Barely two months since he was last seen in action, former ONE Flyweight World Champion Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov is raring to enter the ONE Championship cage once more with an attempt to put himself back on the winning track.
Akhmetov’s last bout did not go his way as he suffered his first professional career loss at the hands of Brazilian rival Adriano Moraes in their rematch at ONE: KINGS & CONQUERORS in Macao, China last August 5.
The previously-unbeaten 29-year-old Kazakh bowed down to Moraes in their title unification bout by way of five-round unanimous decision.
With the drive to reinsert his name into the winner’s column, Akhmetov chose not to wallow over his setback this past August as he jumps right back into action by squaring off with Filipino dynamo Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio.
Both men are set to face each other in the main event of ONE: TOTAL VICTORY, which takes place at the Jakarta Convention Center in Jakarta, Indonesia on 16 September.
“It is very important for me to recover from that loss and get back on a winning streak,” Akhmetov stated. “Now, it is important for me to stay active. I want to compete as often as possible.”
Prior to his second encounter with Moraes, Akhmetov had been away from the cage for nearly two years due to incredibly adverse circumstances, including a back injury that almost forced him to call it a career.
Although he got all of his affairs in order, Akhmetov did not get the results that he wanted in his return to action.
Unlike their first meeting, there was a definitive winner as Moraes showcased a much-improved takedown defense and negated Akhmetov’s world-class wrestling to score a unanimous decision victory and become the undisputed flyweight champion.
Akhmetov chalked up the disappointing defeat to his Brazilian arch-nemesis to his long layoff and inactivity.
“I felt very rusty from the beginning, and after the first round, my hands started to feel heavy and tight. I could not throw punches like I used to – the speed was not there. In the later rounds, I just battled with my heart. But it was not enough,” he bared.
“After the final round, I knew I lost the match. Adriano did everything right, and I could not follow my game plan. I take my hat off to him. I do not want to look back and regret things. My preparation was great, but Adriano was a better man that night. Right now, the score is 1-1,” Akhmetov added.
Akhmetov is looking for a rubber match with Moraes, but he will have to earn his way back to world title contention first as he is scheduled to lock horns with Eustaquio.
Eustaquio, who trains out of the legendary Team Lakay alongside the likes of ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang and ex-featherweight kingpin Honorio Banario, is a former title contender who lost to Moraes in a clash for the inaugural ONE Flyweight World Championship back in September 2014.
Despite experiencing mixed results in the bouts to follow, as well as a brief campaign in the bantamweight division last year, Eustaquio made a thunderous return to the flyweight division this past May when he defeated Thailand’s Anatpong Bunrad via split decision in a rematch.
“Geje Eustaquio is a good striker with decent takedown defense, and he has a good team behind him. I do not think he has a lot of weaknesses,” Akhmetov said of Eustaquio.
Akhmetov acknowledged that he has his hands full against Eustaquio, but the former champion vowed to do everything in his power to walk out of the Jakarta Convention Center with the win.
“My advantage should be my wrestling and ground game, but I am not going to rely only on that. I am willing to test myself against him on the feet, and show what my hands can do. I envision every possible scenario, from a quick win, to a tough decision where I overcome adversity. Whatever he brings to me, I will be ready for it,” he stressed.
No longer haunted by the title loss to Moraes, Akhmetov is hungry to get back in his winning form and restart his campaign to become a world champion once again in the sport.
“Jakarta will be the starting point of another impressive run for me. I am here to win. I am excited to get back in the cage and compete. Defeat is part of this game, and the important thing is to come back better. The body is ready, the mind is strong, and the spirit is willing,” he declared.
“Geje Eustaquio is one of the best competitors in the division and a victory over him will mean a lot. I have one goal, and that is to get back my title. I will take care of anyone who stands in my way,” Akhmetov ended.