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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Malaysian MMA star ready to hit next gear

Gianni Subba grapples with Almiro Barros at ONE: Tigers of Asia in Kuala Lumpur on October 9.
Gianni Subba grapples with Almiro Barros at ONE: Tigers of Asia in Kuala Lumpur on October 9. ONE

Malaysian MMA star ready to hit next gear

ONE Championship top flyweight prospect Gianni Subba (6-1) will climb back into the cage at next weekend’s eagerly anticipated ONE: Kingdom of Khmer at Koh Pich Theater here in Phnom Penh, looking to kick his mixed martial arts career into the next gear.

The Kuala Lumpur native is set to face off against Anatpong Bunrad (5-1) in what is expected to be an intense matchup of high-level strikers.

Subba, one of the country’s most promising young fighters, is fast climbing the ONE flyweight division.

At just 22 years of age, he has already accomplished much in the sport and is well on his way to becoming a formidable mixed martial artist, one who can represent the country for years to come.

Subba debuted professionally at 19 years old in impressive fashion, with a 30-second knockout of Bruce Loh who was much more experienced than he was.

He continued to excite fans in succeeding bouts, including last March, when he broke his own record and knocked out opponent Thanh “Aladdin” Vu in just 20 seconds from the opening bell.

Now Subba, with seven professional bouts under his belt, looks to advance his career and improve his record against his toughest opponent yet.

Subba, who is of Nepali-Chinese heritage, will take on Bunrad, himself of Belgian and Thai descent, on December 5 in one of many feature bouts taking place on Koh Pich.

“I have been to Cambodia – it is a very enchanting place, so much culture and history. Angkor Wat was my favourite thing but the food comes in a close second,” Subba said.

Despite the festivities, needless to say, the young warrior is ready as always.

“I train all year round and I am always in decent shape. I took this fight against Mak Bunrad because I wanted to test myself against the best in the division and also to prove that Malaysians can fight at a high level,” Subba said.

Bunrad was originally scheduled to face Riku Shibuya but the Japanese veteran suffered an injury during training and was forced to pull out of the fight. Subba, who was called in as a short-notice replacement, had no hesitation filling in the gap.

“I know that [Bunrad] is very well rounded in all aspects, but I have made vast improvements in my game during my time training at Bali MMA, so wherever this fight goes, I will be ready,” Subba said.

Bunrad is coming off a tough split-decision victory over former title challenger Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, and is a winner of his last three bouts.

To say that Subba will have his hands full with Bunrad is a massive understatement.

His Thai opponent is a highly skilled striking specialist and, with three knockouts and a submission win on his record, is also capable of finishing a fight at any given moment.

But Subba overcame a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist in his last outing, outpointing Almiro Barros to win by a unanimous decision.

“The fight [against Barros] was a great learning experience for me because it was my first win via decision. It was good to get the time inside the cage. I felt comfortable,” Subba said.

“I could have done some things better, but I have been working on it in the gym and should be able to adjust for this fight.

I’m looking to beat the names that people know, to put myself out there and perform, and make my family and supporters proud.”

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