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5 Things You Might Not Know About Leandro Issa


Leandro Issa may soon know whether or not the game has passed him by.

The 39-year-old Brazilian will return to the cage for the first time in more than three years and do so under the auspices of One Championship when he meets the once-beaten Artem Belakh in a ONE 162 bantamweight prelim on Friday at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Issa has rattled off four victories across his past six outings. However, he has not competed since Daichi Takenaka put him away with punches in the third round of their ONE “Dawn of Heroes” encounter on Aug. 2, 2019.

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As Issa makes final preparations ahead of his upcoming showdown with Belakh at 145 pounds, here are five things you might not know about him:

1. He leans heavily on his origins.


A decorated and experienced Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Issa struck gold at the prestigious Mundials in 2004 and soon after shifted his attention to mixed martial arts. He has optimized his ground skills in the full-contact fighting world, where he has delivered 11 of his 17 professional victories by submission.

2. Failure has played a role in his development.


Issa fought for the inaugural ONE bantamweight championship in October 2012, when he succumbed to punches from Soo Chul Kim in the second round of their “Rise of Kings” co-feature. Kim proved to be little more than a placeholder in the division, as he surrendered the title to Bibiano Fernandes in his first assignment as champion.

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3. He reached the supposed promised land.


“Brodinho” compiled a 2-3 record during a hit-or-miss stint in the Ultimate Fighting Championship between Jan. 4, 2014 and Sept. 3, 2016, his wins over Jumabieke Tuerxun and Yuta Sasaki offset by losses to Russell Doane, Iuri Alcantara and Taylor Lapilus. Issa earned $100,000 in post-fight bonuses from the promotion before his departure.

4. Preparation takes him far away from his homeland.


Issa operates out of the Singapore-based Evolve MMA outfit fronted by former Olympic wrestler Heath Sims and owned by One Championship founder Chatri Sityodtong. Shinya Aoki, Christian Lee, Ben Askren and Jingnan Xiong are among the many mixed martial artists who have spent considerable time training at the camp.

5. His passport features a variety of stamps.


The well-traveled Issa has fought in nine different countries during his 25-fight career. In addition to his native Brazil, he has competed in the United States, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Germany, Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines.Benjamin Wilhelm vs Ruslan Emilbek Uulu
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