Artem Belakh makes his second appearance in the ONE Championship ring on Saturday. The Russian will be looking to build on an impressive promotional debut last year.

Belakh beat former bantamweight title challenger and UFC veteran Leandro Issa by decision. Having got the better of the BJJ black belt over the course of three thrilling rounds at ONE 162 he is brimming with confidence,

“The (fight) will thrill the audience (and) what could be more important? I am 100% sure of my win. It will be the best fight.”

He trains at Tiger Muay Thai and appears to have been based in Phuket for several tears. The Russian faces Won Il Kwon at ONE Fight Night 11 and will be looking to emulate the success of his friend and teammate Anatoly Malykhin,

“I’m happy to be a part of ONE, and I’m proud to enter the ring under the ONE banner every time I fight. I am happy to give entertaining and memorable fights. I want to keep doing that and make people continue falling in love with this sport, just like I fell in love once.”

Spoilt for choice

Belakh says he is willing to face the hard hitting Korean anywhere but is confident that he will be the better grappler by the sounds of it,

“I have several game plans depending on how the fight goes and I am ready for any scenario. If I decide to grapple, my coach is sure it will be a submission. My opponent has good striking, but MMA, as we all know, is a combination of striking and ground game. I am interested in seeing what work he and his team did for this fight (because) my team and I are ready and aim for a win.”

Belakh has trained extensively with former UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan. He also shares a gym with Fabricio Andrade so is spoilt for choice when it comes to finding 135lbers to spar with.

Stepping stone

Kwon is a veteran of 11 ONE Championship fights and has won seven of them.  The Korean is currently ranked #4 at bantamweight while Belakh instantly cracked the top five with his win over Issa.

That means that the winner will be in the title conversation and Belakh knows what is at stake at Lumpinee Stadium. He sees Kwon as a stepping stone and wants to make ‘a statement’ when he faces the Korean on Saturday,

“What sets me apart is that I am a true universal fighter. I can fight in stand-up and on the ground, I make good use of all elbow and knee strikes. He is a solid fighter but I see him more as a good opportunity to make a statement about myself.”