It’s not often that fighters get a second chance, but Samy “AK47” Sana will get his at ONE: FIRST STRIKE on Friday, 15 October, when he steps into the Circle to participate in the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix.
Sana will meet Chingiz “Chinga” Allazov in the tournament quarterfinals and should be considered a favorite to capture the prestigious Grand Prix belt after making it to the final of the 2019 edition – where he ultimately succumbed to Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan.
Here’s why kickboxing fans can expect Sana to win it all this time around, even if he’ll be competing against seven other greats, including Marat Grigorian, Andy “Souwer Power” Souwer, and Sitthichai “Killer Kid” Sitsongpeenong.
#1 Made It To The 2019 Finals
Sana competed in the 2019 iteration of the Grand Prix with seven other world-class strikers – Petrosyan, Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy, Sasha Moisa, Smokin’ Jo Nattawut, “The Boxing Computer” Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, Dzhabar Askerov, and Enriko “The Hurricane” Kehl.
And with a lineup like that, some fans counted Sana out before the quarterfinals even began – mainly because he was one of the only competitors who wasn’t a pure kickboxer. His background was, and primarily still is, in Muay Thai.
However, that didn’t deter the French-Algerian from scoring two of the biggest wins of his career and making it to the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Championship Final.
#2 Defeated Kickboxing Legends
In the quarterfinals of the 2019 tournament, “AK47” met striking ace Yodsanklai, who was coming off a second-round TKO win over Souwer two months prior. Sana, meanwhile, had most recently lost to Nattawut.
“The Boxing Computer” was a heavy favorite, but Sana shocked the world by dropping the Thai legend with a left hook in the first round en route to a unanimous decision win.
In the semifinals three months later, “AK47” battled through a difficult three-round matchup with Askerov and emerged with an impressive majority decision.
Sana can take confidence from those victories, as both Yodsanklai and Askerov have defeated three of the seven men in this year’s Grand Prix – Souwer, Grigorian, and Kehl.
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#3 Wants Another Shot At Petrosyan
Winning the 2021 ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix would be an accolade in itself, but there’s another reason why Sana is fired up. He wants a rematch with his old foe and kickboxing great Petrosyan.
The two men faced each other in the 2019 ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Championship Final at ONE: CENTURY PART II, and after three rounds of thrilling action, Petrosyan earned the unanimous decision win, the tournament’s silver belt, and the US$1 million prize.
As it stands, “The Doctor” is the #1-ranked contender and will face #2-ranked Superbon for the inaugural ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Title in the main event of ONE: FIRST STRIKE.
If Sana wins the Grand Prix – and if Petrosyan defeats Superbon – the two could square off for the gold, giving “AK47” a chance to avenge his loss.
#4 Knows What To Expect
It could be a daunting task to enter this tournament with seven other men who’ve dominated the kickboxing world, but after going through the experience once already, Sana will be fully prepared.
That could give him the psychological edge against Allazov, who certainly poses a threat after winning the 2017 K-1 70-kg World Grand Prix Championship.
Moreover, “AK47” already knows how to train for this type of tournament, and he’ll be careful to pace himself and avoid burning out.
#5 Motivated For Victory
Despite tasting success in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the 2019 ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix, Sana ultimately lost to Petrosyan, denying him the prize he’d fought so hard for.
Also, he fell to Jamal “Kherow” Yusupov in their main event Muay Thai match last December despite a valiant effort.
These setbacks forced the French-Algerian striker back into the gym, where he’s been assessing and correcting his previous mistakes ever since.
With back-to-back losses in ONE, “AK47” will no doubt look to storm the tournament and prove he still deserves to compete against the world’s greatest kickboxers – starting with Allazov on 15 October.