A re-energized Arnaud Lepont steps into the ONE cage once again

Arnaud Lepont doesn’t have the best relationship with ONE Championship. That’s no secret. In fact, at a certain point, he felt that he was no longer part of the organization.

“Me and ONE Championship, we had some back-and-forth relationship, and it’s kind of complicated.” He tells DojoDrifter.com. “I mean, we have two different visions of making the fight business.”

Lepont says he’s always enjoyed the rush of fighting, but the harsh realities of the business often disappoint him. Before fighters march under the bright lights, they sacrifice their bodies in the gym in training, hoping that their next performance in the cage will get them noticed by top promotions and sponsors. There’s always the financial aspect that every fighter faces after signing on the dotted line.

According to Lepont, his fight against Shinya Aoki cost more money than he earned. His preparation expenses include supplements, training partners, plane tickets, and the training camp itself. These are the things necessary just to be able to go toe-to-toe against one of the best lightweights in the world.

“Fighting Shinya Aoki cost me more money that I earned because, when you are a cage fighter, for most of us, we have to pay for our sparring, you have to pay for the flight ticket of your sparring partner to come and train with you or if not, you go to a camp and most of the time you have to pay for the camp. You have to pay the food and the supplement.

“People think that in the life of a cage fighter, you make tons of money, which is not true,” the adds.

Lepont found the situation unsustainable knowing that he deserves more than what he currently receives. This left him disgruntled like a worker being dragged to work with no choice but to honor his contract in order to continue with his career.

“We had some back-and-forth arguments and sooner or later one of us has to break and accept the offer of the other. So I have to bend a little bit and go their way.”

In search for outlets to vent his frustrations, and at the same time stay active, he joined BJJ competitions around Asia, which brought him recently to the Philippines for a BJJ tournament. With a couple of visits already to the Philippines, he’s grown to appreciate the country and its fighters. He’s also created friendly relationships with local fighters like Rene Catalan and Eric Kelly.

His recent visit turned out to be just what he needed. The Filipino’s competitive spirit helped him put his fight business worries aside and focus on what fighting is all about. So to speak, it flared back the old fire that was nearly extinguished by the business side of fighting.

“I saw the Filipino fighters, there’s this kind of fighter’s fighter attitude,” he says. “They will not listen to somebody, they will not listen to (their body’s) state of mind. They take the fight whatever (means) they have to do and I love that. For me, it was important to come (back) to the Philippines because it’s like the ‘Eye of the Tiger’. I fought for so many years and that sometimes you go into a camp and lose this kind of aggressivity of kind of fighting. It’s an eye-opener for me.”

Refreshed with the recent experience, Lepont is just happy to be back fighting. He’s facing Vincent Latoel and he looks to bring the positive energy in the cage and do what he always loves.

“So yeah, I’m back to ONE. I will have one fight. I’m not sure what the future is made of. God knows, like what we always say ‘God knows.’ Let’s see what will happen, one fight at a time.”

He ended with the statement: “My focus is on Vincent. Vincent is an amazing fighter. I have a lot of respect for him and we even call each other as friends. But yeah, for fifteen minutes I will try to rip his head off, he’s gonna try to rip my head off and may the best man win. That’s how it goes, that’s cage fighting. So I’m very happy to be back.”

Featured image via ONE Championship’s website

Mike Miguel

If there’s anything MMA related going down in the Philippines, Mike would know about it. With a knack for photography and social media, Mike never misses a beat.
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