There are some big names on the ONE: ‘Big Bang’ card but Roman Kryklia’s name is right at the top. The Ukrainian will be defending his light heavyweight kickboxing title against Murat Aygun at the Singapore Indoor Stadium next week.

He is coming off the biggest win of his career against Tarik Khbabez at ONE: ‘Age of Dragons’ a year ago. Kryklia sees several similarities between that title fight and his upcoming defence,

“I think Murat is a very similar kickboxer to Tarik Khbabez, who I faced in my previous fight. They have strong hands and I think in close distance this is Murat’s main weapon. He throws many punches and many kicks, so I think he will try to come close to me and punch me.”

Roman Kryklia punchesTarik Khbabez

Winning streak

Kryklia is riding a nine fight winning streak that has seen him win the Kunlun Fight super heavyweight tournament as well as capturing the ONE Championship light heavyweight crown. Whatever he is doing behind the scenes appears to be working but the 29 year old says he has been making some specific preparations for Aygun,

“My coach has made a special strategy for this situation. The main strategy is, of course, to keep distance and keep feeling my opponent. I think this is the main thing. If you feel like you are open and moving, you can do what you want.”

“That is the main strategy, but of course I cannot tell you the secrets of my preparation. You can see it in our fight.”

Roman Kryklia defeats Tarik Khbabez 2

Good genes

Standing at 6’6″ Kryklia is built to compete in the upper echelons of the weight divisions. He thinks genetics have played a part in his success but says his work ethic has also been a big factor,

“The secret of my success is a combination of discipline and dedication. My parents gave me good genes, I was tall and strong but my dad and my coach made sure that I worked hard, and that I respected the gym and the ethos of martial arts.”

The light heavyweight kickboxing division has produced some memorable moments with fighters trading knockdowns. Kryklia acknowledges that facing an opponent of his own size and stature will always be a risky proposition,

“I think any fight in the light heavyweight division always has some risk because one punch can finish everything,” he said.

However he thinks this risk can be mitigated with a cerebral approach to the encounter,

“In this division, there are very many people who are very strong, fast and heavy and they think that they are the strongest but my coach taught me that you must be clever in the fight. I will try to show you this way of fighting.”

Roman Kryklia punches Tarik Khbabez

Strong character

He sees fighting as being a mental test as much as a physical one. In this respect Kryklia thinks he has a major advantage,

“One of my biggest strengths is not only natural power, but the power inside me. The fighter’s character is one of the most important things in the fight, especially in the last round, so I always know that I have some reserve power inside my soul.”

He has never fought for more than four rounds before but with the title on the line next week’s fight could go the full 15 minutes. Kryklia would love nothing more than to score another quickfire KO but is willing to win by any means necessary,

“Of course, I’m waiting for the moment when I can punch hard and finish the fight, but I always prepare for a hard five-round fight.”

The Ukrainian giant will be the biggest fighter on the card at ONE: ‘A Big Bang’ and Kryklia will be hoping to leave a big impression in his sophomore outing for the promotion.