Tagir Khalilov was already preparing to compete at ONE Fight Night 12 in Bangkok on Friday, Jul. 14, but the Russian striker never would have expected he’d be headlining the star-studded event.
Due to a change atop the card, Khalilov now finds himself stepping into flyweight Muay Thai action against the division’s top-ranked contender Superlek Kiatmoo9 in the night’s signature contest.
The challenging battle could be a potential career-changer for “Samingpri,” and he plans to take every advantage.
“Opportunities like this are rare, and I want to climb to the very top in this organization. I want the ONE Championship belt, and to become the best, you have to fight the best,” Khalilov told ONE.
“I discussed everything with the team, and we accepted the challenge. Everyone knows that I’m not looking for easy ways – I made my ONE debut against Rodtang on one week’s notice.”
Initially scheduled to battle Elias Mahmoudi, Khalilov switched his focus in the final days of his camp when he was offered the main event.
A last-minute change may throw a fighter off their game, but the in-form striker says the transition was easy due to a previously scheduled contest with Superlek in 2022.
“The change in opponent didn’t really affect my training camp. We made some small adjustments,” Khalilov stated.
“I had already prepared for Superlek back then when we were booked to fight, so I had a game plan in place. We had to revise the old plan, but we didn’t change much.”
The Thai superstar is seen, by large portions of fight fans, as the best flyweight striker on the planet, and that notion was cemented further after his stellar first-round knockout of Nabil Anane at ONE Friday Fights 22 on Jun. 23.
Superlek’s slate may be intimidating to most, but Khalilov is confident he has the keys to victory for the July 14 showdown.
“In my view, the keys to beating Superlek are definitely good boxing, good footwork, and somewhat of a kickboxing style. I’ll need to deceive him, throw power shots, and punch in combinations,” he said.
The Russian star knows this is his chance to burst through the flyweight ranks and emerge as one of the top contenders. If he can defeat Superlek, Khalilov envisions a date with divisional king Rodtang Jitmuangnon in the near future.
That has the 30-year-old motivated to capitalize on his upcoming opportunity.
“If I win, my reputation as ‘The Thai Killer’ will be reinforced even more. I’m ready to shock the world,” Khalilov flatly stated.
“I’m confident I can defeat Superlek. I’m at the peak of my career, and I’m very charged – both physically and mentally. I’m ready to win.
“Victory should be one of the last steps on the way to the ONE Championship belt. My goal is to defeat Superlek, then meet Rodtang and take the belt away from him.”
ONE Fight Night 12 airs live on Prime Video on Friday, Jul. 14, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. The event will be free for all Amazon Prime members in the U.S. and Canada.
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