After experiencing his dream of fighting in Brazil, Leandro “Brodinho” Issa has returned to ONE Championship with intentions to claim the title he once came so close to winning.
In his first appearance under the ONE Championship banner in four years, “Brodinho” successfully beat down Toni Tauru at ONE: Kings and Conquerors before finishing him early in the second round. It was an impressive performance from Issa, who returned to the organization after a five-fight career in the UFC.
But now, in a full circle, Issa re-signed to ONE Championship, an organization that he helped kick-start considering his involvement in the first-ever bout in the promotion’s history back at ONE FC 1 in 2011.
Leandro Issa spoke to The Body Lock about his experience in both promotions and detailed his preparation for his upcoming opponent, Dae Hwan Kim, at ONE: Immortal Pursuit.
At home in Singapore
While Issa might not have enjoyed complete success in the UFC, winning two of his five fights in the organization, he explained that he was able to fulfill one of his dreams:
“I had a dream to fight in Brazil and I was able to fight there twice with the UFC,” Issa commented.
“The energy is different in Brazil. The people there are very loud. All of my family could go and watch. It’s hard to compare [with Singapore], it was a great experience as well.”
Despite this, it’s clear that Issa enjoys being back in ONE Championship considering that it is so close to his new home. Issa moved to Singapore in January 2009 to join Evolve MMA and has instructed and learned with the many world championships at Evolve since.
“It’s good to be back because ONE Championship is a Singapore show. All of their shows are around Asia. I’ve been here for a long time already, so all my friends can watch the fight.”
The added benefit is that he and the other athletes at Evolve MMA will be working together closely in the lead-up to ONE: Immortal Pursuit.
“My teammates will be fighting on the same card and this means that we can prepare together. I really feel at home here in Singapore and it’s good to be back.”
Ready for any opponent
Leandro Issa was originally scheduled to face Andrew Leone this weekend at ONE: Immortal Pursuit. However, after Leone declared that he was unable to meet “Brodinho” this time, ONE Championship offered up a replacement in Dae Hwan Kim.
Kim, who has previously competed in ONE Championship, worked his way up to challenging Bibiano Fernandes for the ONE Bantamweight World Championship before being submitted in the second round.
However, Kim had strangely disappeared from mixed martial arts after October 2015, despite one strange comeback fight with Woo Gyu Kang (0-0) at All FC in Seoul in May this year.
Issa stated that his game plan “has changed a bit”, in preparation for Kim rather than Leone but declared that he is ready for any opponent:
“I’ve been training since February. I just fought in August and after August, I took one week off and started training again.”
“Brodinho” also believes that a win against the former title challenger will make him next in line for a shot at Bibiano Fernandes and the ONE Bantamweight World Championship.
“Kim is a good name to beat. He will push me up there to fight for a title. He has already fought for a title. My last opponent has already fought for a title already, too. A big win against Kim will give me the opportunity to fight for the title.”
As for how Leandro Issa envisions his upcoming contest:
“I will try to play my game, you know. I will start to see the distance and then my game plan is to put him down. I’ve been doing BJJ for a long time, so I feel very comfortable on the ground. If I put him down and grind him, hopefully I can make him make a mistake and try to submit him.”
Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.