the most effective strawweight fighters on the earth. I’m happy that they gave me somebody inside the prime 5, so I can nonetheless declare my rating in the best approach,” he talked about.

“I’m right here to show to my division that I’m the most effective on the earth. I’ll show to the remainder of the world watching ONE Championship that I’m right here to remain. I’m right here to develop into a world champion.”

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