Kseniya Lachkova Ready For Anything Mei Yamaguchi Throws At Her
Kseniya “The Tigress” Lachkova faces an enormous challenge in her ONE Championship debut as she challenges hometown hero Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi at ONE: A NEW ERA.
The Russian will face a two-time ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title challenger who will have the support of thousands of fans behind her in Tokyo, Japan.
However, the 23-year-old has proved she can handle high-pressure situations throughout her young career so far, and she is confident she can shine in The Home Of Martial Arts.
“This is a massive step forward in my career,” she says.
“Back in February, when I heard the news about my new contract with ONE, I felt like something in my life was about to change.”
Lachkova’s maiden ONE match-up will be part of the world’s largest martial arts organization’s biggest event ever, but that has only made her more excited to compete.
So far, her professional run has seen her compete in Russia and China to build her record and her name. Now, after winning 10 bouts – including eight by stoppage – and inspired by her countrymen, she has the chance to star alongside some of her sport’s biggest stars.
“It is a dream come true to be on the same card as mixed martial arts legends Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez,” says the Baksan native.
“I am not at that level yet, I am only starting in ONE, but give me time.
“Aziz [Pahrudinov – her manager, coach, and fellow ONE athlete] has paved the way for me and, hopefully, many other athletes from remote parts of Russia. This is only the beginning.”
Lachkova recognizes she has drawn one of her division’s very best athletes at the Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Before she arrived in ONE, “V.V.” was DEEP Jewels Featherweight World Champion, and has since proved her skill on the global stage for martial arts with wins against Jenny Huang, Gina Iniong, and Jomary Torres. She also pushed “Unstoppable” Angela Lee to the limit in two World Title bouts.
The Japanese hero is 13 years the senior of “The Tigress” with more than two times the amount of professional experience, but as much as she presents an imposing challenge, the Russian cannot hide her excitement.
“On one hand, Mei is just another opponent, and this is just another fight in my career. But at the same time, this is my debut in ONE, and that puts extra pressure on me. Yamaguchi has my full attention,” Lachkova says.
“Mei has a lot of experience and skill – she has 18 wins and over 25 fights – this kind of experience cannot be taken lightly.
“I’m given one of the promotion’s top fighters to face in my debut – that’s thrilling!”
Her confidence is born from a five-bout winning streak, which includes a trio of victories in a busy second half of 2018.
She has also studied her opponent closely, and though she believes Yamaguchi has an underrated ground game to go along with her top-class striking, she can find weak links in her armor.
The Pankration World Champion is also well-versed on her feet and has a dangerous submission game.
“I’m keen to get another win, of course, but Mei will not give me an easy fight,” she adds.
She has just got back into the winning corner with a win over Jomary Torres. She must be hungry to get another win and improve her record.”
“I think Mei and I are a good match. I can’t tell who has more chances to win, as I believe it is all in God’s hands, but I am doing my best to get the win, so let’s have a great night on 31 March in Tokyo.”
One thing that is not likely to faze the young Russian is the fact that she will step out into the lion’s den.
Though most of the crowd in Tokyo will be pulling for her opponent, she is used to that feeling – having traveled to China on several occasions to compete against native athletes.
More often than not, Lachkova had her hand raised on foreign soil, and she believes she is prepared to do the same at ONE: A NEW ERA.
“I think I’ve fought quite a lot for my age, and I’m not new to fighting on my enemy’s territory,” she adds, calmly.
“Of course, the Japanese people will support their fighter, but I know that exactly the same thing would happen if we fought in Russia, it’s only fair.
“Whatever the audience is going to throw at me, I am ready.”