Kiamrian Abbasov (23-5) was just as surprised as many fans when he received word of his next assignment.
The ONE welterweight world champion will defend his crown against ONE lightweight world champion Christian Lee (16-4) in the main event of ONE on Prime Video 4, and "Brazen" thinks the higher weight class will be a new animal for his superstar opponent.
Still, Abbasov is not underestimating "The Warrior" ahead of their clash at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, November 18.
The Kyrgyz mixed martial artist said:
"I did not expect Christian. It is a surprise. I was expecting to get a fight with Murad Ramazanov. But I'm very glad I don't have to fight my (fellow Russian). It is even better for me.
"Christian is a good opponent. He is a good, explosive fighter, but I know his weaknesses and I am not a guy from his division – the rules are different here."
Abbasov knows that Lee's attempt at two-division glory is extremely difficult after making a similar move in his last outing.
Back in February, he challenged Reinier de Ridder for the ONE middleweight world title and eventually succumbed to a third-round submission defeat.
Still, the 29-year-old won't write off the lightweight king. He knows Lee possesses a dangerous skill set, but he also plans to push him harder than ever before – both physically and mentally.
"When I was moving up a level, I lacked some skills, which I am working hard on now.
"Everybody has a chance. This is going to be the type of a fight where you cannot predict anything and you definitely cannot underestimate your opponent.
"It is all about character, willpower, and determination. We will see if he can show it in the cage. I am ready."
Abbasov happy to take Lee into 'deep waters'
Abbasov has repeatedly proven to be a well-rounded mixed martial artist inside the ONE circle.
The same can be said of Lee, although he's relied on his striking more and more in recent performances.
Coming from a wrestling background and with a size advantage in their ONE welterweight world title tussle, Abbasov might try to shut down "The Warrior's" standup game.
At the same time, he's willing to meet Lee in any range of combat when the Singaporean-American challenges for a second world title belt.
"As you know, I prefer not to rely only on my wrestling. If he will feel like trading punches, he is welcome. That is what we like to do.
"But if he feels brave enough to wrestle then I can take him to deep waters, and we will see who has more oxygen."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.