Muin “Tajik” Gafurov (15-2) is back.
After a two-year hiatus from ONE Championship, the Dushanbe, Tajikistan resident will make his long-awaited return at ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES on Saturday, 6 October.
He is scheduled to face BJJ World Champion Leandro “Brodinho” Issa (16-6) at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.
Massive strikes from Muin Gafurov!Bangkok | 6 October | 5:30PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneheroes18
Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, September 24, 2018
Despite his lengthy absence from the world’s largest martial arts organization, Gafurov promises he will be sharp when he steps back into the ONE cage and he is excited at the prospect.
“I do not feel rusty at all,” the 22-year-old says.
“Yes, I have not fought in ONE Championship for a couple of years, but it doesn’t mean I was inactive as a fighter.”
Following his bout against current ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon in October 2016, Gafurov – the organization’s first Tajik martial artist – competed in regional promotions.
The bantamweight accepted four bouts, and he defeated all of his opponents inside the first round – three by TKO and one by armbar submission.
However, his greatest accomplishment was capturing the Combat Sambo World Championship last year. That honor, which he has now earned twice, holds a special place in his heart.
“My uncle, who raised me like a father, is the President of the Tajikistan Sambo Federation, and he coached me well,” says Gafurov, who took up the Russian martial art eight years ago.
“My other uncles have been involved in this sport all their lives, too. They spent a lot of time and effort teaching me all the ins and outs. It was a proud moment to tell them that I became the world’s best.”
Now, Gafurov is re-focused on his mixed martial arts endeavors and has turned his attention to Issa, who has looked sensational ever since making his return to The Home Of Martial Arts in August 2017.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist is on a three-bout win streak, after defeating former ONE Bantamweight World Title challengers Toni Tauru and “Ottogi” Dae Hwan Kim by TKO and decision, respectively, and choking out rising star Roman “Boom” Alvarez.
Although Issa appears to be at the top of his game right now, Gafurov is prepared for whatever comes his way.
“He is a BJJ black belt, so I am sure he will try to use his skills. But I am ready to fight him both in the stand-up and on the ground,” the Tajikistan hero says.
“I feel very strong now. My cardio and physical form are great. I never underestimate my opponents though, because I know that they have the same goals as me. They train as hard as I do.”
While Gafurov has the utmost respect for his Brazilian rival, he still wants to finish him and maintain his 100 percent stoppage rate with a highlight-reel knockout.
“People like a good show and dynamic striking, and KOs are always the best,” he adds.
Should he defeat Issa, “Tajik” will take another step closer to his ultimate goal.
“I hope one day to add the ONE Bantamweight World Championship to the list and bring the belt back to Tajikistan,” he says.
First, he needs to prove himself, and a victory over Issa will get him closer to the top prize.