After a difficult setback, Tayfun “Turbine” Ozcan is eager to establish himself as a serious threat in ONE’s featherweight kickboxing division.
Their matchup at the Singapore Indoor Stadium will be “Turbine’s” first appearance since falling to Thai legend Sitthichai “Killer Kid” Sitsongpeenong via split decision in the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix quarterfinals.
The Turkish striker came into that showdown riding a 13-fight winning streak, but he had also recently rehabbed from a broken hand – something he admits played a role in his mindset.
“It affected me mentally a little bit because it was a short-notice offer after I was recovering from my injury,” Ozcan says.
“Even though I knew my hand had recovered, I still worried that maybe I could break it again. I got into my head a little bit about it.”
Despite that concern, “Turbine’s” clash with Sitthichai was tightly contested. He primarily used his boxing to close the distance and had a strong chance to earn the victory heading into the third round.
But in the end, the 30-year-old believes his time away from competition and lack of sustained offense hampered his ability to sway the judges when it mattered most.
“After a year-and-a-half layoff, I felt like I was missing my rhythm,” Ozcan says. “There were so many new things for me, like being in a new country, and I didn’t fight as aggressively as I would have liked.
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“Since it was such a close fight, I think if I just showed more aggression and didn’t wait so much, then maybe the fight would have been mine.”
With nearly 100 bouts under his belt, “Turbine’s” first loss since February 2017 has only made him reflective and hungry to correct his mistakes – especially now that Sitthichai has reached the Grand Prix Championship Final.
The multiple-time Enfusion Champion is training hard in the Netherlands, and he can’t wait to battle Kehl, who fell to the other Grand Prix finalist, Chingiz “Chinga” Allazov.
Ozcan has previously stated that he seeks matchups against dangerous foes, and he’ll be facing a multiple-time World Champion on 25 February.
But while Kehl is a skilled southpaw like Sitthichai, the Turk feels more prepared than he did the last time out.
“I am excited because Enriko is a huge name in kickboxing,” Ozcan says.
“He’s beaten some big names, and he comes to fight every time. It will be a very good fight, and I am very motivated. It does not matter to me that he is a southpaw. I’ve trained for this, and after facing Sitthichai, it’s not something that worries me.”
It’s clear that “Turbine” wants to make a big statement at ONE: FULL CIRCLE as he aims to reach the top of the global promotion.
He’s ready to display his elite abilities and kick-start another long winning streak – one that could ultimately earn him a shot at the featherweight kickboxing division’s coveted belt.
“I need to win this fight. I don’t have a choice, I just need to win,” Ozcan adds.
“I have never lost two fights in a row in my career. I want to showcase what I have in store for the biggest organization in the world. I desire to be the best, and I can’t stop until I get there.
“If I haven’t beaten the best guys, I need to do that to develop my legacy. So I can look back in five years and say, “Wow, I beat those names. I was the best fighter.”