Not many people picked Sammy Sana to win the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix before it started. But he probably got a few votes after his quarterfinal victory over Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex.
Sana faces Dzhabar Askerov in the semifinals, and a win over the formidable Russian puts him in a Finals duel with the winner of the Giorgio Petrosyan-Smokin' Jo Nattawut match. Both Semifinal matchups take place at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD on 16 August at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.
Sana obviously would love to follow up his monumental win over Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex by winning the entire tournament. That would make him the first-ever ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Champion and take home prize money of US $1 million.
There’s a real possibility he could face another legend like Petrosyan in the Finals, but he shouldn’t look past Askerov. If he loses in the semis, his shot at the title could be put on hold.
He is only 30 years old and is just entering his prime, especially as a kickboxer. He has participated in K-1, Muay Thai and kickboxing, where he has had the most success with a perfect 3-0 record.
Sana hit a rough patch in his professional career during the period of July 2014 to January 2015. He lost five straight matches competing in K-1 and Muay Thai. He took five months off, returned to competition, and went unbeaten for 10 bouts.
Since his down period, Sana registered a record of 6-2-2 with two wins by knockout or technical knockout across all three combat sports. His victory over Yodsanklai was revenge for the loss he suffered against the Thai legend in 2013 in a Muay Thai match.
If he reaches the Grand Prix finals, he’ll face an opponent that he's familiar with. Sana lost a Muay Thai battle with Nattawut under the ONE Championship umbrella in February. He rebounded with the win over Yodsanklai and Nattawut rolled to a victory in the quarterfinals over Sasha Moisa.
Nattawut is now on a four-bout winning streak. If Nattawut can't get past Petrosyan and "The Doctor" advances, he will be looking for his own bit of revenge against the Frenchman on behalf of his brother Armen Petrosyan.
Sana scored a unanimous-decision victory over Armen in November 2018, which was a victory that might have landed him a spot in the Grand Prix. Like Sana, Petrosyan shouldn’t look past Nattawut, whom he's beaten once before. At this point, the Grand Prix seems wide open.