Dagi Arslanaliev has long been one of the most talented fighters in ONE’s stacked lightweight MMA division.
Arslanaliev’s complete skill set has helped him rack up a 9-2 record while securing the #2 spot in the lightweight rankings. At this point, he’s within shouting distance of a ONE Lightweight World Title shot.
But if he isn’t awarded the next challenge of reigning king Ok Rae Yoon, the 27-year-old can make a strong case by taking out another dangerous contender.
Here, we look at three potential opponents who could bring Arslanaliev closer to his ultimate goal.
Saygid Izagakhmaev’s grappling is going to be a tough nut to crack inside the Circle.
The #5-ranked lightweight’s explosive debut versus James Nakashima in January was clear proof of his excellence and efficiency on the canvas.
Moreover, the Dagestani phenom trains with some world-renowned wrestlers on a daily basis – including MMA great Khabib Nurmagomedov – which is helping him develop his craft at a rapid pace.
However, Arslanaliev could give Izagakhmaev a run for his money on the mats.
The Turk has become known as a knockout artist in ONE, but his bread and butter is still the grappling department.
He often closes the distance with teasing kicks and strong hands before utilizing his explosive power to score huge takedowns. Even if that fails, Arslanaliev’s trips and dumps can get the job done.
The closely matched grappling skills between him and Izagakhmaev would make this an intriguing contest – one that might ultimately be solved on the feet.
Fourth-ranked contender Iuri Lapicus would be the perfect litmus test for Arslanaliev to gauge whether or not he has enough within his arsenal to challenge for the gold.
The Moldovian beast has plenty to offer across multiple areas of the all-encompassing sport.
His pillar of strength is his judo, but under the tutelage of kickboxing legend Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan, Lapicus has transformed himself into an athlete who’s capable of trading leather with elite strikers.
He does not fear opponents who like to come forward hunting for action – and that’s exactly what he would get in a showdown with Arslanaliev.
The Turkish star is an aggressive martial artist who tries to instantly shut rivals down with his trademark overhands or takedowns
His punching power could make life difficult for Lapicus, and their matchup would likely come down to who lands first and who strikes the hardest.
Based on what we’ve seen si far, it would be difficult to doubt Arslanaliev’s concussive fists.
Christian “The Warrior” Lee and Arslanaliev met in the 2019 ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship Final, and a rematch of that epic battle could deliver plenty more excitement.
Lee may have earned a win over the Istanbul native, but his dance partner was willing to trade strike for strike until the end.
Arslanaliev’s punching prowess – combined with his tricky grappling – could certainly trouble the former lightweight king and current #1-ranked contender.
Likewise, “The Warrior” can spring a surprise on the canvas, and when Arslanaliev leaves a slight opening during any frantic stand-up exchanges, Lee’s fists can end matches in an instant.
With a score to settle, Arslanaliev will be hungry, but the Singaporean-American superstar is also motivated to reclaim the World Title.
And if these two fighters throw down in the Circle next, the winner would likely earn the next challenge of Ok.