Shamil Gasanov Eyes Top-Five Contenders; Kwon Won Il, Liam Nolan Aim For Gold Following ONE Fight Night 18
Shamil “The Cobra” Gasanov had to overcome adversity to claim victory in his first ONE Championship main event battle on Friday, January 12.
The Russian standout defeated South Korean star “Spider” Oh Ho Taek by unanimous decision at ONE Fight Night 18 on Prime Video, but a bout of food poisoning close to the match made things quite difficult for him.
Although he felt far from his best, Gasanov – the #4-ranked featherweight MMA contender – tried to block it out of his mind and display his warrior spirit.
Ultimately, he succeeded. After three long rounds, “The Cobra” overwhelmed Oh with his world-class grappling skills to earn the nod at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
Backstage in his post-fight interview, Gasanov said:
“I don’t know what happened. When I was warming up, I felt pretty good. Everything was well. But after the first round, I couldn’t feel my body well. My arms and legs weren’t listening to me. I think it was just because of my willpower and the motivation from my trainer that I could finish the fight and win.
“It was a pretty difficult fight. I was planning to finish him in the first round with the first submission of 2024, but it didn’t go well. But even though I didn’t feel well, I’m happy that I won.”
Now, he is looking ahead. Gasanov previously expressed his desire to rematch Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon, who handed “The Cobra” his only career defeat last July. But the American isn’t the only athlete in his sights.
The Russian would also love a shot at Tang Kai or Thanh Le, who are scheduled to meet in a ONE Featherweight MMA World Title unification showdown at ONE 166: Qatar on March 1. But at the end of the day, he’s down to face anybody.
“Actually, I don’t care who is next. As long as the guys are from the top of the rankings. Of course, it’s going to depend on the next few fights. Garry and Martin Nguyen are going to fight, and I think I can fight the guy who loses.
“Both Tang Kai and Thanh Le are strong. They’re really good, experienced fighters. I think I can meet both of them.
“But at the same time, I can fight all the guys. I know the guys at the top like to take a long rest after their fights. If there are other people not in the top-five, I’m looking forward to facing them too.”
‘I’m Coming For You’ – Kwon Won Il Calls Out Fabricio Andrade
“Pretty Boy” Kwon Won Il delivered a standout performance in one of the most anticipated battles of ONE Fight Night 18.
After vowing to show off his full MMA game, the South Korean knockout artist finished Shinechagtga Zoltsetseg via ground-and-pound, and he was happy that he got to deliver on his pre-fight promise.
“To be honest, yes [I think my grappling is underrated]. And a lot of people online have been commenting that my grappling skill is not as advanced [as my striking], so I tried to show them at least once that I do have this skill.”
With the TKO win, Kwon now has three consecutive stoppage victories since his loss to reigning ONE Bantamweight MMA World Champion Fabricio “Wonder Boy” Andrade.
The surging 28-year-old believes this is enough to get him a second crack at the Brazilian kingpin, and that’s the only thing on his agenda moving forward.
“My next plan is on only one thing. Give me the World Title shot. I want Fabricio. I’m going to kill him. That’s my plan.
“Where are you, Fabricio? I’m coming for you.”
‘Don’t Sleep On The Lightweights’ – Liam Nolan Excited For Future
The Russian put up a valiant effort in his late-notice debut, but Nolan – extra motivated to be the first British athlete from ONE Championship to compete on Sky Sports – was determined to leave the ring with his arm raised in the air.
“I was very confident that I took the win. I definitely thought I did enough, I hurt him multiple times. So yeah, I was confident I won the fight.”
Now brimming with confidence after dusting off the cobwebs, Nolan is looking forward to an active 2024 with so many new and existing contenders in the division.
The Londoner is willing to face all comers, but his biggest goal is to challenge two-sport king Regian “The Immortal” Eersel for the ONE Lightweight Muay Thai World Title.
“Who to fight next? I don’t know. But I definitely wanna be ending the year with the ONE belt on this shoulder right here. I believe I’m close to a fight with Eersel, I believe I’ll fight once more before that. But I reckon, this year, that fight has a good chance of happening.
“My division is very exciting. Don’t sleep on the lightweights because we’ve got a big division and there’s lots of good fights for me.”