Shamil Gasanov will be headlining ONE Fight Night 18. It was an unexpected promotion for the Russian with his featherweight fight against Oh Ho Taek getting bumped up to main event status after a last minute reshuffle.

It means there will be even more eyes on the #4 ranked Russian when he competes at Lumpinee Stadium this Saturday. Gasanov is coming off the first defeat of his entire career and admits he contemplated quitting the sport after his submission loss to Garry Tonon at ONE Fight Night 12,

“On the way home I thought, ‘that’s it, I’m not going back to fighting again’. I’d always told myself that if I lost, I would leave the sport.”


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A post shared by Shamil Gasanov (@shamilcobra)

True warrior

In MMA it is very rare for a fighter to retire undefeated. Sooner or later just about everyone loses but Gasanov says it was only the reaction he received from the Russian public that made him reconsider,

“Back home every kid, every schoolboy on the street came up to me and asked me when I was going to have a rematch with the American. So now, I simply must have a rematch.”

In order to secure it he will need to beat Taek. According to Gasanov multiple opponents refused to fight him and he respects the Korean for accepting the challenge,

“My opponent is a true warrior. A lot of fighters rejected my challenge. Only this guy stepped up to the plate and I’m incredibly grateful.”


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Well rounded

Taek’s most recent fight lasted just 44 seconds. He was stopped in the opening round by Akbar Abdullaev at ONE Fight Night 8 but Gasanov thinks his opponent is a much better mixed martial artist than he showed that day,

“He’s a well-rounded fighter with a combination of striking, grappling, and submission skills. He didn’t have the chance to showcase his full arsenal against Akbar in their 40 second bout.”

Gasanov spent time in Russia after his loss to Tonon but the 28 year old spends most of his time in Phuket. He is based at Tiger Muay Thai and says he has been pushing himself hard despite an ongoing knee issue,

“These past months have been a challenging period for me as I’ve been recovering from a knee injury. However, I’ve been pushing myself hard to get back in training, as my coach has strictly prohibited me from resting until I avenge my recent defeat.”


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Right direction

Audiences at Lumpinee Stadium are more accustomed to seeing Muay Thai bouts than grappling contests. Gasanov thinks his upcoming fight could fall into the latter category but assures fans that there will be no shortage of entertainment on offer,

“I anticipate a grappling-heavy encounter, as I love to grapple, and he excels at submitting his opponents. I’m confident that our clash will be the most thrilling fight of the evening.”

At the end of the month Tonon faces Martin Nguyen at ONE 165 in Tokyo. Gasanov is desperate to secure a rematch with the American and he can take a step in the right direction by beating Taek in this Saturday’s main event.