On Sunday, 13 October, the 24-year-old is set to star in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship Final opposite an icon of mixed martial arts – Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez.
The American superstar has won four World Titles in a career that has made him one of the most popular athletes in the sport for more than 10 years. But his rival from Turkey is confident he can usurp him with a spectacular performance in Tokyo, Japan.
“Dagi” is arguably the most dangerous competitor in The Home Of Martial Arts, and he demonstrated why with two stunning first-round knockouts in the tournament quarterfinals and semifinals to maintain his 100-percent finishing rate.
Now, he is determined to continue his streak with a performance that is worthy of the biggest event in martial arts history.
Before he steps into the Circle to go to battle, the Istanbul resident reveals what he thinks of his upcoming opponent, what it means to face him, and how he has prepared to take him out.
ONE Championship: What are your thoughts on Eddie Alvarez? Have you followed his career closely over the years?
Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev: He is a great fighter, and of course, I have been following his career for ages.
He was a World Champion in other top organizations, so it is an honor to fight him and show my skills against his in ONE.
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ONE: What do you think about the skills he brings to the Circle?
SGA: He fights with heart and he doesn’t give up – he is a true fighter. He has good grappling skills, great stand-up, and his kicks are not bad either.
ONE: What do you think about his semifinal match with Eduard Folayang?
SGA: Folayang missed his chance. He could have knocked out Alvarez, but he didn’t capitalize on several great opportunities during the match.
ONE: How do you see this fight going? How would you like to win?
SGA: It would be ideal for me if we fought on the ground, but for the fans, I want to fight and win by standing with him because it gives a better show.
If he doesn’t drop me, I won’t mind dropping him. When World Champions fall, it makes a lot of noise.
ONE: How are you getting ready for this bout?
SGA: As always, I am training very hard because I want to put on a great show and demonstrate my technique.
This time, I am getting ready in my homeland, in Dagestan [in Russia], where I have the support of my close friends. I feel more focused here. In the past, I used to prepare in Thailand at Phuket Top Team and Tiger Muay Thai, but to be honest, there are too many distractions in Thailand.
When I’m in Dagestan, I feel calmer, I feel more grounded. Maybe this is that place of power for me, where I had to come back to, to feel its energy before this fight. I feel no stress, I train, and I ride horses in my spare time – something I could not do in Thailand.
ONE: Have you made any other changes to your preparation?
SGA: I changed my diet a little bit and added a couple of things to drill – they will be my surprise for Eddie.
Other than that, it is all the same. I will prepare for him just like I do for any other opponent.
ONE: How much are you looking forward to the biggest bout of your career – and does that make you nervous?
SGA: I hope it will be one of the most spectacular shows I have ever been a part of. The ONE production team can put on some great shows, so I hope this one will be a real firework. But, in the future, fingers crossed, I will be a part of even bigger shows.
I am following the media build-up of our fight, and it makes me a bit nervous, but mostly, it puts me in the right mood. I can’t wait for the big day to come. I want to fight.
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization in history has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.