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Mixed Martial Arts

Izagakhmaev proves to be a monstrous addition to loaded ONE lightweight division

Saygid Izagakhmaev was as good as advertised, turning everyone who tuned into his highly-anticipated ONE Championship debut into believers.

The Dagestani wrestling machine dispatched former World Title challenger James Nakashima in their three-round lightweight bout at ONE: Heavy Hitters, Friday evening at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Among those impressed by Izagakhmaev’s debut was ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, as he gave the debutant, alongside Senzo Ikeda and Ekatarina “Barbie” Vanderyava, US$50,000 performance bonuses after the show.

Sityodtong praised the 27-year-old protege of MMA legend Khabib Nurmagomedov, especially with how he dominated an NCAA wrestler in Nakashima.

“I thought he had performance and gameness, phenomenal technique, and finishing instinct,” Sityodtong said in the post-event press conference.

Izagakhmaev had that rare combination of size, skill, and killer instinct the moment he got into an advantageous position over Nakashima, and then he finished him.

After a slow first round where the American forced him into a striking battle, the Russian finally turned the match into his game as he quickly got Nakashima to the ground in the second round with his ferocious wrestling.

From there, he mounted Nakashima and then beat him up for a bit before submitting him with a body and arm-triangle choke early in the second round.

“He was very impressive. I spoke to Khabib. He said, ‘Chatri, [he] is the best fighter in his weight class on the Eagles fight team.’ He said, ‘This guy is an absolute animal,’” Sityodtong shared.

“When you look at the technique, and you look [at the size], he’s a monster at lightweight. I can’t believe he’s a lightweight. He’s huge. [He dominated] a world-class grappler like James Nakashima. James has been working on his grappling relentlessly, and he got dominated completely.”

The arrival of Izagakhmaev only made the already loaded lightweight division tougher as ONE Lightweight World Champion Ok Rae Yoon has another monster to watch out for.

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Izagakhmaev quickly made his intentions known by calling out former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki and multi-time World Champion Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez in a colorful post-bout interview.

Sityodtong stated that while there are no final decisions yet, those matches are certainly on the horizon.

“Either one [would be great]. We’ll have to go talk to the team,” Sityodtong said.

“I think Shinya versus Saygid would be amazing; Eddie versus Saygid would be amazing. Those would be amazing fights.”

Up next, catch ONE: ONLY THE BRAVE on January 28 by downloading the ONE Super App.  

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