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Meet Shamil Gasanov: The next big thing from Dagestan

Russian MMA sensation Shamil Gasanov is set to dominate the featherweight MMA division in ONE.

The unbeaten grappling specialist will face former two-division ONE World Champion Martin Nguyen on February 24 at ONE Fight Night 7: which will be his biggest opportunity to date.

The fight takes place four months after Gasanov's spectacular promotional debut at ONE, where he dispatched South Korean knockout artist Kim Jae Woong without much of a struggle. He made a huge statement with the first-round submission, which propelled him into the top five in the featherweight division.

Fans are eager to learn more about the emerging sensation known as "The Cobra" as the 27-year-old gets ready for a decisive matchup with Nguyen.

Gasanov was raised in a remote mountain village in the Russian Republic of Dagestan, which has produced some of the best combat sports competitors in the world.

He started wrestling at a young age, following in his father's footsteps, which would prove to be a wise choice over time.

“In my village, you could go to boxing or freestyle wrestling. However, at that time boxing was just developing, it was a novelty, and our fathers had practiced wrestling before, so it was the more logical choice. I liked wrestling, even though I often lost, but I always wanted to be the best and to be the winner.”

The young wrestler's upbringing in a tiny town also turned out to be a recipe for success, pushing him to achieve greatness while being watched over by his supportive, close-knit community.

“For training, you can’t hide in the village. If you missed your 5 p.m. training, everyone knew about it. I went as a matter of principle, even if I was ill, so that the neighbors would not ask me why I was absent.”

Gasanov continued to excel as a student and an athlete throughout his teenage.

He migrated to Rostov-on-Don when he was 17 years old to study and pursue a promising medical career. But soon he was again competing in sports, this time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

When given the option of choosing between academics and martial arts, Gasanov chose the latter, and he hasn't looked back since.

The fight between "The Cobra" and #4-ranked featherweight contender and former divisional king Martin Nguyen is now just a few weeks away.

With a victory, the Russian might find himself vying for the title bout versus Tang Kai.

Gasanov, who is poised to defend his perfect 13-0 record on February 24, is eager to prove himself as the next big thing from Dagestan.


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