ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat Gafurov is undefeated at 13-0, (Reuters Photo/Contributor)

Marat Gafurov Wants to Show his Striking Skills at ONE: KINGDOM OF CHAMPIONS


MAY 26, 2016

If you’ve watched any of Marat Gafurov’s four ONE Championship fights then you will know that the Russian usually wins with a rear naked choke. He’s done so every single time he has fought for Asia’s biggest MMA promotion.

But the reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion says there is more to his game than submissions, and Gafurov is hoping to showcase a slightly different set of skills against Kazunori Yokota at ONE: KINGDOM OF CHAMPIONS.

“I can fight in a stand-up too. I don’t always get a chance to demonstrate it but my stand-up is not bad,” said Gafurov. “My base is wushu sanda. Sometimes I am able to demonstrate what I am capable of, sometimes not.”

It’s worth noting that before he submitted Rob Lisita with one of his trademark rear naked chokes, Gafurov had knocked the Australian down with a head kick. It could easily have been a KO win, and the Russian would love to add a few more of these type of wins to his record, stating: “To be honest, I would like to finish it via a knockout, I am tired of submissions.”

It’s a sign of how high Gafurov sets his standards that after going 13-0 and claiming titles with two promotions he is still not happy. The Russian has emerged as one of the most dominant featherweights in the world but is constantly striving to improve and evolve.

In his most recent fight, Gafurov unified the ONE Championship Featherweight Championship by submitting Narantungalag Jadambaa in the fourth round. It was one of the best fights of 2015, and the 30-year-old says he was surprised by his opponent’s physical and mental strength.

“It was a very hard fight, I won it only due to my willpower. The opponent was really strong, I didn’t expect it from him,” recounted Gafurov of Jadambaa.

That matchup took place a few weeks before ONE Championship introduced new regulations to prevent fighters from dehydrating themselves to make weight. Gafurov says he found it tough to get down to the featherweight limit before he faced Jadambaa,

“I had a very hard weight cut and felt weak before the fight. I didn’t demonstrate all I was capable of, but I will show it next time.”

His opponent is the reigning Deep featherweight champion, and a veteran of the Japanese MMA scene who is riding a 13-fight win streak. The Russian is impressed by what he’s seen of Yokota so far.

“I couldn’t find videos of his recent fights, but I watched a couple of older videos. He is not bad. I don’t see any particularly strong points (but) he has got a bit of everything, a well rounded fighter.”

Despite never having lost a fight, Gafurov remains humble, and the Russian is taking nothing for granted as he prepares to fight in Bangkok for the first time,

“You should never underestimate your opponent. I think he (Yokota) is a good opponent, but I am always confident I can win.”