Timofey Nastyukhin has gone through plenty in ONE Championship, and he hopes that the payoff comes this Thursday.
Nastyukhin will finally challenge for the ONE Lightweight World Title when he takes on Christian “The Warrior” Lee for the strap in the main event of the previously-recorded ONE on TNT II which airs on One Sports on April 15.
In his stint with the promotion, the Russian has experienced great victories alongside crushing setbacks. Now, he’s hoping to experience becoming a ONE World Champion.
“There have been many ups and downs, many surgeries, big fights, and big victories, and now I’m more worthy than anybody else to fight for this belt,” Nastyukhin said. “My time has come to fight for the belt and it gives me even more motivation and confidence. With God’s will, I’ll be able to win it.
“Christian Lee is still very young. His time will come in the future. For now, he should give way to me.”
While he hasn’t experienced being a World Champion yet, Nastyukhin isn’t short of big moments inside the Circle.
In his debut in 2014, he silenced the partisan Filipino crowd when he knocked out would-be World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang inside the Mall Of Asia Arena to announce his arrival to the organization.
He split his next seven bouts, competing in both lightweight and featherweight. Then he got the biggest win of his career, knocking out debuting Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez in just one round.
A win over Pieter “The Archangel” Buist solidified his claim as the next challenge to Lee’s crown. But although he’s been on a good run, he knows he’s the underdog to Lee.
“He’s a very young and explosive opponent. He’s very ambitious. I have a lot of respect for him,” Nastyukhin said. “He’s a universal athlete. His unpredictability and speed in striking can be dangerous. He can be dangerous in wrestling and he has good control [on the ground], so he can be dangerous in all aspects, basically. The same as me.
“That’s why we specifically train to face him. We have studied him. We’re going through his work and doing everything to minimize this risk.”
Despite that, he knows that matches aren’t won on paper, and he doesn’t mind the underdog status.
“I’m used to fighting as an underdog, my whole career is built on this. When there’s a big challenge in front of me — when there’s a champion in front of me or someone with better ratings — it actually motivates me more and lights a fire under me.”
When a fire lights under him, Nastyukhin gets a little wild. And when he gets a little wild, fights usually don’t last long.
“I’ll be preparing for all five rounds, but based on our fights, we are both pretty strong punchers, so this fight might end in any round,” Nastyukhin said.
“Of course, we want to finish the fight in the first round — and to finish it with a spectacular knockout in my style.”
Watch the previously recorded “ONE on TNT II” on ONE Sports or ONE Sports+ at 8:30 a.m. Philippine Standard Time (PHT) on Thursday, April 15.
Both ONE Sports and ONE Sports+ will have an encore showing at 8:30 p.m. PHT on Friday, April 16.
Also, there will be an encore showing on TV5 at 12 a.m. PHT on Sunday, April 18.
Read More From ONE Championship: