Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev’s explosive start to his career in ONE Championship has helped to kickstart a mixed martial arts revolution in his homeland.
The 24-year-old – who takes on Ev “E.T.” Ting in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix quarter-finals at ONE: CALL TO GREATNESS this Friday, 22 February – is one of the key figures in the growth of his sport in Turkey.
As his nickname suggests, the rising star was born in Dagestan, Russia, but he has called Turkey home since he was 16.
Could "Dagi" shock the ???? in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix?Download the ONE Super App now ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Wednesday, 9 January 2019
Although the nation has a proud tradition of combat sports, mixed martial arts has not entered the mainstream consciousness yet.
“Turkey definitely has a lot of martial arts talent,” says “Dagi.”
“There is an outstanding wrestling school here, and some good kickboxers came out of Turkey, but until now, mixed martial arts hasn’t enjoyed much spotlight.”
That means until recently, Arslanaliev struggled to find support for his burgeoning career.
As mixed martial arts was not ubiquitous yet, there were not many people willing to lend the young athlete a helping hand.
“I’ve been representing Turkey in Asia’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion for three years, and I am very proud of what I’ve achieved,” he says.
“It has not been easy because I’ve never had any sponsors, but I have good friends and great teammates, so I hope together we can bring Turkish mixed martial arts to a whole new level.”
This Friday, will the power in Saygid "Dagi" Arslanaliev's ???? take the Turkish juggernaut to the semifinals of the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix? Singapore | 22 February | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onegreatness19
Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, 17 February 2019
According to Arslanaliev, the tide is now starting to change, and that is in no small part because of his efforts.
Although he is modest about his contribution to the scene, the Istanbul resident’s success in the cage on the global stage for martial arts has shone a light on the sport in the region.
Since his ONE debut back in 2016, the lightweight dynamo has won five bouts – all of them via stoppage – to establish himself as one of the division’s top athletes.
He has also opened his own gym, Dagi MMA, in his hometown. He hopes it can be the center of the sport’s continued growth in Turkey and the skills that have given him so much success can be passed onto a new generation of competitors.
“My primary goal is to create space where I can train myself and give back to the community,” he adds.
“Turkey has been a fantastic country to me. People really made me feel at home here.”
Will "Dagi!" take another arm home on 22 February?Singapore | 22 February | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onegreatness19
Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, 4 February 2019
Though the new training center may carry his moniker, Arslanaliev is not ready to commit himself to life as a full-time coach yet.
Instead, he will concentrate on the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix, which begins in the Singapore Indoor Stadium against Ting, and a run toward the ONE Lightweight World Title.
“I am here to help the young generation, but I am still very young and have a long way to go myself professionally,” he explains.
“I want to train to fight as much as I can now, but when I have free time, I am ready to share my knowledge with those who need it.”