BRAVE CF flyweight star Asu Almabaev (16-2) has only one thing on his mind heading into BRAVE CF 66, which goes down in Indonesia, on Saturday, and that is to be a champion.
Upon arriving in Bali, the No. 3-ranked BRAVE CF flyweight sent out a simple yet powerful message to BRAVE Combat Federation. "I want the title fight next," said the Kazakh, who will be facing the unbeaten Filipino MMA athlete and BRAVE CF debutant Kenneth Maningat in the co-main event of the evening.
Almabaev was set to face Bahraini star and former amateur world champion Muhammad Idrisov, but he suffered an injury and had to withdraw from the colossal flyweight bout. A late change in opponent is never an easy situation to deal with, especially when the stakes are so high, however, Almabaev is looking forward to the new challenge.
''This fight will be good. It's a nice matchup. Kenneth is a striker, and I'm a wrestler, so it's a good mix,” says Almabaev, who had an unforgettable 2021.
His rear-naked choke victory over Aleksander Doslkalchuk back at BRAVE CF 53 earned him two BRAVE CF Awards: "Submission of the Year" and "Breakthrough Fighter of the Year."
This year, Almabaev extended his winning streak with two more victories. He beat Imram Magaramov at BRAVE CF 57 before collecting the biggest win of his mixed martial arts career by edging Zach Makovsky at BRAVE CF 60.
He now looks to continue on that upward trajectory post-November 26. "The next thing I want after this fight is the belt, it's the title shot. Give me the belt," added Almabaev, who wants a crack at the vacant BRAVE CF 125-pound belt.
Almabaev is a grappling and wrestling specialist with 82 percent of his 16 wins coming via submission and decision. He is widely recognized as one of the top flyweights in the world and ranked No. 1 in Kazakhstan, Central Asia, and the Middle East.
His opponent – a protege of former BRAVE CF star Rolando Dy – is unbeaten, riding a six-fight win streak in his pro career. His latest win came in August when he secured a first-round technical knockout over his compatriot Mark Oliva. Maningat is a well-rounded athlete with a good ground game and standup, as 66 percent of his wins have come via stoppages – two knockouts and two submission victories.
He has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime following the news of Idrisov's withdrawal, and a win for Maningat could be a life-altering experience for him and his career.
BRAVE CF 66 takes place on November 26, as the organization returns to Indonesia after a four-year hiatus. The fight card is headlined by a middleweight bout between South Africa's Chad Hanekom and South Korea's In Jae La.
For more information on BRAVE CF 66, visit BRAVECF.com.