‘It Was My Way’ – Alibeg Rasulov Has Always Strived For Combat Sports Success

Alibeg Rasulov

Alibeg Rasulov has chased sporting success all his life, and it could finally pay dividends at ONE Fight Night 23 on Prime Video

The unbeaten 31-year-old takes on Ok Rae Yoon for the ONE Interim Lightweight MMA World Title live in U.S. primetime on Friday, July 5, and having the belt draped over his shoulder would be the culmination of decades of hard work.  

Before he faces the South Korean for the gold at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, find out how Rasulov turned his childhood passion into mixed martial arts success. 

Wrestling In Dagestan 

Rasulov was born and raised in the village of Leninkent on the outskirts of Dagestan’s capital of Makhachkala. 

The Russian republic is famous for its incredible wrestling heritage, and that’s where the upcoming World Title challenger cut his teeth in combat sports.  

“As I child, I chose the right way: do wrestling. I did freestyle wrestling for a long time. 

“I also played football at school. In general, I had a sporty childhood.” 

Setting His Sights On MMA 

Although he went on to graduate from high school and then higher education, Rasulov never intended on joining the regular workforce.  

He always wanted to be an athlete, and he thought the best way to do that was through mixed martial arts.  

Already armed with high-level wrestling experience, he knew he had to round out his arsenal and set to work on his striking before he could make the move. 

He recalled: 

“I initially wanted to switch to MMA. But I already had wrestling skills and wanted to improve at stand-up. So I decided to enter Muay Thai. 

“Muay Thai for me is a good sport: clinching, elbow strikes, knee strikes – everything MMA requires, so this was a good link.” 

After arming himself with a new striking repertoire to go along with his grappling, Rasulov started his MMA journey in 2012 at Gorets Gym.  

He had success in amateur contests and followed it up with his first pro bout in 2013. 

When Rasulov had his hand raised, he knew he was on the right path.  

The 31-year-old said: 

“It was after school when I decided to do it professionally, after freestyle wrestling. The decision came on its own. 

“Then I had my professional debut around 11 years ago and realized it was my way.” 

New Country, New Opportunities 

After maintaining an unbeaten slate five years into the pro ranks, Rasulov was riding high in terms of competitive success – but that brought up its own issues. 

He went almost two years without a fight, despite signing up to face anybody they put in front of him.  

That’s when he was offered the chance to move to Turkey with a new gym and management at Hyperion Fighters, and his career kickstarted again in earnest.  

Looking back on tough times he endured, Rasulov said: 

“I was offered fights, I agreed, but they couldn’t find an opponent for me for two years. It was very difficult. 

“It was hard to motivate myself, but I kept training and preparing. I continued to hope, and it has finally borne fruit.” 

The Chance To Go For Gold 

Rasulov earned his chance to compete in the world’s largest martial arts organization with his impressive record of 14-0, which includes 10 stoppages.  

His caliber could not be denied after high-profile regional wins, and he was given a prominent debut match against the former ONE Lightweight MMA World Champion Ok. 

The Turkey-based star was already thrilled to join the big leagues, but he got another boost when his debut was upgraded to a contest for the interim gold in the absence of divisional king Christian “The Warrior” Lee

Although Rasulov is eager to make the most of this opportunity with victory, he knows that entertaining the global fan base on a massive U.S. primetime platform is crucial when he steps into the ONE ring for the first time. 

He said: 

“When I was signed to ONE Championship, I was happy to know I would fight the best fighters in the world. My goal here is to become a champion and show beautiful fights.  

“I wish for my opponent to stay in good form so that we can show a spectacular fight. Every athlete prepares for a fight for a very long time, and he wants this fight to be remembered for life.” 

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