When Saygid Izagakhmaev stepped into the circle for his highly anticipated matchup with Shinya Aoki at ONE 163, he had a secret weapon in his corner in the form of a close friend, Islam Makhachev.
Izagakhmaev scored the biggest win of his MMA career, putting away the Asian MMA legend in less than 90 seconds, dropping the former ONE world champion with a big right hand before forcing the stoppage with some nasty ground and pound.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post following his victory, Saygid Izagakhmaev revealed that while the fight was brief, Makhachev played a role in helping him stay calm inside the circle:
“We’ve known each other for the last 15 years and almost half of my day every day, we spend together. So we understand each other. Even if he’s not my natural brother, I feel that he is my brother. In the first round, when Aoki hit me with a body shot, it was painful. I was angry and I wanted to go hard, but Islam said ‘calm down, calm down!’ That helped me a lot, so I appreciated him for being in my corner.”
With the win over Shinya Aoki, Izagakhmaev is now 3-0 in ONE Championship and 22-2 overall.
Watch Izagakhmaev's interview with SCMP below:
Khabib Nurmagomedov sees big things for Saygid Izagakhmaev in ONE Championship
With his third straight win inside the circle, a ONE lightweight world title opportunity could be the next fight for Saygid Izagakhmaev. While when and where that happens is yet to be determined by the promotion, both Izagakhmaev and Christian Lee have acknowledged that they appear to be on a collision course.
Longtime teammate Khabib Nurmagomedov would certainly agree, previously sharing his belief that Izagakhmaev would secure a world title shot with a big win over Aoki.
During an interview with ONE Championship, ‘The Eagle’ also shared his thoughts on Saygid Izagakhmaev and how he and his compatriot are similar, yet stand apart largely due to Izagakhmaev’s striking skills:
“We have a lot of similar things but he’s a little bit taller than me. And he has good Thai boxing and good technique. His elbows, his knees, he’s very good on this. Of course we have a similar base [grappling] but he’s a little bit different than me.”
Do you believe Saygid Izagakhmaev is the next man in line for lightweight champion Christian Lee or will Lee’s recent welterweight title victory throw a kink in those plans?