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Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, 23 September 2018
Far from a shot in the dark, the 25-year-old says the outcome was everything he expected, because of his work with his coaches at Pancrase ISM Yokohama in Japan.
He was light on his feet, and prepared to strike when his opponent left his chin exposed.
“I mixed lots of movement, such as feints, and I kept my distance. I was able to get the knockout because everything went as planned,” he says.
Despite the dominant manner with which he was able to get his hand raised and his composure in the cage, he was anything but relaxed.
Faced with a former ONE Featherweight World Champion on the global stage for martial arts, he admits feeling some nerves.
“I’ve never felt that much pressure because of his size, and how intimidating he was,” he says.
After passing his first test with flying colors, Matsushima believes he has fired himself straight into World Title contention.
The only other person to blemish Gafurov’s record is the division’s current king, Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen.
The Japanese star managed to finish the Russian an entire round earlier than the Vietnamese-Australian knockout artist, so Matsushima believes he has made a case for a high-profile return to action.
“I think this win will lead to the title shot,” he says. “I want to become the ONE Featherweight World Champion in Tokyo.
“I’m always preparing myself for the title shot. I want to say thank you to Chatri (Sityodtong, ONE Chairman and CEO) for bringing me to ONE Championship.
“I’ll show an aggressive fight next time, so please cheer for me.”
If not Nguyen, then Matsushima is targeting another former ONE Featherweight World Champion.
A victory over this Mongolian legend would push him further toward’s the top prize, and help to raise his profile in his homeland – and across Asia.
“I want to face Narantungalag Jadambaa,” he says. “He is famous in Japan.”