Otgonbaatar Nergui has lofty ambitions, and he plans to bring the heat in his ONE Championship debut this Friday, 13 August.
That night, the Mongolian lightweight will square off against Rahul “The Kerala Krusher” Raju in a mixed martial arts fight at ONE: BATTLEGROUND II, and he is determined to begin his tenure in the world’s largest martial arts organization on the right foot.
“I want to be one of the best and most popular fighters in this promotion,” the 34-year-old says. “That’s my goal and dream. I think I have enough skills, strength, and will to make this dream come true.”
Nergui sounds confident, but that’s because he comes from an extensive martial arts background and has practiced many different styles since a young age.
The Batsumber native first learned freestyle wrestling from his late father, who was a candidate for the Master of Sport rank in the discipline. From there, he studied Kyokushin karate and later boxing, combat sambo, kickboxing, and sanda.
That unique hybrid has been the key to Nergui’s success in mixed martial arts. He owns five professional victories, with four of them coming via first-round stoppage.
And in October 2019, Nergui earned his spot on the promotion’s main roster with a spectacular performance against a highly regarded Shooto veteran in the Japanese capital.
“I defeated Takuya Nagata at ONE Warrior Series 8 in Japan, which brought me closer to my goal of making my ONE Championship debut,” the Mongolian says.
Now that he’s officially arrived, the next step will be much more difficult.
Nergui will make his first appearance on the global stage against Raju, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt who trains at Juggernaut Fight Club in Singapore under the watchful eye of Arvind Lalwani.
Lalwani, who previously coached Singapore’s national boxing team, has guided the Indian to seven mixed martial arts victories, including six by stoppage.
Moreover, “The Kerala Krusher” will hold a 10-centimeter height advantage in Friday’s clash at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
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But while that length will allow Raju to fire off punches and kicks from the outside, Nergui isn’t too fazed by the prospect.
“I know from my previous experiences that it’s very difficult to fight someone who has long arms and legs. Such fighters can strike from a distance. I’ve watched his previous fights on YouTube and developed specific tactics based on it,” the Mongolian says.
“Like most tall and heavy fighters, he seemed like a very slow-moving and inflexible fighter. So even though he has a 10-centimeter height and reach advantages over me, I think I can outmaneuver and outpace him with my flexibility and cardio.”
Nergui also knows that his opponent is coming off a pair of first-round knockout losses, and he believes this bout will end in the same manner.
“For me, this battle can end in only one way – me knocking out Rahul in the first round,” he states. “I think I can knock him out, no doubt.”
Such a result would not only push Nergui closer to the official lightweight rankings and his dream of becoming a top fighter in the promotion; it would also elevate the Mongolian mixed martial arts scene as a whole.
Narantungalag “Tungaa” Jadambaa opened the door for his compatriots in 2014 when he won the ONE Featherweight World Title and became the nation’s first MMA World Champion.
This Friday, Nergui will finally have his turn, but he knows this is only the beginning – for him and for the next generation.
“Mongolians have always been talented in martial arts. It’s in our blood,” he says.
“Although our country has a population of only 3 million, it has never lacked brave, talented, and skilled fighters.”