The most dominant ONE Featherweight World Champion in history will be in the building when The Home Of Martial Arts returns to the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia.
If he can beat Tetsuya “MMA Fantasia” Yamada (26-6-2) on the main card, then he will show the world he is back in business and on course for the top once again.
Fun fact: From 2014-2016, Marat "Cobra" Gafurov won six in a row, ALL by rear-naked choke! ????Jakarta | 3 May | 6:00PM | Watch on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneforhonor19
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, April 19, 2019
The Russian grappler is fired up to return to the Circle. By the time he steps under the lights to face the ZST Welterweight Champion from Japan, he will have been out of action for more than seven months.
Although he has kept busy since last October, he is craving the thrill of battle and the opportunity to prove himself on the global stage for martial arts once again.
“I’ve been asking ONE for a long time, but I got my chance only now,” he says.
“I took some time off at first – I needed to rest. I did light training after – guys from Russia come to my gym in Dagestan to prepare for their fights, so I sparred with them.
“I am absolutely thrilled [to be back]. I’ve been itching to fight again. Long breaks are not good for fighters’ mixed martial arts careers.”
The 35-year-old will face a strong test of his credentials against Yamada in Jakarta. “MMA Fantasia” has won both of his featherweight matches in the world’s largest martial arts organization by stoppage to emerge as a potential challenger for the division’s throne.
Marat "Cobra" Gafurov strikes again on 3 May! Jakarta | 3 May | 6:30PM | Watch on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneforhonor19
Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, April 15, 2019
However, Gafurov is not concerned with Yamada’s form. The Top Team Makhachkala athlete has encountered his upcoming opponent on the mats before, and he says he has not seen anything to make him worry.
“It will be a fight like any other, I don’t think my opponent is that special,” he states.
“I met him in the past at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket. We went to the same classes and wrestled together. He is okay.”
Having said that, “Cobra” is far from complacent. His past mistakes in striking exchanges led to the end of his reign with the gold, and he is determined not to disappoint his fans in that way again.
The intensity of his training and work ethic has never been in doubt, but now he has modified his preparations to cater for a southpaw opponent, and has planned to adjust his approach when the first bell rings.
“Now I know that many mixed martial artists have been watching and analyzing my fights. I have to come up with something new if I want to stay at the top,” he explains.
“Perhaps I should start working on more defense in stand-up, in contrast to my usual aggressive attacks.”
Given both athletes’ records and skill sets, a convincing victory for either man could propel them toward a date with ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen, who defended the belt for the second time earlier this month.
That is at the forefront of Gafurov’s mind. He has a win against Nguyen – as well as two over the Vietnamese-Australian’s last opponent, Narantungalag “Tungaa” Jadambaa – so he believes he belongs in the same echelon as them.
That is why he is filled with confidence that he can get his hand raised on 3 May, and march on toward his ultimate goal throughout the rest of 2019.
“I don’t feel any pressure, I think I can beat this guy. What I really want is to enter into the cage and prove that my losses were a fluke,” he adds.
“I hope that if I keep on winning the next several bouts, that by the end of this year I could challenge the World Champion.
“I hope Martin can keep the belt until I get a chance to challenge him and take it away from him.”