The Dutch-Moroccan striker engaged in a thrilling battle with Anderson “Braddock” Silva in Shanghai, China on Saturday, 15 June and pushed his ONE Championship slate to a perfect 4-0.
However, despite his victory via unanimous decision and his impeccable record on the global stage for martial arts, he is still not fully satisfied with his performance inside the Baoshan Arena.
“Well, it didn’t go the way we planned. I had a lot of setbacks in my preparation,” Khbabez reveals.
“The last weeks, we didn’t train, so in the fight, I couldn’t stick to the game plan. The only option was to go for it and fight — try to switch the button in your head and go!”
It was impossible to tell he had suffered such serious setbacks in training as he displayed skill, heart, and desire to overcome an experienced rival.
The result was three rounds of heavy-hitting, high-octane action. It may not have been flawless in his eyes, but the fans could not have wished for anything more, and because of that, the ARJ Trainingen representative considers the match to have been a job well done.
“For me, it’s important that the fans enjoy it,” he offers.
“My trainer always says winning [is important]. Yes, but the way we win is even more important. We always go for it, we don’t come to play.
“[The reception from the fans] was amazing. There really are no words for it, and I really enjoy it. This is why every time I step into the ring, I give my all for you guys!”
“The Tank” came out of the blocks at full speed and dropped “Braddock” in the first minute of the opening round. It looked like it could be a short night for the man from Sao Paulo, but the Brazilian veteran got back to his feet and immediately went on the offensive.
Many others would have shied away from the toe-to-toe exchanges after they had hit the deck against a power-punching adversary, but Silva’s warrior spirit kept him moving forward.
He played his part in the epic encounter, and Khbabez holds his rival in high regard because of it.
“To put on a fight like that for the fans, you need two fighters. This guy has fought the best guys in the world, so we know that he is a fighter. All the respect to Silva,” he says
“I felt good, and I really wanted to finish him but, as I said before, I wasn’t myself. Normally when I bite, I don’t let go. You could see in the fight, I bit and then, many times, I stepped back to go in again.
“I really wanted to finish it, but I am glad that this happened to me now, and not in a World Title fight.”
Khbabez’s stock has risen massively yet again with another win and another incredible performance in The Home Of Martial Arts. He will take the lessons from it and put them into practice in his next encounter, which he hopes will be for the World Championship gold.
It is impossible to deny his credentials – his peers with the same unblemished 4-0 record in ONE Super Series are either World Champions like Nong-O Gaiyanghadao and “The Baby Shark” Petchdam Petchyindee Academy, or have earned a World Title shot like Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon.
It appears a matter of when and not if he will get a chance to compete for a belt, and “The Tank” is desperate to get his hands on one.
“The World Title means everything to me,” he states.
“I want to be the ONE Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight World Champion, but that is up to the bosses. I don’t know what they are thinking, so we will see.”
He adds that when that time comes, he will refuse to let anyone stop him from getting to the top of the mountain.
“My confidence is in my mindset. Nobody [messes] with my bread,” he says.
“If you come to take it, prepare yourself, because we will go all the way.”