Gianni Subba: The Road From The ONE Circle To The Commentary Chair

ONE Championship flyweight Gianni Subba (9-3) has been on a medical suspension since he was diagnosed with a brain cyst back in December 2018. It turned out that he had it throughout his career in ONE, spanning twelve matches.

Nevertheless, the Malaysian has used this time productively. Subba has taken on a commentator role in Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series, and a few ONE major cards as well.

Unforeseen Plot Twist at ONE: For Honor

It all started when Subba got an unexpected chance to replace Michael “The Voice” Schiavello at ONE: For Honor, who got sick just before the Jakarta event. Speaking to ONE Championship the 27 year old described how this abrupt turn of events went down.

“Man, 2019 was a pretty crazy year,” Subba said. “The first few months were a bit slow, then in May all that changed instantly.

“Just hours before the show in Jakarta, [one of the producers] came up to me and asked whether I could commentate. It was something I’ve been wanting to do for quite a while, ever since I got my injury, and I knew that this was the chance for me to make it a reality.”

Subba embraced this incredible opportunity to call the action, and share the commentating booth with one of the ONE Championship’s pioneer mixed martial artists, Mitch ‘The Dragon’ Chilson.

Originally, Gianni Subba came to the event to support his younger brother Keanu, who lost to Ryogo Takahashi and suffered a broken shin bone. That made Gianni’s night even more challenging, but he managed to keep his composure and finish the job well.

“That night was a dream come true for me, but after the injury that Keanu sustained, I wasn’t thinking about my night anymore.

“It felt like a bad dream, but I knew my brother was in good hands with [his coach] Mike [Ikilei], and my dad. I couldn’t have done much even if I left, and I knew he would have wanted me to sit down and continue my job. So, that’s what I did. I just wanted to represent us,” he explained.

ONE Warrior Series and the Big Show

Gianni did very well that night, which earned him another shot at OWS 6 on June 20th. This time Subba was ringside with seasoned commentator Steve Dawson and ONE Vice President Miesha Tate, and was also provided a chance to work with the UFC Hall of Famer, Rich Franklin.

“Rich and I spoke before one of the shows, and he told me he loves what I’m doing,” he said. ”He liked my debut in Jakarta, and that was really cool to hear coming from a guy like him.

“He gave me some good advice, too, telling me not to worry about messing up as OWS is the platform for you to build your career.”

And Subba did just that. After showing great abilities in ONE Warrior Series and ONE Hero Series, the Malaysian star got an offer to commentate on the prelims at ONE: Century in Tokyo, Japan, last October.

ONE: Century was ONE’s history 100th event, but Subba was ready for the big show.

“I wanted to give the best I could,” he said. “When I walked into the stadium and took my seat, I felt rather comfortable compared to previous occasions.

“I believe Steve [Dawson] and I did a great job on the prelims. There was still some room for improvement on my end, but it was such an honor to be part of that card.”

After that, Subba did the commentary at OWS 9 last December, and OWS 10 in February this year.

Sharpening the Skills and Looking at the Future

Subba feels he made big improvements on multiple levels, and he is grateful for all the feedback he gets.

“I think I’ve grown a lot in terms of my confidence,” he said. “I’ve been working a lot on being more precise with breaking down the grappling exchanges as well.

“I see the action very fast in my head, so sometimes I still catch myself getting tied up, trying to get everything out in a hurry. Fortunately, the whole production team has been so patient and understanding with me. I’m glad to work with all these talented people.

“I always appreciate the feedback, too. It helps me know what I’ve done wrong or right so I can make sure I don’t repeat the same mistakes again.”

Although Subba enjoys his new position within ONE Championship, he is ready to step in the ONE Circle once again as a competitor, when the opportunity presents itself.

“I feel like I’ve improved a lot [as an athlete] in the last 12 months,” he said. “I’m still training every day, so whenever the opportunity comes, I’ll be ready.

“But, of course, I’m also looking forward to more commentating roles in the meantime!”

If and when Gianni Subba returns to the ONE Circle, who would you like to see him face?


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