The 24-year old Evolve MMA trained fighter fought valiantly for all 25 minutes against reigning champion Eduard Folayang but still came up short in a unanimous decision loss.
As disappointing as it was to leave without the title, Khan prefers to look at the entire experience as a lesson learned that will only make him that much better when he goes for gold again.
âI lose but I learned much more than when I win,â Khan said ahead of his next fight at ONE: ‘Call to Greatness’ on February 22nd.
“When you win, you take away something from it but not that much. When you lose, you can see the holes in your game, what you have to work on. Even simple errors like me getting pressed against the cage. I was too complacent. I was too relaxed. I was chilling there too much. I just needed to break away from the clinch and break away to my range.”
For Khan the decision defeat to Eduard Folayang was effectively a five round life lesson,
âSo I feel little things like that, I feel like you see all those details when you lose. When you get back to training, you want to improve on those smallest details. You wonât know itâs a hole in your game until you get exposed in a fight.â
Immediately after that fight was finished, Khan went right back to the drawing board with his coaches at Evolve MMA to fix what went wrong including a conditioning concern that ultimately prevented him from being able to pull the trigger that night,
âI was just hesitant. I was worried because we went five rounds and I thought I would gas out if I went all out,â Khan revealed.
âThat part of my training, I didnât have any strength and conditioning, I didnât have any specific conditioning program for the fight.â
Khan wonât have to wait long to show off his improvements because he faces Ariel Sexton in the opening round of the ONE Lightweight Grand Prix on Friday night.
The winner of the entire tournament will not only receive a Grand Prix championship belt but that person also gets the opportunity to challenge for the lightweight title against either Eduard Folayang or Shinya Aoki, who face off for the second time at ONE: ‘A New Era’.
In many ways, Khan feels like the Grand Prix is an even bigger opportunity than the title fight because of the attention being paid to the tournament.
âIf you win the Grand Prix, you fight for the world title belt. Thereâs a Grand Prix belt, too. So you get to fight for a belt in the finals and then the winner of the finals faces the winner of Eduard (Folayang) and Shinya (Aoki),â Khan says.
âI feel the whole Grand Prix overshadows their fight.”
âI think more people are paying attention just because the matchups are so interesting. There are big names. Everyone is on the edge of their seats. They know who is going to face who. I just feel people get to talk about this than the title fight.â
Before he can get too far ahead of himself, Khan first has to go through Sexton in his opening round matchup and he knows thatâs not an easy task.
The Renzo Gracie trained lightweight has shown off world class grappling skills on the ground while also proving he can go toe-to-toe with an opponent on the feet if thatâs what he has to do to get the job done,
âHeâs very talented on the ground, heâs very tricky. His striking is a bit awkward to fight with. Heâs lanky. He throws big looping shots. He has a good body lock. His best weapons are his tricks on the ground,â Khan said about Sexton.
Sexton is not known for his striking but he has hurt a few opponents in standing exchanges, including Khan’s current coach Eddie Ng. Khan says he is prepared for the Costa Rican’s awkward style,
âHeâs not a kickboxer or a world class striker but heâs awkward and if youâre not ready for that awkward style, youâll be shocked on that night and heâll catch you with shots. I would expect a lot of striking exchanges so I have to be really prepared for how he strikes. He doesnât strike the conventional way. He doesnât put his hands up, he kind of dips his head, he swings wildly. Iâm focusing a lot on those scenarios.â
Khan promises heâs ready for anything and everything that Sexton will throw at him and he plans on countering with more offense than his opponent can handle.
âIâm looking to finish Ariel Sexton,â Khan said.
âI feel you have to finish every fight in the Grand Prix just to make a statement. Right now, I have a good conditioning program and Iâm 100% confident in my stamina and my main thing is not to think. Just leave it all out there.â