He edged Malaysian rival Ev “E.T.” Ting in a razor-thin split-decision that divided the fans inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Khan – who trains out of Evolve – had some early moments that got the crowd buzzing, including crisp strikes and spinning elbows in the first two rounds. But the mood was dampened by his pallid demeanor in the third round.
While being stalked by Ting, Khan avoided contact and spent most of the final round on the back foot, only throwing the occasional counter when the opportunity presented itself.
At the post-event media scrum, ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong expressed disappointment in Khan’s performance.
“Chatri knows me as a fighter and he knows I’m capable of more, and he felt that I only showed 20 to 30 percent of what I was capable of,” Khan said.
“So, I understand why he didn’t feel like I went in there trying to fight at my best.”
Even in victory, Khan knows there are lessons to be learned, so it was hard for him to fully savor the win knowing he could have done more.
“I came into this fight very conservative. I had an idea of how it was supposed to play out going into my favor. I thought I did well, but the only thing missing was my offense,” he said.
“I was a bit lacking in that last round. I was playing it too safe for this fight, because in my mind, I just wanted to get a win, and it didn’t matter to me how I would get it.”
The Singaporean’s lack of offensive output in the third round allowed Ting – who wore most of the damage – to inch his way back into the contest with some late aggressive striking.
But Khan saw things differently in the ring.
“Yes, he was initiating by moving forward, but his overall volume wasn’t that much more compared to mine,” Khan said.
“The only difference was that he was moving forward constantly while I was moving backwards.
“If you take that out of the equation, our volume was pretty much equal. He was waiting for me, and I was waiting for him.”
As one of the lightweight division’s most reputable finishers, Khan is not one to leave things to the judges. Although the knockout did not come in this bout, he believes he did enough to warrant the win.
“Yes, it was a close fight, but when I looked at the footage, there was no way I could have lost the fight because of the ONE Championship scoring criteria,” he said.
“Number one they give to scoring is for a near KO or submission. Number two is damage inflicted. Number three is control – like ground control, takedowns, offense, and defense. Lastly, number four is aggression.
“I feel I got ahead in number two. Ting had the upper hand in aggression [number four]. During our grappling exchanges, even when he got me down, he wasn’t able to do much damage. I was defensively sound on the ground.”
Based on his estimates, even though he opted for caution in the last round, the Evolve representative believes he edged “E.T.” in total damage output.
“I felt like we were pretty equal everywhere else and since I caused more overall damage, I thought I won the fight,” Khan said.
Aware of the public sentiment surrounding his win, the Singaporean is more than happy to set the record straight with his Malaysian rival and welcomes the idea of a rematch.
“I spoke to Ting after [the bout] and told him let’s run it back. We had a chat and I congratulated him on the birth of his daughter, and he told me to go enjoy time with my son and see where things go from here,” Khan said.
“We definitely gave each other respect after the fight.
“I know it was a super close fight, and I think Ting probably also felt he didn’t manage to showcase what he was fully capable of. Likewise, for me too, so I’m sure we will definitely run it back soon.”
ONE Championship returns to Kuala Lumpur for the final show of 2019 with ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS.
Catch the preliminary card on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the ONE Super App at 6:00pm Singapore Standard Time (SGT).
To watch the main card, tune-in to Toggle at 8:30pm SGT.
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