Being a former ONE Flyweight World Champion, the 30-year-old has twice faced each of the two World Champions in high-stakes match-ups, and experienced similar returns.
In his promotional debut in November 2015, he beat Moraes via split decision to claim the ONE Flyweight World Championship. In the rematch last August, the Kazakhstani fell to “Mikinho” via unanimous decision. He lost the belt and experienced the first professional defeat of his career.
Akhmetov kickstarted his journey back to the gold just over a month later, as he edged out Eustaquio – also via split decision – in their three-round clash.
The contest was so close, a rematch was ordered for January. This time, the ONE Interim Flyweight World Title was up for grabs, but “The Kazakh” was unable to capitalize on his golden opportunity, and lost via unanimous decision.
The parallels between his match-ups against both men are uncanny.
Ahead of the World Champion versus World Champion main event clash at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER between his two former opponents, “The Kazakh” shares his thoughts on each competitor, the flyweight division, and more.
ONE Championship: How would you compare the abilities of Adriano Moraes and Geje Eustaquio?
Kairat Akhmetov: Eustaquio is a strong fighter with great striking, superb kicks, and impressive endurance, but Moraes is more experienced and versatile – he can easily go from stand-up to the ground. Eustaquio’s wrestling skills are not as impressive.
I think Moraes will remain the World Champion. Any fighter has a chance to win, because that is life. If Eustaquio trains hard and manages to stop Moraes from bringing the fight to the ground, he has a chance of winning.
ONE: How badly do you want to face the winner of this bout?
KA: I would happily fight them both again. Weak opponents do not interest me. I want to fight the best. These guys are amazing fighters, and I respect them both. They present a good challenge.
If ONE gives me a title shot, I will accept it against anyone who is the World Champion at the time.
ONE: How far do you think you are from a title shot now?
KA: I am still one of the top contenders. After one more fight, I will ask ONE management for a title shot, because I have been the World Champion already. I am still at the very top of the division.
I will do whatever it takes to become the king of the flyweight division again.
ONE: What does being a World Champion mean to you?
KA: It is important for me to excel in all areas of life, not just in sport. But when it comes to mixed martial arts, every good fighter wants to get to the top.
We sacrifice a lot for the chance to have our hand raised, and to have that belt wrapped around our waist. I am working towards this goal – day in and day out. The World Title means everything to me.
ONE: Which other flyweight athletes are you interested in competing against?
ONE: Are you ready to come back and compete inside the ONE cage again?
KA: I am 100 percent ready to get back in the game. I cannot wait for ONE to give me a new challenge. I plan to win and shoot for gold.
I really hope to face Geje Eustaquio soon, and prove to all mixed martial arts fans that he is not stronger than me.
Macau | 23 June | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast