Former ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov is excited for his return to the Circle this Friday, July 22.
It’s an intriguing stylistic matchup, as both competitors are elite submission specialists. And with that in mind, Gafurov can’t wait to test his ground skills against the talented Costa Rican.
He told ONE Championship:
“I wanted to be matched up with him. Ariel is a great and challenging opponent. We are both grapplers, he likes to attack and move forward, just like me. So, it’s an interesting challenge to check my skills and abilities against his.”
“Cobra” has frequently displayed his grappling expertise since inking a deal with ONE Championship in 2014.
Seven of his nine wins in the organization have come by submission, including a remarkable streak of six consecutive rear-naked chokes. That run featured a 41-second victory over Martin Nguyen to capture the vacant featherweight belt and impressive World Title wins against Narantungalag Jadambaa.
But while grappling is his strongest trait, Gafurov has also worked hard to develop his striking and believes it will be a major factor versus “Tarzan.”
“I am a dangerous fighter not just for Ariel, but for any opponent. It’s a very difficult task to take me down, and even harder to submit me. For a grappler like Ariel, this fight can get really hard if he fails to take me down because he will have to face me on his feet.”
Despite his confidence, “Cobra” will have to be wary of Sexton, who’s recorded 10 submission finishes in 13 career victories.
The Costa Rican veteran loves to hunt for takedowns and immediately goes to work on the canvas when he senses an opportunity.
But while their game plans are very much alike, Gafurov feels like he’ll have the edge at ONE 159.
“We are similar – two aggressive grapplers. We prefer offense to defense. In a stand-up, we like to push forward. But I am physically stronger, and my control on the ground is better than his. Anything can go during the fight. Let’s see what happens.”
Marat Gafurov Wants To Put On A Show For The Fans
When Marat Gafurov steps onto the global stage this Friday, he wants to put his most recent loss to ONE Lightweight World Champion Ok Rae Yoon behind him.
The Dagestan native can do that by getting an impressive win, and he envisions a highlight-reel finish of Costa Rican opponent Ariel Sexton.
Above all, “Cobra” wants to showcase his complete skill set and treat the crowd to something special.
“I want to give the audience a spectacle of a fight. I have been away for a long time, so I want it to be a memorable show for them and for myself. I hope we have a chance to fight both in stand-up and on the ground. I am aiming for an early finish via submission or TKO.”