The Turkish star owns a 100 percent finishing rate, seven first-round victories, and a 5-1 record in his last six fights.
Along with those accomplishments, Arslanaliev was the first man to halt former divisional king Christian Lee’s perfect finishing rate when they squared off in the 2019 ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship Final.
As he eyes the top prize, we gathered the 27-year-old’s thoughts on the reigning World Champion, his old rival, and three other contenders who own top-five spots in the Official Athlete Rankings.
ONE Lightweight World Champion Ok Rae Yoon
Dagi Arslanaliev: “He trains a lot and he is a solid athlete, but yes, I can see gaps in his striking and some more in his wrestling.
“To be honest, I think his style is a bit strange. You can call it erratic.”
#1-Ranked Contender Christian Lee
DA: “I don’t want to speculate about whether he deserves this place or not. I like him as a sportsman. He trains a lot, he can strike and grapple, and his stamina is good.
“But his place in the top five needs to be challenged, and I should be the guy who does it. We do need a rematch. It is time to negotiate, sign [a contract], and execute it. A rematch with him and a title fight is what needs to happen. And if he wins? Ok, no problem.”
#3-Ranked Contender Shinya Aoki
DA: “For me, he is a dark horse. I know that his grappling is strong. He used to have somewhat of a legendary status, but recently, Shinya lost several bouts when trying to bring the action to the canvas.
“Maybe he needs to either retire or fight smarter. Aoki lost to Christian Lee when Christian followed him to the canvas and won. Shinya Aoki is not invincible. Nobody is.”
#4-Ranked Contender Iuri Lapicus
DA: “Lapicus has a strange fighting style. He must have fought some chefs in the kitchen in the past, or I don’t understand where his record (14-1, 1 NC) comes from. Well, more like how he is so weak with this record?
“His style of fighting does not match his skills. I am not going to comment on his fight with Marat Gafurov. In any case, for my next fight, I am looking at those with a higher ranking.”
#5-Ranked Contender Saygid Izagakhmaev
DA: “He is a great grappler, he can put on a lot of pressure. It is hard to imagine that I would fight him. I think he is talented and has a good future in ONE.
“I am amazed that after only one fight he shot up into the top five.”