Kairat Akhmetov has been on the ONE Championship roster since 2015. He hasn’t fought as frequently as he would have liked but the 34 year old believes he can recapture the flyweight title.

Akhmetov held the belt from 2015 to 2017 although he only ever fought in two title fights during this period. His career has clearly been disrupted by injuries but he believes he is back to his best,

“I’m 100% ready with no injuries or anything bothering me. I feel excellent. I’m ready to make a show and perform at my best,” he said.

Kairat Akhmetov kicks Dae Hwan Kim

Peak of his powers

Akhmetov faces Danny Kingad in a flyweight title eliminator which is being broadcast this Friday at ONE: ‘Winter Warriors’ Part II. He has been a professional since 2010 but feels he is only just reaching the peak of his powers,

“At this moment, I’m at the peak of my capabilities. I was immature before my thirties. I started developing late in my life, it’s in my genes. Members of my family develop late. When my peers were strong and able-bodied, I still looked like a boy.”

His early results were impressive under the circumstances. Akhmetov won his first 23 fights. But he believes the best is yet to come,

“My father used to tell me ‘(the) time will come and you will get stronger, but it will take some time’. My physical parameters only started developing after 30. I think I will be at my best in the next two to three years.”

Kairat Akhmetov punches Adriano Moraes 2

Familiar foe

The fight has been in the works for the best part of a year and Akhmetov has had plenty of time to familiarize himself with Kingad,

“It’s not our first camp, we already prepared to fight with him before. I studied him well, and I think he studied me too,” he said.

The Kazakh is impressed by his opponent’s versatility but doesn’t think Kingad will be able to stuff his takedowns,

“Kingad is not one sided. He can fight standing. He is physically strong, and he knows wrestling well. He is versatile, and I like it. It will make for a competitive bout. But of course, since my wrestling skills are higher than his, I will put him down, for sure.”

Kairat Akhmetov takes down Dae Hwan Kim

Homecoming dream

Before the pandemic ONE Championship was looking at the possibility of putting on an event in Kazakhstan. Akhmetov dreams of one day fighting Demetrious Johnson in his homeland,

“After winning this bout, I would like to fight for the title, or with Demetrious Johnson in my homeland, Kazakhstan,” he says.

He is one of only three fighters to ever beat reigning champion Adriano Moraes and would like to race the Brazilian a third time,

“We have business to finish with Adriano Moraes. The score is 1-1. I think we ought to make it a trilogy. But I don’t want to make guesses.

His appearances might have been sporadic but despite seeing several fights cancelled due to illness or injury Akhmetov has quietly put together a three fight winning streak. He wants to win the title a second time and believes he is on track to do just that,

“I’m happy. I have three wins in a row, and I am fourth in the rankings. This motivates me to become the champion.”