5-fight UFC vet Leandro Issa explains why he's glad to be back in ONE Championship

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When Leandro Issa steps in the cage in Macau on Saturday, it will be for the first time in nearly a year.

It also will be for the first time for ONE Championship in more than four years. In the time since he most recently fought for the promotion, way back at ONE Championship 8 in 2013, Issa was busy – just not busy enough.

The Brazilian, based in Asia for nearly a decade, fought five times under the UFC banner, going 2-3. But he said the frequency of his fights in the world’s preeminent promotion was not up to his standards – which is why he’s glad to be back for ONE Championship.

“Fighting in the UFC was my dream,” Issa told MMAjunkie. “I had a great experience there. I lost some and I won some. But in the last two years there, I wasn’t too happy. They only booked me once a year. I was training, never hurt, always asking to fight. I only had two fights in the last two years. It’s bad for a fighter’s career.

“It was great to fight in the greatest promotion in the world, and to fight in Brazil and in Las Vegas, which were also dreams of mine. But now I feel happy to be back at ONE Championship.”

Issa (13-6) on Saturday takes on Toni Tauru (11-5-1) in a bantamweight bout at “ONE Championship 58: Kings & Conquerors,” which takes place at Cotai Arena in Macau, China. The card streams via online pay-per-view in North America.

Issa’s tenure in the UFC started out strong enough. He fought three times for the promotion in 2014, including back-to-back submission wins. But after he tapped Yuta Sasaki at UFC Fight Night 58 in December 2014, he waited till August 2015 for a fight against Iuri Alcantara at UFC 190 in Brazil. Then he waited another 13 months to fight Taylor Lapilus at UFC Fight Night 93. He lost both those final two by decision.

Now he’s had another lengthy time on the shelf – 11 months ahead of the fight with Tauru. It hasn’t been for lack of trying to get booked, though, and the result is his meeting with Tauru, a Finnish fighter who has dropped four of his past five fights.

Issa lives in Singapore and teaches jiu-jitsu at Evolve MMA – where he said he trains with 10 Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts. It’s not exactly a home game for him in Macau, but he expects plenty of support from the Asian MMA fans.

“My preparation has been great,” Issa said. “His strong point is jiu-jitsu; so is mine. So I feel it will be a great fight. I’ve been training a lot of muay Thai. … I’m very focused on this fight. Hopefully I can fight one more time this year. Ultimately, my goal is the championship belt, but we’re taking it one step at a time.”

For more on ONE Championship 58, check out the MMA Rumorssection of the site.

Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie