There’s no doubt that #5-ranked Timofey Nastyukhin and #3-ranked Dagi Arslanaliev are two of the heaviest hitters in ONE’s lightweight mixed martial arts division – and they’re set to clash for the second time at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS this Friday, 3 December.
Arslanaliev scored a stunning first-round knockout in their first meeting three years ago, and Nastyukhin will be looking to even the score.
But with each man losing their last bout to former ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian “The Warrior” Lee, they’re equally determined to bounce back with an emphatic victory at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Ahead of the crucial rematch, the two contenders spoke to ONE Championship Commentator Michael “The Voice” Schiavello and shared their thoughts on the forthcoming second battle.
Nastyukhin feels like he missed a chance to beat his Turkish rival at ONE: CONQUEST OF HEROES in September 2018 due to his own error. And though he hasn’t dwelled too much on that defeat, the Russian knockout artist believes he can earn one back this time around.
“Everything was going really well until the missed punch. Once I missed that punch, you guys saw what happened during the fight,” Nastyukhin told Schiavello.
“[The loss] doesn’t really affect me much. It happened in the past, and now we just need to flip the page and move forward.
“I feel that I will definitely win in this fight. But we will see how the fight will go.”
Despite proving himself the first time around, Arslanaliev is happy to face the tough Russian again.
Following their first matchup, Nastyukhin won back-to-back fights – including a massive TKO victory over American legend Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez. He then fell short in a World Title challenge of Lee, but the Turkish star still believes this is an ideal matchup for his highly anticipated return to action.
“I was looking for someone within the rankings. Timofey is a good fighter, and he wanted this rematch,” Arslanaliev said.
“I haven’t fought for quite a long time, and I was happy to accept this fight. I want to confidently close this question one more time.”
That said, Arslanaliev isn’t expecting an easy night in Singapore.
When reflecting on their first bout, he gave props to Nastyukhin and acknowledged that things could have gone either way. Moreover, he’s expecting another tough battle at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS.
“To be honest, I didn’t even plan that [finish] during the fight. It happened while the situation was going on. Timofey was really good in his striking. During the fight, I don’t know what happened, but I punched him, and I KO’d him,” Arslanaliev said.
“I never give predictions for fights, but I’ll tell you guys that this fight will be way better than the fight that we had before.”
Nastyukhin was similarly reluctant to call his shot but stated that he’s prepared to push his rival beyond his limits as he aims for redemption.
“It’s not a great thing to look ahead and predict something. I’m ready for all three rounds, and I’m just ready to fight all of this. We will see during the fight,” the Russian offered.
Both men have dreams of capturing World Title gold on the global stage. They’ve suffered setbacks along the way, but those have only made them hungrier to succeed.
Their main focus is a decisive victory, knowing that a convincing win would immediately propel them toward the apex of the division – and Arslanaliev had the final say on his next goals
“The winner of this fight is supposed to be the challenger for the next fight against [ONE Lightweight World Champion] Ok Rae Yoon,” the Turkish contender added.
“In the future, after I get the fight with the champion, definitely, I would like to fight with Christian Lee and finish what I have to finish from last time.”