Guto Inocente has blitzed his way to a spot in the colossal ONE heavyweight kickboxing world grand prix.
With two straight knockout wins over elite foes, the Brazilian legend earned a matchup with Ukrainian superstar and reigning ONE light heavyweight kickboxing world champion Roman Kryklia in the tournament semifinals at ONE 161 on Thursday.
Inocente's latest victory over Rade Opacic was the most impressive, as he derailed the Serbian phenom's hype train and ruined his 4-0 promotional record in the process.
Some fans were shocked by that result, but the man nicknamed "Guto" never doubted his own abilities. Now, the veteran striker will aim to continue his impressive run at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
"I knew I was going to beat (Opacic), but I was hoping to knock him out in the second round," Inocente said. "I was happy to connect a blow in the first round.
"It was a very important fight for me in the organization. I was very happy with the result, and also with all the post-fight repercussions. But I will surprise much more."
Inocente initially believed that his KO of Opacic would be enough to warrant a shot at the inaugural ONE heavyweight kickboxing world title. At the same time, he's also thrilled to feature in ONE's first Heavyweight World Grand Prix.
The 36-year-old knew he would likely need to face Kryklia eventually – perhaps even for the divisional crown – so he's excited to begin the tournament with such a high-profile clash.
"I thought I would already have a world title shot, but when they called me to the Grand Prix, I was very happy with the idea," he said. "It means I will be able to do two more fights this year.
"As the semifinal and final will not take place on the same night, the order of the fights doesn't make much difference, but I believe that Roman Kryklia is the toughest fight in this tournament."
'Winning this tournament is now my life goal'
Kryklia has been unstoppable since joining ONE Championship – and owns an 11-fight winning streak overall – but Inocente thinks he can stop the Ukrainian's rampage.
The Brazilian won't take the light heavyweight kickboxing king lightly, although he's full of confidence just one week before fight night.
"Roman Kryklia is a very dangerous fighter," Inocente said. "I've seen him fight before he entered ONE Championship, and I know his potential, but with me the story will be different. I'm sure I'll beat him.
"I see a lot of gaps and a lot of qualities like any other fighter. You can be sure that I will look for the gaps, and I will win this fight."
The chance to make history by becoming the first ONE heavyweight kickboxing world grand prix Champion means Inocente is hungrier than ever.
He plans on punching his ticket to the final and continuing his incredible run of sensational finishes against top-level talent.
"Winning this tournament is now my life goal," Inocente added. "It will be the beginning of my story as a champion in ONE Championship.
"I'm going to arrive well-trained for this fight, with all my weapons very sharp, and (in the fight) I'll use the one that fits best at that moment.
"I believe I will win by knockout in the second round."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.