In fact, the surging heavyweight believes his adversary – former ONE World Title challenger Mauro “The Hammer” Cerilli – should be wary.
“I’m not nervous at all. My opponent should be nervous,” Vagabov says about his grand premiere on the global stage.
“I have competed in different leagues before, but to perform in ONE is a big step in my career. I want to fight with serious fighters, show my skills to everyone, and give ONE a great show because it is a prestigious organization.”
Now fighting out of the famed Allstars Training Center in Stockholm, Sweden, Vagabov originally hails from Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Despite being a new face in The Home Of Martial Arts, the 29-year-old is already a champion in mixed martial arts, sambo, and wrestling back in his homeland.
Overall, he holds a sterling 12-1 professional record with 11 finishes. Impressively, 10 of those stoppage wins have come in the very first round — including the seven straight victories that earned him his ONE Championship contract.
Dubbed “Dagestan Machine” by his world-class training partners, he has become one of the most highly regarded heavyweight rising stars on the planet.
“Why do they call me ‘Dagestan Machine?’ I don’t know,” he says. “[Swedish mixed martial artists] Ilir Latifi and Alexander Gustafsson gave me that name. You should ask them.”
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Fans will be able to see it for themselves when the world’s largest martial arts organization airs ONE: UNBREAKABLE II from the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday. With his first chance to shine on a truly international platform, Vagabov wants to do his family and his team proud by showing what he is capable of.
The Saint Petersburg native also has huge ambitions in his new promotional home, and he is spurred on by those who have helped him reach this point – and his position as a role model for his compatriots.
“First of all, I fight for my family, then for my country, and then for the recognition of the fans,” Vagabov says.
“[ONE Heavyweight World Champion] Brandon Vera is a good fighter. He is a veteran. I respect him, but it’s time for the young heavyweight fighters.
“To be the champion in ONE means being one of the best in the world. I want to win the belt and motivate the younger generations in Russia to do sports.”
In order to challenge the reigning heavyweight king, Vagabov must first get past the powerful Cerilli, who owns a 13-4 slate. The Italian is a seasoned and dangerous rival, but the Russian has a very simple strategy.
“I don’t have any plan for this fight. Just hit and destroy,” he asserts. “People like to watch heavyweight fights because with two big guys fighting, most fights finish with a KO.”
With his big dreams out in the open, Vagabov is now left to back up his confident words in the Circle.
And while he does not want to predict an eighth straight first-round stoppage win, the Russian will not rule it out. Either way, history tells us that a matchup between “Dagestan Machine” and “The Hammer” is unlikely to go the distance.
“I never plan to finish the fight in the first round. It comes naturally,” Vagabov says. “Anything can happen in the fight. The most important [factor] is the spirit, and I have it.”
Read more: Full Card Revealed For ONE: UNBREAKABLE II