Tajikistan’s Muin Gafurov is back in ONE Championship, and the 22-year-old is looking to gatecrash the bantamweight title picture after a two-year hiatus from the promotion.
Gafurov takes on established bantamweight contender Leandro “Brodinho” Issa at ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES on Saturday, 6 October in Bangkok, Thailand.
He says he is ready to hit the ground running on his return and score an impressive victory.
“I do not feel rusty at all. Yes, I have not fought in ONE Championship for a couple of years, but it doesn’t mean I was inactive as a fighter,” he says.
After his last appearance in ONE Championship against current ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion Kevin Belingon, Gafurov competed on the regional circuit, earning four straight first-round wins.
He also captured the Combat Sambo World Championship last year – the second time he has earned that honour.
“My uncle, who raised me like a father, is the President of the Tajikistan Sambo Federation, and he coached me well,” says Gafurov.
“My other uncles have been involved in this sport all their lives, too. They spent a lot of time and effort teaching me all the ins and outs. It was a proud moment to tell them that I became the world’s best.”
Now fully focused on his mixed martial arts career, Gafurov faces Issa, who is on an impressive run of form himself – having defeated Toni Tauru, Dae Hwan Kim, and Roman Alvarez.
“He is a BJJ black belt, so I am sure he will try to use his skills. But I am ready to fight him both in the stand-up and on the ground,” the Tajikistan hero says.
“I feel very strong now. My cardio and physical form are great. I never underestimate my opponents though, because I know that they have the same goals as me. They train as hard as I do.”
Each and every one of Gafurov’s 15 career wins has come via stoppage, and the Tajikistan native wants to win inside the distance and continue his 100 percent finish rate.
“People like a good show and dynamic striking, and KOs are always the best,” he adds.
“I hope one day to add the ONE Bantamweight World Championship to the list and bring the belt back to Tajikistan.”