Kiamrian Abbasov is not exactly lacking in self belief. The 26 year old might not have been most people’s pick as ONE Championship’s number one welterweight contender but he felt a shot against reigning champion Zebaztian Kadestam was inevitable,

“I was at home, having dinner with my family when my manager called me. I felt pretty excited (but), to be frank, I could not see anybody else who could be a strong opponent to him so I knew the day was coming soon.”

Abbasov challenges for the welterweight title at ONE: ‘Dawn of Valor’ on Friday. The likes of Cosmo Alexandre and James Nakashima might be waiting in the wings but the Kyrgyz fighter is not lacking in ambition either,

“If I win this fight, I would like to become a double champ! I would like to try my luck in the middleweight division against Aung La Nsang.”

Weak point

Only Ben Askren has beaten Kadestam since the Swedish fighter signed with ONE Championship. The champion has finished all his other opponents inside the distance but if Abbasov is intimidated he isn’t letting it show,

“I know absolutely nothing about him, other than he is bald and got a beard! I have not crossed paths with him before, but we will meet each other, and it will be a long, hot night, we will get to know each other a bit closer!”

On a more serious note Abbasov is well aware of Kadestam’s striking prowess but sees one obvious weakness which he plants to exploit,

“He seems to be a physically strong guy and a good striker but his weak point is his wrestling. I have better wrestling.”

Uncharted territory

Kadestam has fought several five rounders during his career, and has some late finishes. For Abbasov this is uncharted territory

“My training has been different because I will fight a five-round battle for the first time. It means that I need to be much stronger so I have been working on my endurance a lot. I want to know if I can go for five rounds, I want to know if I can go the whole distance. It is a test and a challenge for me,” he said.

Abbasov recognizes that this is a huge opportunity. At ONE: ‘For Honor’ he fought in the main event and stopped UFC veteran Yushin Okami.

Prior to that he headlined ONE: ‘Destiny of Champions’ and finished local favourite Agilan Thani. Abbasov knows what it means to be at the top of a card and is excited to see his name in big letters again,

“Every fight in my career matters and every fight camp is tough because I always want to be a winner but the invitation to the main event is (always) special.”

Specific preparation

The champion’s style is unique. He is a competent boxer who is dangerous with all eight of the Muay Thai weapons and Abbasov has been preparing specifically for him,

“My training partners have been doing their best to emulate Zebaztian’s style. Obviously, training at the gym and fighting in that cage is not the same but this fight camp has been intense both technically and in terms of workload.”

Abbasov has a big advantage when it comes to experience, at least in MMA terms. He put together a 10 fight winning streak on the highly competitive Russian scene to earn his ONE Championship contract.

“I have never tried to pick opponents, I have never tried to get a particular guy to get a better record. I have had 25 pro fights in my career, and I faced everyone.”

The only man to beat Kadestam in recent years has long since left the organization. His status as the top welterweight on the ONE Championship roster is well established and Abbasov is determined to dethrone the undisputed king on Friday,

“We will find out who is the king of this division. That’s exciting!”