Undefeated Dagestani star Aziz Pahrudinov will make his ONE Championship debut looking to score a huge scalp.
Pahrudinov (20-0-1) will take on former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS in Manila, the Philippines on July 27, and rising star says he’s excited to showcase his skills on the global stage with ONE.
“ONE is well-known in Dagestan because of former ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat Gafurov, so I did not think twice about signing with them,” says the 29-year-old.
”The contract with ONE is a great opportunity to fight around the world, and I am excited about my new journey in Asia.”
Pahrudinov makes his promotional debut in a bout that will put his grappling and sambo background to the test against wushu stylist and former ONE Lightweight World Champion Folayang.
“We have had a long history of warfare on our land,” he says, explaining the rich tradition of martial arts in the Caucasus region.
“Generations of men grew up learning how to fight for their lives, [so it is no surprise] wrestling, sambo, and mixed martial arts are really popular in Dagestan.”
His formal martial arts training started relatively late, at 16 years of age, but his passion for training soon took over from his studies.
“I came to study for college, however, my uncle immediately got me into boxing. After a year, I took up combat sambo, and then mixed martial arts,” he says.
“To succeed [in mixed martial arts], you must perfect all aspects of your arsenal – from striking and wrestling to stamina and ground control.
“Honestly, I was a scrapper as a kid. I fought so much – several times a day, sometimes – so a fighting career appealed to me from the start.”
With his brother moving to Moscow to coach at a mixed martial arts gym in the city, Pahrudinov used his family connections to meet matchmakers for a host of organisations and competitions, and was able to negotiate his way into some prestigious tournaments.
He won the WAFC Russian Pankration Championship and the Combat Sambo World Cup before switching his attention to the cage.
”It was time to make more money. I had a family to support,” he explains.
Since then, Pahrudinov has racked up 20 professional wins – 19 by stoppage – and one draw for a hugely impressive record.
Now, he puts that near-perfect slate on the line against former world champ Folayang in Manila.
Pahrudinov knows Folayang’s striking-first style well, and says his own striking skills will stand up to the test against the wushu ace.
“I know he will try and exchange punches with me, but I am confident I can stand against this guy,” he says.
“This will be a test for my character. I belong to a small Avar nation that lives up in the mountains, and being tough is something people in my part of the world do really well.”
That toughness will be put to the test in a cauldron-like atmosphere of the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, where victory will instantly catapult him into contention for the belt.