Singapore: ONE Championship™ (ONE) athletes competing at the upcoming ONE: REVOLUTION event recently participated in offline interview sessions for the media.
Reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian Lee, #3-ranked lightweight Ok Rae Yoon, heavyweight contenders Amir Aliakbari and Anatoly Malykhin, former two-division ONE World Champion Martin Nguyen, and ONE Championship debutant James Yang, all answered questions regarding their upcoming bouts.
Hear from the athletes before they step inside the Circle this Friday night to do battle.
On what is left to achieve after beating Ok Rae Yoon:
For me, there is no ceiling. I feel that in any professional sport, when you put a limit [on yourself], when you put a ceiling on what you want to accomplish in the sport, once you reach that, there’s no more motivation. There’s nothing more to push you. So for me, winning the world title is just the beginning. I’m still just as hungry as I was before I won the belt, and I’m just going to continue knocking off the contenders and defending my belt.
On the possibility of moving up to welterweight:
I do feel that I’ll be able to make the adjustment in weight necessary to compete at the top of the welterweight division. But right now, Ok Rae Yoon, he’s a very dangerous competitor in front of me, so I’m not looking past him. Assuming that all goes well in this fight, I’ll take some time off and get myself ready to move up for a welterweight super fight.
On what makes Ok Rae Yoon a dangerous fight for him:
Ok, so what makes Ok Rae Yoon so dangerous is the fact that he is a good fighter with a good skill set and he consistently shows up and brings his A-game every time he steps in there. I watched his previous fights, he always brings his A-game and he’s always ready to throw down. He’s had some tough fights, he had some good wins but I never really see him go in there with a bad performance. I think that Ok Rae Yoon is going to bring his best game and I think he’s absolutely going to be trying his very best to seize this moment in front of him. If I take any credit away from him, if I look past him one bit, that gives him an opportunity to capitalize on that. So I’m treating Ok Rae Yoon as the best fighter in the world and it’s my job to take him out.
Ok Rae Yoon:
How he thinks the fight with Christian Lee will play out:
You know, I believe that the whole bout, the flow of the bout won’t be so different from my two previous bouts. I believe that Christian Lee will look for that explosive takedown and I’m going to be defending all that. I’m going to be aggressive at the same time but defending all those takedowns and try to keep it on my feet. So I believe the whole flow will be similar to my previous two bouts and that’s how I see it.
His opinion of Christian Lee as a fighter:
I believe Christian Lee is younger and Christian Lee is a lot faster than my previous opponents. He will be very fast, looking for that explosive takedown to put me on the floor, on the ground. That’s the biggest difference that I see and that would be all. I believe that he will be fast and he will be explosive looking for that takedown.
How he feels being the underdog in this fight:
I actually don’t mind if I’m the top dog or an underdog because it’s just what people think, right? Because I wasn’t really given as many opportunities as my opponents to showcase my skills and show them my performance. I believe it would just change. All I’m curious about is that if I win, when I win on Friday night, I’m just curious about what people would think of my next bout after that — if I would still be the underdog or if I will be the top dog after that. I don’t really care, I don’t really mind. Like I said, the top dog or underdog comes from what people think and what people expect so it’s probably because I didn’t perform to the level of what they expected from me. I think it all comes down to my performance, so I’m just going to focus on how I perform well, how I prove to the people that I’m on that level and probably it will change someday.
On moving on from the knockout loss to Kang Ji Won:
It was a very painful and tough loss, but this is the nature of the game. Anything can happen on any given night. I’ve definitely moved past it, but not just moved past it. I’ve learned from it, taken notes, and will be carrying that into this fight. The last fight, it was just a mess because there were four fights back to back that were canceled, the opponent was changing day by day. There were a lot of issues that came up. We lost focus. We just wanted to get the fight over with, so this fight, we have taken time, we studied our opponent, and we are prepared for him.
On other heavyweights underestimating him:
None of these guys are on my level. They are not even on the level of my pinky, and I’ll show that. I’ve won four World Titles and these guys haven’t even gotten third place, so they don’t know what they are talking about. They are daydreaming, and when they see me in the cage — starting with Anatoly — they’ll wake up real quick.
On representing Iran in MMA:
There is a lot of pressure because ether people from Iran are always behind me, and they will all be watching. There will be a large audience watching this fight. They expect me to win this fight after my last loss. They have a lot of expectations for me, and I believe that pressure has made me stronger. I’d just like to thank everyone who watches the fights and I hope to put on a show for all the viewers.
