Few Muay Thai athletes have looked as composed and technically superb in ONE Super Series as Panicos Yusuf.
He will face Muangthai P.K.Saenchaimuaythaigym in a bantamweight contest at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Muay Thai maestro Panicos Yusuf goes for back-to-back ONE wins on 9 November!Singapore | 9 November | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelion18
Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, October 29, 2018
Yusuf, a two-time Muay Thai world champion, admits feeling some nerves as he entered the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines for his promotional debut at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS. However, once he stepped into the cage, he felt at home.
Throughout most of the three rounds, he dominated his Chinese opponent by controlling the pace of the bout and scoring with powerful counter strikes to earn a unanimous decision.
“I knew Han had half of his wins by KO, and I knew he was a good boxer, but I have fought in the West a lot against Europeans – they are all brawlers or boxers – so I was never intimidated by his hands,” the 33-year-old says.
“I was aware, but I wasn’t scared. I knew what I needed to do, which was to time my left body kick every time he came in to catch him out.”
However, it was not entirely smooth sailing for the Manchester resident.
With little more than a minute left on the clock, it seemed like he had a comfortable lead on the scorecards, but then he got caught flush on the jaw by a cannon of a right hand, which made him do “the Bambi dance on ice.”
Han has ended matches with strikes like that, so it showed how durable and tenacious Yusuf is that he was able to survive and continue to push back against his opponent – landing strikes and dominating in the clinch.
“Obviously, in the third round, he caught me. I lost focus for a bit, but I did what I needed to do and took the win,” explains Yusuf, who moved his record to 37-6.
“It was weird. It blew my head the other way and then came back. I wasn’t dizzy, but my body just went like jelly. I knew he was going to come at me, so I was just trying to get my feet underneath me to move or defend.
“As it was, he didn’t come forward, and that just made me hungrier, and I wanted to go in and bang with him. My corner was shouting at me to calm down and stay back because I had won already and there was no point.
“He was right, because I reckon if [Han] had caught me with one more good one, he would have dropped me for an eight-count at least, so that’s why you’ve got to listen to your corner.”
The magnitude of the victory was only enhanced by the success Han has gone on to have in ONE Super Series – with two wins in his two subsequent bouts.
Yusuf now has the chance to record his second win in The Home Of Martial Arts against Muangthai, one of the most exciting and dangerous practitioners of ‘the art of eight limbs.’
The 24-year-old from Buriram, Thailand, who is known by his nickname “Elbow Zombie,” comes in with an outstanding 195-40-4 record, but the All Powers Gym representative is confident ahead of his assignment.
“I’ve got to be really careful of his elbows. He moves forward a lot – he’s an aggressive fighter,” Yusuf says.
“But it’s a three, three-minute round fight. Plus, we’re fighting with mixed martial arts gloves. I’ve fought with those, he hasn’t. He’s been knocked out, and I haven’t, so we’ll see.”
The Cypriot also believes a win against the three-time Muay Thai world champion, who he considers to be one of the most talented strikers on the planet, will establish him as a leading name in ONE Super Series.
If the bout with Han was just the appetizer for his run in the world’s largest martial arts organization, this encounter in Singapore will be the main course.
“The real fights are now,” Yusuf continues.
“I’ll just fight whoever they give me. I don’t care. I’m 33 now, so if I’m going to mix myself up with the best, I’m going to do it now. I don’t have time to build myself up.
“After him, what’s a more difficult fight? Maybe equally as difficult, but no one that’s going to be harder than him. If I can mix it up with him, and mix it up and do well, I’m happy with that.”