Abdulbasir Vagabov is based in Sweden and he trains with some of the country’s top heavyweights. The 29 year old is riding a ten fight winning streak and says he earned his nickname from some UFC veterans,

“Why do they call me ‘The Dagestan Machine’? I don’t know, Ilir Latifi and Alexander Gustafsson gave me that name so you should ask them,” he said.

At ONE: ‘Unbreakable’ Part II he faces another fighter who is based in Europe. Mauro Cerilli is a former Cage Warriors heavyweight champion but Vagabov is very confident he can overcome the Italian,

“I’m not nervous at all. My opponent should be nervous,” he said.

Big step

The vast majority of Vagabov’s fights have taken place in his hometown of St Petersburg. He sees his ONE Championship debut, which will be broadcast this Friday, as a big step,

“I have competed in different leagues before, but to perform in ONE is a big step in my career. I want to fight with serious fighters, show my skills to everyone, and give ONE a great show because it is a prestigious organization.”

Vagabov’s gameplan is not complicated. He says his mission against Cerrili will be to ‘hit and destroy’,

“I don’t have any plan for this fight. Just hit and destroy. People like to watch heavyweight fights because with two big guys fighting, most fights finish with a KO.”

New generation

Heavyweight title fights have been few and far between since ONE Championship was launched in 2011. Current champion Brandon Vera is approaching his 44th birthday and barely averages a bout a year.

With the recent influx of signings like Amir Aliakbari, Marcus Almeida, Dustin Joynson, Islam Abasov, Anatoly Malykhin and Oumar Kane the division has a more youthful feel. Vagabov believes it is time for a new generation of heavyweights to take over and he wants to be at the forefront,

“Brandon Vera is a good fighter. He is a veteran. I respect him, but it’s time for the young heavyweight fighters. To be the champion in ONE means being one of the best in the world. I want to win the belt and motivate the younger generations in Russia to do sports.”

Ten of Vagabov’s wins have come inside the opening round. It is a record he would like to improve this week but the Russian says that fast finishes are just a natural by product of his fighting style,

“I never plan to finish the fight in the first round, it comes naturally. Anything can happen in the fight (but) the most important (thing) is the spirit, and I have it.”