Vladimir Kuzmin wants to build off his stunning ONE Championship debut by taking out one of the bantamweight Muay Thai division's top names on Friday.
Following his dominant unanimous decision victory over Chris Shaw in February, the Russian will return against "Elbow Zombie" Muangthai PK.Saenchai on the main card of "ONE 159: De Ridder vs. Bigdash."
Muangthai is already a muay Thai world champion and represents a big step up in competition, but Kuzmin is not fazed by their matchup at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
"For now, I've only watched his last two fights," Kuzmin said. "He is a nice Thai boxer. I can't say something specific about him. He is a typical Thai boxer. Most of his kicks come from the back leg. I can't see anything new or special.
"I know from the guys at my gym that he competes in Thailand. He is a Lumpinee champion. They say he has some pretty nice elbow strikes. I didn't see any of that in his last fights."
Coming from the home of muay Thai, "Elbow Zombie" has honed his skills among the best strikers on the famous Bangkok stadium circuit.
However, Kuzmin thinks the Thai athlete is very similar to many others who've taken the same route. With that in mind, he feels prepared for Muangthai's style and believes that his own fight IQ will be the difference when they square off inside the Circle
"His weakness is his predictability," the Fight Club Archangel Michael representative said. "He is plain. He doesn't bring anything new to each of his fights. Everything is standard.
"One of this better qualities is his Thai clinch work, his elbows, and kicks. But I'm faster than Muangthai. I'm also smarter. My kicks aren't exactly worse than his, and I can also hit with elbows and mow people down."
Kuzmin eying bantamweight muay Thai gold
Kuzmin watched and enjoyed Muangthai's last bout against Liam Harrison in April, where the Thai striker dropped "Hitman" twice before suffering three knockdowns of his own to lose by TKO.
With that epic comeback, Harrison earned the next shot at ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, and Kuzmin sees both of those men in his future.
With a 17-1 professional record, the Russian is aiming for the top spot in the division, and he knows that a win over Muangthai would push him closer to that goal.
"Harrison is a good fighter," Kuzmin said. "He is a striker, can hit hard, and can maintain a high pace. But first, I have to get through Muangthai PK.Saenchai, then I can get to Harrison.
"Of course, I have big plans. Not only fighting guys from the top five, but I want the belt. Honestly, I don't care who I'll fight. My goal is the belt, and I'm coming for it."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.