Singapore based Indian Rahul Raju scored back to back submission wins in 2019. He finished both his opponents with a rear naked choke and is already looking towards the upper echelons of the lightweight roster.

Raju is a veteran of five ONE Championship bouts. He lost the first three but completely turned his career around last year by submitting Furqan Cheema at ONE: ‘Edge of Greatness’ and Richard Corminal at ONE: ‘Enter the Dragon’.

Most fighters would have been relieved just to have put their losing streak to bed. But Raju is much more ambitious than that,

“Honestly, it’s time for me to prove I am ready to hold the world title. I need a solid performance against another top contender,” he said.

Local rival

In order to get there Raju would like to face another Singaporean based fighter. Amir Khan has already fought for the lightweight title, but has suffered a recent dip in form.

Raju feels that a win over Khan would be the perfect way to demonstrate that he belongs among the division’s elite,

“My team and I, we’ve been looking closely at Amir Khan. I think that would be a perfect match-up.”

With both fighters being based permanently in Singapore he is optimistic the matchup could take place sooner rather than later,

“It will be a complete honor to face him, and a real treat for the Singaporean fans. I believe this fight can happen on the Singapore card in July,” he said.

Potential opponent

Singapore has signaled it might start to ease restrictions on June 1st. It is unlikely that the borders will be opened, meaning that if ONE Championship is to put on cards they will probably consist exclusively of locally based fighters.

That means the prospect of a matchup between Raju and Khan is very real and the Indian has already started running the rule over his potential opponent,

“Amir is very well-rounded. He’s a classy Muay Thai-style fighter with really good striking, plus very good jiu-jitsu skills as well. I definitely have the upper hand on the ground and, if it comes to striking, I believe I can bring him into my style of fighting,” he said.

Khan is a veteran of 18 ONE Championship fights. He has won 12 of them and been in with some of the biggest names in the division like Eduard Folayang, Timofey Nastyukhin and Saygid Arslanaliev.

Evenly matched

Raju respects his opponent but believes that the gap between them has closed so far there will be nothing to choose come fight night,

“I am a fighter that is still polishing myself and I am improving every day, but I still believe our skills will be even.”

Having submitted his last two opponents Raju is understandably confident in his ground game. He confidently predicts that this is an area where he will have an edge over Khan.

With Singapore still on lockdown and ONE Championship having cancelled its May calendar it seems speculative to discuss future matchups.

But Raju clearly believes there is a strong chance the fight with Khan will push through. He already has a game plan in mind.

“I will make it as exciting as I can. I will mix it up. I want to strike with him and grapple with him,” he said.

Khan has been on the ONE Championship roster since 2014. He has held his own in both the featherweight and lightweight divisions but Raju believes this is his time to shine and hopes to have a crack at his local rival sooner rather than later.