Samy “AK47” Sana knows firsthand what it means to fall agonizingly short of winning the most prestigious kickboxing tournament in the world – and he wants to make sure it never happens again.
Two years after failing to win the 2019 ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix, the French-Algerian striking ace will compete in the 2021 edition and kick-start his road to the tournament championship on Friday, 15 October.
Against Allazov, Sana will face a man who’s 56-5 (1 NC) and has finished 34 of his kickboxing adversaries. But that hasn’t deterred the 32-year-old, who believes he has spotted flaws in his opponent’s style.
“Chingiz is a pure kickboxer, with good hands and especially good kicks,” Sana admits. “But I think he doesn’t like being pressured, and he is small if you compare him to me.”
Sana stands nine centimeters taller than his Azerbaijani counterpart, and he knows exactly how to utilize his height. The French-Algerian coupled it with his aggressive style in the 2019 ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix, and he managed to take out two legends because of it.
In the quarterfinals, he ran roughshod over “The Boxing Computer” Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex. During the nine-minute scrap, Sana shockingly knocked down the Thai superstar for an eight count and ultimately earned a unanimous decision win.
Then in the semifinals, he met another kickboxing icon in Dzhabar Askerov and beat the Russian via majority decision in a victory powered by sheer physical intensity.
This time around, “AK47” believes he’ll have another attribute that he’ll put to work against “Chinga” – but it has less to do with the physical and more to do with the intangible.
“I’m stronger mentally,” Sana offers. “My mind is on repeat, saying, ‘You can’t fall in this tournament again.’”
After defeating the two kickboxing greats in the 2019 Grand Prix, Sana faced Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan in the final. But every time he tried to pressure the Armenian-Italian star, he was doused with bucket loads of punches. Not his height – nor his range – could help him evade Petrosyan’s boxing.
In the end, “The Doctor” took the win, and with it, the tournament’s silver belt and the US$1 million prize.
Sana made no excuses after the bout, but he now admits that his preparation for the Armenian-Italian didn’t go as planned. Since then, he’s been able to refocus, and now he wants to take everything he has learned and use it to smash through Allazov.
“In 2019, I performed perfectly until the final against Petrosyan, where I had many problems during my fight camp. Now, I know all my weaknesses and all my strengths. I know how to work with all of them,” Sana says.
Sana is determined to defeat Allazov and secure his spot in the semifinals, but he refuses to predict an outcome for his upcoming quarterfinal matchup at ONE: FIRST STRIKE.
Instead, he’s preparing for what he expects to be the toughest fight of his career.
“I am focusing only on victory. And how I will beat him and in which round? I don’t care. But on 15 October, there will be a big war,” Sana says.
- 10 Facts About Kickboxing GOAT Giorgio Petrosyan
- Enriko Kehl’s Confidence At All-Time High Ahead Of Kickboxing GP
- Ozcan Fires Back At Sitthichai, Plans To Surprise Him In GP Bout
Many fighters in ONE Super Series have made bold claims before. Some have stayed true to their words, while others have fallen short. Sana, however, is entering this bout with more conviction than possibly any other kickboxer in the history of the sport.
In 2019, he was on the verge of winning the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Championship Final and claiming a prize that would’ve changed his life forever. But he fell short. Now, he’s using that loss as motivation to propel himself into the final of this year’s tournament.
“No one in this tournament except for me lost an opportunity to win $US1 million,” Sana says. “Just imagine my determination.”