What he thinks of Amir Aliakbari as a fighter:
He’s very strong and he has very good grappling and wrestling as well. But he has a lot of weaknesses as well. He has been knocked out a couple of times, but we cannot underestimate him. We will see in this fight.
On why he’s going to win this fight:
I think I’m on another level. Firstly, I’ve never been knocked out and this is a big factor. Secondly, I think mentally I’m way stronger, and in terms of physical, in this part, I promise you guys, it’ll be very minimal wrestling. I’ll be way better at striking so the fight will mostly focus on striking and the rest, you guys will have to see.
On potentially competing for the heavyweight world title:
Now I’m fully ready and I’ll be more than happy to accept this fight. You know Russia’s big and Russia’s waiting for its heavyweight champion. And if ONE Championship organizes the fight in December, that would be the biggest and the greatest gift that I would have from ONE Championship.
On the biggest lesson he learned from the Thanh Le fight:
I feel like my skills are always there no matter what and I’m only getting better. The main thing I took out of that fight was mentally preparing better inside my head. Now that I’ve put that behind me. I accepted what had happened last October. Early this year there were fights that have dropped out, it gave me a bit more time to recuperate and get back stronger.
His opinion of Kim Jae Woong:
He’s a tough opponent, he’s a good opponent. He’s the next guy in line, just another guy that I’ll be fighting. He’s just a pressure fighter, he likes to come forward like a zombie. We’re just going to do our thing. I’ll keep the movement going and pick him apart as he comes forward, so we’ll see what happens. Fight night could always be different but I like to go with the flow and see what he throws and see if he can handle what I throw and go from there.
On Kim Jae Woong calling him out:
I was a champion for three consecutive years. I’ve been called out for the last three years. Even climbing the ranks, I’ve been called out. It’s nothing new to me. He did what he had to do to get that next shot. I think he’s trying to use me as a fast-track to the title but I don’t really care, it’s just another fight for me. He can keep talking, he can keep doing whatever, I don’t really care. I’m just going to do my thing.
On what fans can expect in his ONE Championship debut:
I want to put on the best performance of my life. Just brutal, violent — that’s what I’m trying to bring into the ring. Just looking for the finish. I appreciate that compliment but I’m just doing my thing, I’m following my passion. My love is an understatement for martial arts. I’m just following my dream, living my dream actually. It’s great to get the attention, but it’s what I prepared for and I’m just gonna roll with it.
On his unique fighting style:
We just take where the fight goes and I’m ready to go anywhere. Just adapting to the opponent is key so being well-rounded is the number one thing you can do in this sport to be successful, I think. Not neglecting any training, any one aspect of the game, you have to round all the bases and make sure you’re constantly trying to improve and work on your skill sets to get better. Same as any other fight, the guy’s going to try to take my head off and I’m gonna try to do the same thing to him.
His thoughts on upcoming opponent Roel Rosauro:
Roel [Rosauro] is very good at strikes. He has a striking pedigree, I think. His deficiency is wrestling. But I don’t know, maybe he’s been preparing this whole couple of years and he’s been wrestling, I don’t know. I can’t just look at a video and say that ‘this guy is bad at this.’ I can see his tendencies, but for all I know, that guy could be working on all of those things. I’ll be working on my weaknesses too. I don’t think about it too much. I just prepare the best that I can and work my skill sets. Make sure everything is tight and crisp and I just go in and fight, that’s it.
Main Card For ONE: REVOLUTION
(c) Christian Lee vs. Ok Rae Yoon (ONE Lightweight World Title)
(c) Capitan vs. Mehdi Zatout (ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Title)
(c) Joshua Pacio vs. Yosuke Saruta (ONE Strawweight World Title)
Martin Nguyen vs. Kim Jae Woong (featherweight – mixed martial arts)
Amir Aliakbari vs. Anatoly Malykhin (heavyweight – mixed martial arts)
Victoria Lee vs. Victoria Souza (atomweight – mixed martial arts)
Lead Card For ONE: REVOLUTION
Lito Adiwang vs. Hexigetu (strawweight – mixed martial arts)
Petchdam vs. Taiki Naito (flyweight – Muay Thai)
Marcus Almeida vs. Anderson Silva (heavyweight – mixed martial arts)
Petchtanong Petchfergus vs. Zhang Chenglong (bantamweight – kickboxing)
James Yang vs. Roel Rosauro (featherweight – mixed martial arts)
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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