Abbasov: Undefeated Challenger Nakashima ‘Hasn’t Fought Guys Like Me’
For the past year, ONE Welterweight World Champion Kiamrian “Brazen” Abbasov has been patiently waiting to defend the belt he worked so hard to get. Now, that wait is finally over.
This Friday, 6 November, the Kyrgyzstani dynamo will make his first World Title defense against undefeated challenger James Nakashima in the main event of ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX II, which was previously recorded at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“My last bout happened a year ago, so I am very hungry now,” Abbasov says.
“It doesn’t feel like preparation for a title defense. It feels like I am training for a title shot again. I have so much hunger right now. I feel like I am fighting for another belt – like I’m shooting for more gold.”
Abbasov, who owns an impressive 22-4 professional record, has created an explosive highlight reel over the past two years.
He became the first fighter to submit Malaysian sensation Agilan “Alligator” Thani, knocked out Yushin “Thunder” Okami in the Japanese legend’s promotional debut, and dominated then-titleholder Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam across five rounds to earn a unanimous decision victory and the ONE Welterweight World Title in October 2019.
That World Championship victory was very emotional for the Kyrgyzstani hero, and it took some time for reality to set in.
“It was incredible,” the 27-year-old says.
“When I had my hand raised in the air, I couldn’t believe that I’d become a ONE World Champion. For the first two or three days, I could not believe that I had become a ONE World Champion, and only after getting back home did the feeling sink in.”
Unfortunately for Abbasov, the global COVID-19 pandemic forced him to the sidelines before he had a chance to defend the gold.
But when restrictions eased in his current home of Novorossiysk, Russia, he returned to full-time training and was soon granted a matchup with Nakashima – an opponent he’d expressed a desire to face back in June.
Nakashima, an NJCAA National Wrestling Champion, has been invincible since making his professional mixed martial arts debut in June 2015.
The 32-year-old American – who trains at the acclaimed MMA Lab in Phoenix, USA, and cross-trains with Team Petrosyan in Milan, Italy – has won 12 consecutive bouts. What’s more, he’s defeated previously unbeaten Russian star Raimond Magomedaliev, former ONE Welterweight World Title challenger Luis “Sapo” Santos, and the iconic Okami.
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Nakashima is a well-rounded mixed martial artist who’s developed into a more dangerous striking threat with the help of Petrosyan, but Abbasov and his team at Novorosfight are undeterred.
In fact, “Brazen” is eager to see just how good the former wrestling champion’s grappling truly is.
“We have been analyzing his techniques and tactics, mainly based on his last bout against Yushin Okami,” Abbasov says.
“Mainly, it’s a job for my coaches, as I don’t like watching my opponents. It’s usually enough to see one fight, and that’s enough for me to understand what’s what. He is a tenacious wrestler, so let’s see whose wrestling is better.”
Abbasov also isn’t intimidated by his challenger’s perfect 12-0 slate. While he acknowledges that Nakashima has beaten some incredible adversaries, the Kyrgyzstani star simply believes his versatile skill set is on another level.
“I don’t care about his record. I am not scared,” the reigning ONE Welterweight World Champion says.
“He fought top opponents, so he could make a great competition. I don’t know him as a person, but I respect him as an opponent. However, he hasn’t fought guys like me, and it will be a big problem for him.
“Losing is not [an option] for me right now. Everything depends on how much effort you put into your training and how hard you work. The more you give to your training, the better result – like a big win – you can expect.”
There’s no question that fans can expect 100 percent effort from Abbasov in this main event showdown.
The Kyrgyz may be entering this contest as the divisional king, but he refuses to rest on his laurels or play it safe. After so much time away, “Brazen” knows that a finish would make the biggest statement of all and set the tone for his World Championship reign.
“Many people say it is harder to defend a title than to get one because you have more motivation, but I don’t think so,” Abbasov offers. “I have always been and remain a hunter, and opponents are my prey.”