Tarik “The Tank” Khbabez’s all-action performances have made him one of the most popular and successful athletes in ONE Super Series to date, and now he is ready to convert his stunning form into championship gold.
The Dutch-Moroccan superstar, who has posted an unblemished 4-0 record in The Home Of Martial Arts, will challenge KLF World Champion Roman Kryklia for the inaugural ONE Light Heavyweight Kickboxing World Title at ONE: AGE OF DRAGONS on Saturday, 16 November.
Khbabez called for a World Title shot following his last dominant victory over Brazil’s Anderson “Braddock” Silva in June, and his wishes were granted by ONE Championship.
“Finally, it’s a dream coming true,” the 27-year-old says ahead of the co-main event showdown inside the Cadillac Arena in Beijing, China.
“I have been working and training so hard for this, and now it’s my time to show the world that I’m the best.”
Kryklia is a familiar name to “The Tank.”
The two previously met in the 2015 SUPERKOMBAT Heavyweight World Grand Prix Finals in Bucharest, Romania, and Khbabez earned a unanimous decision victory to capture the tournament crown.
Although four years have passed since their initial encounter, the ARJ Trainingen representative still believes he holds the advantage over his 28-year-old rival.
“It was a tournament, and I stood up to him in the final. As everybody could see, the victory was mine. I fought how I was supposed to fight and stuck to my game plan,” Khbabez recalls.
“I have grown in experience and technique since then, and this has been showing in my latest fights. I have the right people around me who train me, and they know what is good [for me] to improve myself.”
There is quite a difference in physicality the Dutch-Moroccan will need to overcome if he wants to claim a second consecutive victory against his old foe and strike ONE World Title gold.
Kryklia is a towering figure at 200 centimeters tall, which is a whopping 16 centimeters bigger than “The Tank.”
To make up for the height disparity, Khbabez intends to lean on his relentless pressure and powerful boxing. That tried-and-tested formula has been effective in shutting down bigger opposition, and he believes it will serve him well in their high-stakes rematch.
“I don’t experience any issues with somebody being tall. I have fought other tall fighters. With my aggressive style, I have beaten him once, and I will beat him again,” the man from The Hague asserts.
“I don’t worry about his strengths. I’m ready to bring war. I can see weaknesses in his arsenal, but that is something everybody will find out on 16 November.”
When Khbabez steps through the ropes, fans know they can expect a thrilling ride for as long as the bouts lasts.
There will be no mysterious strategy or secret techniques — just the Dutch-Moroccan’s trademark intensity, fueled by an even bigger desire to leave the Chinese capital with the ONE Light Heavyweight World Championship.
“I always bring what the fans want and are waiting for. I bring war to the ring, and the fans love that,” he adds.
“[Winning the World Title] would be the crowning [achievement] of my hard work and dedication. It’s everything I have been aiming for. It will show the world that I’m the best light heavyweight champion.”