Relaxation the key for Amir Khan
Singapore's MMA exponent aims to end three-bout losing run by letting himself loose
Singapore mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Amir Khan, who has spent the last six months reflecting on his three-loss run, believes he has the answer to get back to winning ways - keeping his mind and body relaxed.
Today, it will be key to his fight against Malaysia's Ev Ting at One Championship's Edge of Greatness event at the Indoor Stadium.
The 25-year-old has been meditating up to three times a day for 10 to 15 minutes a session.
He has also tried to "spar loose", saying: "It's almost like playing the (arcade) game Street Fighter, I just do whatever move I feel I want to do and just have fun.
"After all, MMA is my passion and, if I'm not having fun, what's the point?"
Before the losses - the last against Turkish grappler Saygid Arslanaliev - he racked up an impressive 11 wins, with 10 via knockout or submission, in 14 fights.
That earned him a shot at the lightweight title last November.
But Khan, who made his professional debut in 2014, suffered a unanimous-decision loss to Filipino Eduard Folayang in the title bout.
This was followed by defeats by Costa Rica's Ariel Sexton in February and Arslanaliev two months later, both in One's lightweight grand prix tournament.
The setbacks left him reeling. A return to the drawing board made him realise his approach had changed because he wanted to live up to his billing as a knockout artist.
He explained: "Everyone started expecting it from me, so I thought I had to go into fights all intense, aggressive and go in for the kill.
"I got carried away. People couldn't really see it, but I felt tension throughout my body. And that's not how I perform. I am at my best when I'm relaxed and loose."
Angela Lee, his teammate at the Evolve MMA gym where he trains, believes he has what it takes to rebound. The women's atomweight champion is in town to support her husband Bruno Pucci, who will face Japan's Shuya Kamikubo in the Edge of Greatness undercard.
Lee, who halted her own two-fight skid by retaining her title against China's Xiong Jingnan in Tokyo last month, said: "I can speak from experience that losses can get a fire going in you, that maybe you wouldn't have if you were on a winning streak.
"I know the losses were hard for Amir to deal with... and it sounds like he has managed to take the time to clear his head.
"He's looking to end the year on a good note."
Khan is relishing the shot at Ting, 30, who has 17 wins and six losses.
He said: "I'm expecting him to bring fireworks. He's a tough, durable guy and I expect he will come try and tear my head off.
"But I'm hungry for redemption and, this time, I've had time to prepare for a specific opponent and come up with a specific game plan.
"People will see that the Amir in the last few fights, and the Amir on Friday night, will be completely different."