Georgiy “Knight” Kichigin will make his ONE Championship debut this Friday, 8 March, and the stakes could not be any higher for his first appearance in The Home Of Martial Arts.
When he faces the division’s current kingpin at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar, fans might not know what to expect from the debutant. The 30-year-old, however, will be ready to push Kadestam to his limits.
Born in Kazakhstan and raised in Russia, Kichigin’s life has been centered around combat. His phenomenal skills and mammoth win streak have earned him an instant shot at the most coveted prize in martial arts, and he is eager to make the most of his opportunity.
Here are four reasons why this “Knight” has the potential to overcome “The Bandit.”
#1 Kichigin Is A Master Grappler
The strength of Kichigin’s grappling will be a real deal-breaker in his World Title challenge against the Swede.
On the rare occasion that the World Champion has looked fallible, it has been when his rivals have closed the distance and dragged the bout to the canvas.
To get it there, “Knight” will need to employ his wrestling. He learned to wrestle in Russia — a formidable nation in the Olympic sport — and then followed his elder brother into sambo, which combines other takedown elements from judo and jiu-jitsu.
He has several proven techniques that he likes to incorporate, including the high-crotch takedown and a relentless search for the double-leg takedown against the cage.
On the ground, Kichigin’s offense becomes an even bigger threat. He has an exceptional finishing rate of 90 percent with the vast majority of his stoppage wins coming by way of tap out — in particular, he favors armbars and guillotine chokes, which account for 11 of his 16 submission victories.
Kadestam has evolved in both his takedown defense and his ability to remain safe and scramble back to his feet. Despite this, the Kazakh may still hold the edge in close quarters.
#2 An Unrivaled Hot Streak
The man from Almaty, Kazakhstan is on a 14-bout win streak, which began in 2015.
This unbelievable run of form has seen him extend his record to 20-5 and claim the FNG Welterweight Title.
He will enter the world’s largest martial arts organization with immense momentum and tremendous confidence, and a confident martial artist is always dangerous.
Kichigin has a strong belief in his skills and his ability to overcome tough opposition. He has faced — and defeated — world-class opponents, and he is positive he can continue on the same track in Myanmar.
#3 Survival, Not Sport
The ONE Welterweight World Title challenger has not just used martial arts in a sporting environment.
Kichigin, a former military officer, honed his skills so that they could one day save his life on the battlefield.
This ingrained a resilience into the Kazakh borne out of necessity, so when it comes to combat in the cage, he is willing to put it all on the line.
Kichigin was also efficient in these real-life styles — in fact, he earned the title of Master of Sport in Army Hand-To-Hand Combat, and became a Military Forces Champion and an Airborne Forces Champion.
#4 Power In His Fists
Much of the focus has been on Kichigin’s dominant grappling acumen, but the defending World Champion would be wise to not overlook his rival’s striking.
As much as “Knight” has the ability to finish his opponents on the ground, he has also shown that he has firepower in his fists.
In his last outing in December, Kichigin finished hardened veteran Rousimar Palhares with a powerful salvo of punches. In particular, his straight right landed to good effect to drop his foe to the canvas.
Palhares has been in the cage against many of the sport’s biggest names, and that victory sent shockwaves all the way to Asia and punched his ticket to a World Title encounter.
If Kadestam does not give his stand-up game the appropriate respect, the challenger’s striking ability could shock the world and earn him the ONE Welterweight World Championship.