MALAYSIAN athlete Saiful “The Vampire” Merican had only one name in mind when asked to pick his favorite ONE World Champion.
He chose newly-crowned ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes, who just reclaimed the belt last month.
“There are very few World Champions like him,” Merican cited.
“When you see his attitude and how he carries himself in and outside of the cage, it inspires you to become a better athlete."
Merican has watched most of Moraes’ ONE Championship bouts, the last being his trilogy battle against Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio at ONE: HERO’S ASCENT on 25 January in Manila, Philippines.
After losing the belt via split decision to the Team Lakay representative in June, “Mikinho” was more determined than ever to recapture the gold.
Eustaquio’s striking and pace did cause some damage to Moraes, but his cage control, submission offense, and effective takedowns were enough to see him reclaim the coveted belt via unanimous decision.
“He’s not only a good sportsman, but also a very humble guy outside of the cage,” the 30-year-old Terengganu-born athlete added.
“As a sporting icon, there are lots of young kids or people who will look up [to you] and adore you. Moraes has this character.” BACA: 4 of Saiful Merican's favourite ONE Championship moments
Saiful said he can draw some similarities between Moraes’ nature and the moral values he learned throughout his time specializing in the art of eight limbs
“This sport is more than just fighting against each other. To me, it is very important to show a good example to people around you,” he said.
“You do not want to only be known as a champion in martial arts, but also a champion as a human being.”
These values will come to good use for “The Vampire” as he plots his return to action later this year.
His last appearance in The Home Of Martial Arts was in August 2017.
Injuries have kept him on the sidelines, but the bantamweight competitor is more than ready to reignite his career in 2019.
“It’s been too long, and I’m hungry for some game time,” he said. “I’ve made a promise to my family, fans, and students that I will make a return. Watch me do it.”
That is something all Malaysians will be eagerly awaiting.