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Saygid Izagakhmaev expects to become ONE's lightweight king by 2023: 'Nobody will stop me'

The Russian phenom plans to beat Shinya Aoki at ONE 163 and then dethrone Christian Lee next.
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Saygid Izagakhmaev (21-2) has looked dominant since debuting in ONE Championship earlier this year, but he'll face his toughest test yet on Saturday, November 19

The surging Russian will square off against former ONE lightweight world champion Shinya Aoki (47-10) at "ONE 163: Akimoto vs. Petchtanong," and a win over the Japanese icon would prove that No. 4-ranked Izagakhmaev truly belongs in the division's upper echelon.

The 29-year-old from Dagestan has already impressed with back-to-back victories inside the ONE circle.

Still, he knows that adding a legend like Aoki to his resume at the Singapore Indoor Stadium would give him a massive boost.

Izagakhmaev said:

"(This is a big fight because) he is a very well-known fighter. He has a name, he has his own following. He might be one of the most recognized fighters in the MMA world.

"He's a veteran of this sport and a former ONE world champion, so a win over a fighter like Aoki will push me forward significantly. It will be a huge win for all our team."

Although Izagkahmaev and Aoki are both known primarily for their world-class grappling, the Russian wrestler thinks he can use his striking to avoid the elite submission skills of "Tobikan Judan."

After a hard-fought decision over Chinese veteran Zhang Lipeng in his last outing, Izagakhmaev would also love to notch another finish, and he thinks meeting Aoki's forward pressure with his own firepower is the best route to that goal.

The Russian explained:

"My plan is aggression. If he aggressively attacks, I will engage him just as aggressively. (The rest of the plan), I will show only in the fight. 

"I would like to finish this fight striking. I think it's going to end this way. (My goal is) to win this fight ahead of time and shout from the ring: '(ONE CEO) Chatri, give me my $50,000!'"

Izagakhmaev plans to beat Aoki, challenge Lee next

Izagakhmaev believes a victory over NO. 5-ranked lightweight Aoki should position him for the next shot at reigning king Christian Lee

Lee has already defeated most of the division's top-ranked fighters, while Izagakhmaev would be a fresh test for "The Warrior."

With that in mind, the Russian plans on making his intentions known if he gets past "Tobikan Judan" on November 19.

He said:

"If I win the upcoming fight – and I'll win it, Inshallah – I will challenge the champion of our division.

"Christian Lee has beaten everybody (else), but he knows who he hasn't beaten."

One day before Izagakhmaev faces Aoki in Singapore, Lee (16-4) will move up a division to challenge Kiamrian Abbasov (23-5) for the ONE welterweight world title at ONE on Prime Video 4 in North American primetime.

For his part, Izagakhmaev hopes that Abbasov retains the welterweight belt.

His mindset is simple  if "The Warrior" loses his shot at two-division supremacy, he'll drop back down to lightweight and defend that strap next.

Izagakhmaev added:

"I want (Lee) to lose this fight. Let Kiamrian win it and send the lightweight champion back to his division where we can fight together. 

"I'm destined to be the lightweight champion, it's only a matter of time. I think I will become the ONE world champion in half a year.

"I'm the new force in the lightweight division, and nobody will stop me."

This story first published at ONEFC.com.