After registering back to back wins in 2022 it sounds like Amir Aliakbari is feeling confident. The Iranian is coming off a victory over Brandon Vera at ONE 164.

It represented something of a turnaround for Aliakbari who was knocked out in his first two ONE Championship fights. Those losses don’t appear to have affected his self belief and he proclaimed himself to be the best heavyweight on the roster,

“This year, ONE showcased some good heavyweights and all of them are good fighters, but I have shown that my level is much higher than everyone else’s.”

Newly crowned

Newly crowned heavyweight champion Anatoly Malykhin might have something to say about that. He knocked Aliakbari out in the opening round last year.

But the Iranian knows he hasn’t earned a shot at the champion just yet. Instead he has his sights set on rematching the other opponent who put him away in 2021,

“I don’t care who I fight next, I will fight anyone. But I would like to have a rematch with Kang Ji Won.”

Aliakbari is coming off a win against a former champion. After the loss Vera announced his retirement and the Iranian says he has a lot of respect for the UFC veteran,

“I have a lot of respect for Vera. He has a very good past in MMA. But I had done a moment-by-moment analysis of his fights, and I used my strength to finish him.”


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Trash talker

He has a reputation for being a bit of a trash talker. But Aliakbari says there is no animosity between him and his opponents once the fight is finished,

“I have no respect for my opponents before a fight, but after the fight, I love them all because we create history together in our lives.”

ONE Championship has not been to the Middle East since 2014 when there was a fight card in Dubai. That was before Aliakbari’s time and he does not appear to be aware that the event happened.

But the promotion recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Media City Qatar that will see segments of The Apprentice Season 2 filmed there. At some stage there will surely be a live event and Aliakbari wants a spot on the card,

“I am the best and most famous fighter in the Middle East, and when ONE holds their first card in the Middle East, you will all understand what I mean!”

Aliakbari talks the talk but this year he has also waked the walk by winning both his fights. He is looking to prove that he has put his disastrous 2021 behind him and is extremely optimistic about what 2023 might hold,

“I have gathered myself and I am going forward with all my strength to destroy and knock out my opponents.”