Back To His Best, Marat Gafurov Has The Belt In His Sights

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If Marat “Cobra” Gafurov can keep performing as he did at ONE: FOR HONOR on 3 May, it may not be too long before he holds the ONE Featherweight World Title again.

The Russian grappling powerhouse put in one of the best performances of his career to claim a unanimous decision against Tetsuya “MMA Fantasista” Yamada in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Former ONE World Champion Marat Gafurov grinds out a big unanimous decision win over Tetsuya Yamada!

Former ONE World Champion Marat "Cobra" Gafurov grinds out a big unanimous decision win over Tetsuya Yamada!Watch the full event on the ONE Super App ???? | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast

Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, May 3, 2019

“Cobra” showed tremendous tenacity to absorb some heavy blows from his Japanese rival, and then continue with his overwhelming offense as if nothing had happened.

Yamada’s counter knees would have floored most athletes, but Gafurov barely suffered any break in momentum as he wrestled his rival to the mat and dominated him with relentless ground and pound.

The judges had an easy job after 15 minutes and gave him a unanimous decision, which as he explains – despite competing in far from perfect condition – could shoot him toward a chance to reclaim the gold.

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ONE Championship: Do you think this was one of your best performances?

Marat Gafurov: I definitely don’t think it was my best performance, but I am glad that the audience and mixed martial arts fans liked it.

It was a good fight, I hope I gave a beautiful show but the fight didn’t go according to my plan.

ONE: Did the match go as you expected?

MG: My plan was to get a takedown followed by a choke or a submission quite early in the match, but we went back and forth for three rounds.

I had food poisoning just a day earlier, so I felt really weak. My body was not working 100 percent, and I had to listen to it.

I pushed myself as far as I could. Yes, I missed some punches, but regardless of that, I fought back, I persevered, and I won.

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ONE: You absorbed some big knees from Yamada – how much did they hurt? Were you afraid you might get knocked out by them?

MG: I saw those knees coming, I was prepared for them. There’s no way Tetsuya had a chance to KO me with one of them.

I was ready to absorb some of those knees – when I fight, my adrenaline is high, and I do not feel pain.

ONE: Do you think you could have done anything differently in the match?

MG: If you take into account how I felt on fight day, there was not much else I could do.

I wish I didn’t have the meal that made me so sick, and I wish I had performed the original game plan, but apart from that, I am happy to have claimed the victory – that’s the main thing.

Winning is always my main goal, so I felt satisfied after the win. It was very important for me to win to get back into the race for the belt.

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ONE: How many bouts separate you from the belt now?

MG: I don’t know, it is up to the ONE bosses and matchmakers to decide, but I sincerely hope that either my next fight or the one after is going to be a World Title match.

I really want to claim that belt back and bring it home to Dagestan. As always, my family, relatives, and friends were there to greet me when I got back.

They are happy to see me win again, but I am not going to bask in this glory for long, it is time to sit down with my camp and map the route back to the top.

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