From the Nogueira brothers to the Pettis brothers there is a long history of siblings enjoying success in MMA. In Malaysia one featherweight is hoping his family name can be added to this distinguished list as he prepares to make his ONE Championship debut.
Keanu Subba is facing Florian Garel at ONE: ‘Tigers of Asia’ this Friday night and his older brother Gianni will also be fighting on the same card. It’s the first time they have ever been in action on the same night and the younger Subba sibling says he’s almost as worried about his brother’s fight as his own.
“It’s kind of stressful because I want him to do his best but I can’t really focus on him, I have to focus on myself because I have my own fight. So it’s tough but it’s going to be good fighting on the same card as my brother.”
Keanu is just 21 years old and last year he stopped four opponents, all in the opening round, to become the MIMMA featherweight champion. He elected to turn pro rather than defend his title but says the memory of winning that tournament is one he will always cherish.
“That was one of the best feelings ever because it was great competing against the best in Malaysia. But I’m ready to compete against the best in the world with ONE Championship.”
His brother is a couple of years older than him and already has a pro record of 5-1 with all six of those fights taking place under the ONE Championship banner. Keanu was actually the first to fight professionally, taking on a much older opponent at a small show in Kuala Lumpur when he was just 16.
Four years later and Subba is a completely different fighter from the one who stepped up as a 16-year-old to take on an opponent 20 years his senior. He’s trained at some of the most renowned camps in the region and has been preparing for this fight at Bali Muay Thai & MMA.
ONE Championship flyweight Andrew Leone has been a long term trainer and mentor to both Subba brothers and Keanu has been in Bali to prepare for his first fight for Asia’s biggest MMA organisation.
“I’ve been learning a lot. I feel like I’ve improved a whole lot. You see people coming from all over the world and they’re fighting for ONEFC and you get to train with them. It’s crazy.”
He’s also been taking some tips in training from his brother who is preparing to face Almiro Barros at Stadium Putra on Friday night.
“Gianni like to tells me what I’m doing wrong and it motivates me to learn from my mistakes and strive for greatness. MMA means everything to me. It’s my job, it’s a life style to me and it’s something I want to be the best at.”
The only drawback of both Subba brothers fighting on the same card is it means for once Keanu won’t have Gianni’s familiar face in his corner.
“This time around he (Gianni) won’t be in my corner because he’s going to be backstage preparing too but it still feels great to be able to compete with him on the same card.”
Keanu holds an amateur record of 6-1 and a pro record of 1-1 but he says he has been training and competing in martial arts since long before he made his MMA debut.
“My brother loves combat sports, I love combat sports, my sister did a little combat sports, I’ve been training in combat sports for about ten years now. We started competing when we were young with Taekwondo. We like to compete.”
Keanu has the skills to compete inside the ONE Championship cage and he is not short of ambition either. The Malaysian might be at the beginning of his MMA career but he knows exactly what he wants to achieve.
“My ultimate goal with ONE Championship is to leave a legacy behind and prove to the world that Asia fighters can hang with the best in the world.”