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.
“I lose but I learned much more than when I win,” 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,
“So 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 won’t know it’s a hole in your game until you get exposed in a fight.”
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,
“I was just hesitant. I was worried because we went five rounds and I thought I would gas out if I went all out,” Khan revealed.
“That part of my training, I didn’t have any strength and conditioning, I didn’t have any specific conditioning program for the fight.”
Khan won’t 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.
“If you win the Grand Prix, you fight for the world title belt. There’s 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),” Khan says.
“I feel the whole Grand Prix overshadows their fight.”
“I 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.”
Before he can get too far ahead of himself, Khan first has to go through Sexton in his opening round matchup and he knows that’s 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 that’s what he has to do to get the job done,
“He’s very talented on the ground, he’s very tricky. His striking is a bit awkward to fight with. He’s lanky. He throws big looping shots. He has a good body lock. His best weapons are his tricks on the ground,” 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,
“He’s not a kickboxer or a world class striker but he’s awkward and if you’re not ready for that awkward style, you’ll be shocked on that night and he’ll catch you with shots. I would expect a lot of striking exchanges so I have to be really prepared for how he strikes. He doesn’t strike the conventional way. He doesn’t put his hands up, he kind of dips his head, he swings wildly. I’m focusing a lot on those scenarios.”
Khan promises he’s ready for anything and everything that Sexton will throw at him and he plans on countering with more offense than his opponent can handle.
“I’m looking to finish Ariel Sexton,” Khan said.
“I 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 I’m 100% confident in my stamina and my main thing is not to think. Just leave it all out there.”