Ilya Freymanov announced himself to the world when he knocked out former two-division king Martin Nguyen in his ONE Championship debut last September. Now, he’s hoping for another dramatic victory to solidify his position as a top contender.
The hard-hitting Russian will square off against fellow slugger Shinechagtga Zoltsetseg in a featherweight MMA battle at ONE Fight Night 11: Eersel vs. Menshikov on Prime Video, which airs live in U.S. primetime on Friday, June 9, and he sees some of the potent tools that the Mongolian brings to the table.
Freymanov comes from a Muay Thai and kickboxing background, so he would be more than happy to go toe-to-toe with anybody.
However, the Russian isn’t sure if his foe will want to keep the action standing when they meet at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
“I think Shinechagtga is a strong opponent. He has dangerous hands. Like Martin, he relies heavily on his striking. He prioritizes it. Shinechagtga might be more diverse, he has experience in classical boxing, and his footwork might be better. It appears that Shinechagtga is a skilled boxer.
“He makes good use of his strengths, which is striking, in general, and good boxing techniques. He knows how to use his hands, but, then again, it won’t surprise me if he tries to use wrestling as an element of surprise.”
After Freymanov’s promotional debut victory over Nguyen, he jumped straight into the #3 spot in the featherweight rankings, and armed with that high-profile win, the Russian feels he’ll have the edge over the Mongolian rising star.
Nguyen was previously the ONE Lightweight and Featherweight World Champion, whereas ONE Warrior Series alumni Shinechagtga is still trying to insert himself into the division’s upper echelon – and the 27-year-old Krasnodar native believes that eagerness could lead to his rival’s downfall.
“They are two fighters of different caliber. Martin is more experienced and went through some tough fights, big fights, and was a double champion for a reason. As for Shinechagtga, he is younger, emotional, and less experienced in fighting.”
Ilya Freymanov Has Tang Kai And Thanh Le In His Sights
Few expected Ilya Freymanov to knock out one of the featherweight MMA division’s most feared strikers in his promotional debut, but he wasn’t shocked that he managed to stop Martin Nguyen in the first round of their battle at ONE on Prime Video 2.
The Russian was straight on the hunt for the finish back then, and that urgency netted him a statement-making victory and even a $US50,000 performance bonus. He’ll look to do it again at ONE Fight Night 11 on June 9, as he knows another highlight-reel KO would accelerate his charge toward World Title contention.
“Personally, I always try to finish the fight early and pick up the bonus, no matter who stands across from me and what game he tries to impose on me.
“An ideal scenario is to end this fight early, get a double bonus of US$100,000, and then fight for the belt next. Now, that would be perfect!”
Even if the Russian were to emerge victorious in Bangkok, he knows there’s no guarantee that he’d get a ONE Featherweight World Title shot. As it stands, Thanh Le will have the first opportunity to reclaim his gold from divisional kingpin Tang Kai.
In the meantime, Freymanov is more than happy to face another highly respected fighter and climb up the featherweight MMA rankings. But when the Krasnodar native finally gets his chance to fight for the belt, he hopes a certain American will be standing across from him in the Circle.
“I am ready to fight a challenger, a champion, or someone with good media exposure. My dream opponent will be the winner of the Tang Kai vs. Thanh Le rematch.
“If Thanh wins, it would be ideal for me. He is well known. I would love the challenge of fighting him.”