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ONE 159: Marat Gafurov aiming for one final run at ONE Gold

Singapore, July 5: Former ONE Featherweight champion Marat Gafurov aims for one final run at ONE Championship gold and will look to start the quest for another when he faces Ariel Sexton at ONE 159: De Ridder vs. Bigdash on July 22 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium..

There was a time when Gafurov was the king of the ONE featherweight division. In fact, he defeated Martin Nguyen at ONE: ODYSSEY OF CHAMPIONS in September 2015 to claim the ONE Interim Featherweight World Championship.

Three months later, he defeated his staunch rival Narantungalag Jadambaa to become the full-fledged ONE Featherweight World Champion. He then successfully defended the title twice before losing it to Nguyen at ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS in August 2017.

After which, he had three more contests at featherweight, including a grappling match versus former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya Aoki. However, Gafurov made the official switch to lightweight in 2020 and has won one of his three fights in the division.

But after his defeat to current ONE Lightweight World Champion Ok Rae Yoon at "ONE on TNT III" last April, the 37-year-old Russian warrior is making what could be a final run at a ONE World Title. His quest for another belt starts against Sexton at ONE: 159.

The fighting pride of Dagestan will be competing on the lead card of the said event, and he will have his hands full against his Costa Rican foe. A win by the Top Team Makhachkala representative could lead him to compete against other promising contenders in the division.

Gafurov will look for opportunities to utilize his grappling skills, which have brought him seven victories in ONE Championship. But forcing Sexton to tap out won't be easy because he also has a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background. The competitor from Team Daniel Gracie has won four fights inside the ONE Circle via submission and is riding a two-fight winning streak.

Therefore, Gafurov must find a way to outwit his opponent if the match goes to the canvas. Likewise, he must also keep his guard up to deal with the punching power of Sexton, who has one knockout victory in The Home of Martial Arts under his belt. A convincing win over Sexton would turn heads and further Gafurov's journey of becoming a two-division ONE World Champion.

As Gafurov competes on the lead card, the main event of ONE 159 will feature two-division ONE World Champion Reinier de Ridder, who will defend the ONE Middleweight World Championship against Vitaly Bigdash.

Also, ONE Atomweight Kickboxing World Champion Janet Todd takes on WBC Muay Thai World Champion Lara Fernandez for the ONE Interim Women's Atomweight Muay Thai World Title.

Source: Media Release

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Story first published: Tuesday, July 5, 2022, 14:37 [IST]
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