Such is Demetrious Johnson’s reputation that a fight against him has just as much allure as a title shot for many flyweights. That certainly seems to be the case for Kairat Akhmetov who hopes he can secure a shot at the former UFC star with a win tomorrow night.
Akhmetov is facing Tatsumitsu Wada and believes a win could earn him a shot at Johnson,
“I grew up watching (Demetrious Johnson’s) fights, he is the top pound-for-pound fighter, and I would be interested in testing myself against him. I would love to see if he is as great as they say and also see what I can show in a fight against him,” he said.
First of all he has to get past Wada who posed Johnson all sorts of problems. The Japanese veteran has been on the wrong side of a couple of split decisions in his ONE Championship career and Ahmetov thinks he is a better fighter than people give him credit for,
“Wada is a great fighter with a lot of experience. He has had wins under his belt in ONE. He is tall, experienced, and faced some amazing opponents in the past. The luck was not always on his side, but let’s see how he shows up this time when he meets me.”
"The Kazakh" is a different breed 😤 Don't miss Kairat Akhmetov and Danny Kingad COLLIDE this Friday at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II! #WeAreONE #ONEChampionship#ONEWinterWarriors2 | How To Watch: https://t.co/TP1EQ96v6z pic.twitter.com/VILkYB1NBA
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) December 15, 2021
The unranked Wada comes into this contest on the back of two decision wins. Akhmetov has won his last four and thinks the two flyweights will put on a fight to remember,
“Our fight will be epic, I am sure. We will show everyone what the true heart of MMA is.”
Akhmetov is currently #2 at flyweight but shoots down the suggestion that he is unhappy about being matched with an unranked opponent,
“If ONE has matched us up against each other, it means we are at the same level. And it’s true, he has had some tough luck and some good luck. Maybe he is not in ONE’s top five now, but I consider him to be a very strong opponent.”
The Kazakh is well aware of his opponent’s qualities,
“He has strong grappling skills, he is good on his feet, quick, agile. I am sure he has done his homework and trained to combat my strong qualities. We both have our game plans. Let’s see whose game plan turns out to be better.”
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Akhmetov comes from a wrestling background but sees himself as a well rounded fighter. But he believes his biggest asset is his mental strength,
“I am good in both the stand-up and on the ground, so I will be able to go wherever he goes. But I want to push him. I am mentally very strong. I really hope he shows up in his best form so I can test all my skills.”
Akhmetov would also be interested un a trilogy fight with champion Adriano Moraes. He wants to put in the type of performance that gives ONE Championship matchmakers no option but to offer him the biggest flyweight fights.
“Now there is a question mark over our situation (because him and Moraes are 1-1) but a trilogy would be a full stop. I want to finish him (Wada) early but I am prepared to go for all three rounds. I want to dominate him both in striking and in grappling. There will be no compromises.”
But Akhmetov wants to make it clear he is not looking past Wada,
“I don’t want to think too much about what happens after Wada. He is my goal for now.”