Lowen Tynanes wanted a ONE Championship title shot. He thought he earned it with four impressive wins under the ONE banner.
It didn't come this time, tough. Tynanes will meet the very tough Koji Ando at ONE: Global Rivals on Friday in the Philippines. The undefeated Hawaiian will have to beat Ando and then hope ONE gives him the opportunity.
Luckily for Tynanes (8-0), he has someone he can vent to about this topic, someone who will have some empathy for him. Tynanes' teammate and longtime training partner Max Holloway has won eight straight in the UFC's featherweight division with a title shot still out of reach.
"Me and him talked about that," Tynanes told MMA Fighting. "He brought it up to me. He said, 'We're at a point where we're one fight away from a title shot. We're also at the point where one little loss can push you back 10 steps.' Every fight is crucial. Every one has gotta be solid and every one has gotta be victorious."
Tynanes, 25, is a top prospect and a potential rising star in MMA. However, Ando is no joke. He's only lost once in the last four years and that came against Shinya Aoki. The Japanese fighter is coming off a unanimous decision win over Roger Huerta back in September.
For all those reasons, Tynanes isn't even thinking about a title shot right now. How can he when he has to deal with the very game Ando first?
"I don't like to look past anything or anyone," Tynanes said. "That's totally up to [ONE]. They've got sole control. That's their organization. It's in their hands. I can only do so much, right?
"Right now, it's not even on my mind. I'm not even sure, really. I want to take this guy out first."
Tynanes has finished six of his eight career wins. He's exciting and marketable. Those in the know in Hawaii say he has a shot to be the best fighter out of Hawaii Elite, which boasts such athletes as Holloway, Louis Smolka and Yancy Medeiros, among others. Tynanes also has designs on being in the UFC and only has two fights left on his contract. Perhaps that is also holding ONE back from giving him a title shot.
"I have nothing against ONE FC," Tynanes said. "They're a really solid organization. Solid fighters, good people. They take care of me. But, I mean, I had a dream to be in the UF before ONE FC was even heard of. That's always been my dream and it still is. I want to fight in the UFC one day.
"More money is always better, right? You can never have enough. The pay can always be greater. But these guys are solid. They're a big organization. They're really good people. They take care of their fighters. [The UFC is] just my dream. That's all."
More than money, Tynanes is working to represent his home of Hawaii, his team and his family. Holloway and Smolka each have a chance at getting a shot at gold this year. Tynanes would be hard to deny if he beats Ando. He believes that there very well could be three belts coming back to the island in 2016.
"That will be all time," Tynanes said. "That would be ideal. That's what we like. Any way to represent."
That's about as much as Tynanes will allow himself to think about a title shot, though -- in the context of his teammates and friends. As for himself, there's only one thing he's worried about right now: Ando.
"If the title comes, it comes," Tynanes said. "If not, I'll take it one at a time until I can work my way up and get that."