Dagi Arslanaliev is ready to put his one and only legitimate loss behind him and start his climb back up to the top.
The fighter, who many consider to be the 'boogeyman’ of the Asian martial arts organization’s 170-pound weight division, is raring to make his return to the Circle, two years removed from his loss to former ONE lightweight world champion Christian ‘The Warrior’ Lee.
The two met in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship Final in 2019. Dagi Arslanaliev advanced to the final round of the tournament following a pair of first-round knockouts over Ev Ting and Amir Khan.
He was scheduled to face former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, but the American had to pull out of the competition due to injury. Lee stepped in to replace Alvarez and ended up dominating Dagi Arslanaliev for three rounds en route to a unanimous decision win.
Now, years later, Dagi Arslanaliev detailed exactly what happened in that fight and why he lost in a recent interview with ONE Championship.
“I was sick two weeks before I fought Christian. I had meningitis and really had a bad time, but I had a lot of responsibilities on my shoulder because my fight was one of the main events. I had to keep preparing so I went for it. I was not strong at all. Meningitis is very unpleasant and it took a lot of power out of me. But still, I lost, and now I’m ready to come back.”
Meningitis is an inflammation of the fluid and membranes (meninges) surrounding one’s brain and spinal cord. The swelling from meningitis typically triggers signs and symptoms such as headache, fever, and a stiff neck.
The climb back to the top begins for Dagi Arslanaliev
Dagi Arslanaliev is set to take on No. 5-ranked Timofey Nastyukhin of Russia in a pivotal rematch between the top ONE lightweight contenders. The bout goes down at ONE: Winter Warriors, set to broadcast live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium this Friday, December 3.
The two fighters met previously, with Dagi Arslanaliev scoring a quick first-round knockout of Nastyukhin in 2018. Not looking for a decision at the hands of the judges, Arslanaliev enters the rematch with Nastyukhin as the favorite and he wants to mark his return to the Circle with an explosive victory.
He even pointed out that his fellow Russian opponent’s greatest asset could again be his biggest downfall when they go back to war on Friday night. Dagi Arslanaliev said:
“His physical strength [is his greatest asset]. He’s a very strong guy. However, his weakness is in his strength. He believes too much in his power and not his technique. He goes for power with every punch.”
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The Dagestani expects a much tougher fight from Nastyukhin this time around, but still expects to leave the arena with another impressive win.