Amir Naseri has spent the past decade competing in major promotions across the world, and he’ll finally get the chance to prove himself against the elite strikers of ONE Super Series.
On May 20, the Iranian-Malaysian athlete will aim to reach the ONE flyweight muay Thai world grand prix semifinals when he battles Savvas Michael in the tournament's opening round at "ONE 157: Petchmorakot vs. Vienot."
Naseri is not taking this long-awaited debut for granted, and he promises to seize the moment at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
"I feel like I've worked hard for this, and I deserve to be fighting for a promotion like ONE," he said. "And yeah, I'm grateful for that. I should have, maybe, been here a bit sooner, but it doesn't matter.
"Right now, I'm here. I'm grateful for that, and I look forward to showcasing my fighting style in ONE."
As diehard muay Thai fans are well-aware, the Tehran native will bring a brand of aggressive striking to the Circle.
Naseri primarily causes damage via his knees and elbows, and on occasions when that isn't enough, he uses every other inch of his knowledge in "the art of eight limbs" to get the job done.
That combination of skill and intellect has powered him to a stellar 29-5-1 career record and a number of impressive accolades.
Most notably, the 30-year-old went the distance with legendary striker Saenchai and also became just the third non-Thai in history to claim the prestigious Omnoi Stadium Championship.
So, while many ONE Championship fans might be unfamiliar with the promotional newcomer, he's ready to take another giant step and make a name for himself on the biggest stage.
"I just want to prove that I'm one of the best foreign muay Thai fighters that have ever fought," Naseri said. "I want to prove that by beating really good guys."
Despite his lofty goals, the Tiger Muay Thai standout admits he will approach this quarterfinal clash against Michael with some caution.
The Cyprus native is a similarly dangerous striker who owns a 43-4 career slate and has finished more than half his fights inside the distance. Moreover, "The Baby Face Killer" has performed well versus elite competition, claiming WBC and WMC muay Thai world titles
But while Naseri respects his foe and expects fireworks in their matchup, he has reason to believe he'll be the last man standing.
“(Michael) is a technical fighter," he said. "I like his style. He likes to go forward, as well. This is something I like to do, and usually, when there's a fight where two guys go forward, you can expect to see a knockout.
"My style is to just hurt my opponent, and I don't like to play around with them. I believe my style is a bit more aggressive and stronger, and I believe that I can beat him."
Naseri believes he could trouble Rodtang in potential bout
For now, Naseri's sole focus is to dismantle Michael in the ONE flyweight muay Thai world grand prix quarterfinals at ONE 157.
Beyond that, the Iranian-Malaysian wants to snatch the tournament's prestigious silver strap, earn the next shot at the divisional gold, and ultimately dethrone reigning ONE flyweight muay Thai world champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon.
"I want to win that belt and become the ONE world champion," he said. "Because I feel like I've taken a lot of title belts, but the ONE belt is the one that I don't have."
Of course, besting "The Iron Man" is easier said than done.
The Thai megastar has dominated the division for years, is undefeated in ONE Super Series, and is favored to win the upcoming ONE flyweight muay Thai world grand prix.
But whether Naseri meets Rodtang in the tournament semifinals, faces him in the final, or secures a world title challenge by winning the eight-man bracket, he seems certain that he could trouble the longtime king with his blend of aggression and power.
"I think my style will be good against (Rodtang)," the ONE debutant added. "I love guys who come forward, and it (would) be a very entertaining (fight). He likes to punch. I like to elbow, yeah. I think it will be a fight fans want to watch."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.