Turkish lightweight Dagi Arsalanaliev has found himself at a very good place in his mixed martial arts career.
The rising star is 5-1 in his last six bouts, which includes a third-round TKO of former ONE Lightweight World Title challenger Timofey Nastyukhin last December – the promotion’s “2021 MMA Fight of the Year.”
With momentum on his side, #2-ranked Arslanaliev is on the cusp of challenging for the divisional gold himself.
And if he does claim the belt, he’d become the first athlete from the Middle East to own a ONE World Title, a huge accomplishment that’s been many years in the making.
He told ONE Championship:
“I would be honored, of course, as it is a very prestigious title. It would be a great achievement for me. Nothing I have now was served to me on a plate. It was achieved through hard work, sweat, and perseverance. I have been working hard, made no excuses and kept going, so if I get to the very top, it would feel like I have achieved an amazing goal.”
“I am 27 years old, I am reaping the fruits of my labor, but it took a lot of time and work to get where I am now. I was not born rich, so everything I have, I owe to sport and discipline.”
Meanwhile, ONE Championship recently laid out plans for the company’s expansion into the Middle East.
Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong was in Doha this week to attend the annual Qatar Economic Forum, where he announced that ONE had formed a strategic long-term global partnership with Media City Qatar.
The news has been met with much excitement in the region, and Arslanaliev would be especially thrilled to see a live event held in the Turkish capital of Istanbul.
“ONE does amazing shows – the quality is great, and I think the promotion and events like that will be received very well. This region and especially Turkey has some great talent when it comes to combat sports. It has great kickboxers, great wrestlers. The talent pool is deep.”
“I think ONE could have a great run in the Middle East. Most of all, I want ONE to come to Turkey and start organizing big-scale events there. I would like to show my fans some action, make them happy, and show some great fights. It’s a big country that offers many opportunities. If there was an event in Istanbul, I am sure I could sell out the whole stadium.”
Dagi Arslanaliev Says Sports Can Help Save Troubled Youth
For Dagi Arslanaliev, the best part of representing Turkey in the world’s largest martial arts organization is serving as a beacon of inspiration for his people – especially the next generation.
Before moving to his adopted country, Arslanaliev grew up on the rough streets of the Republic of Dagestan in Russia.
And given that experience, he understands the dangers and problems that adolescents face when they lack guidance.
Those issues aren’t easy to overcome, but the 27-year-old martial artist believes that getting involved with sports and athletics can help point a child in the right direction.
“I have a message for all the youngsters in the Middle East. The worst thing is being lazy. Bad things happen when kids just hang out on the streets, when they have no goals, no aspirations. I think that sports is great. It is amazing for the body and the mind.”