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Sotir Kichukov stepping up with confidence at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY

Bulgarian star says he holds the advantage against former title challenger Danny Kingad

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ONE Championship

Sotir “The Trouble” Kichukov is all set to step in on short notice and cause a shock at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY.

Kichukov answered the call to step in at just over a week’s notice to face Filipino contender Danny Kingad in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday.

And the 27-year-old Bulgarian, who trains out of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, says he’s ready to jump into the cage and make an impact.

“I am always training,” he told ONE Championship.

“This is my career. This is my life.

“I accepted this bout because of my desire to compete, to overcome the mistakes I made in my last bout, and the desire to defeat my opponents. I want to prove myself.”

Kichukov is keen to get back to winning ways after his return to ONE Championship in January ended in a unanimous decision loss to China’s Ma Hao Bin after an exciting three-round battle.

Despite playing his part in an entertaining bout, the defeat brought home the point that his coaches had been telling him for a while.

“It finally made me understand what my coaches, my team, and my friends have been telling me,” he said.

“I am playing too safe in the competition, and not risking enough.

“It seems like I needed to go through these losses to finally get it. I do not think I was worse than my opponents before. I was just playing too safe. Look at the example of the legend, Fedor Emelianenko. He was the best martial artist of his time, and he never lost a match by a decision.

“So, after realising this point, I will not get out of the cage by decision too. I will either knock out or submit my opponents. Or if not, I would be ready to risk everything to the level of being submitted or KOed.”

With a fresh motivation uppermost in his mind, Kichukov heads back into competition looking to improve his already-impressive finish rate. Of his 13 wins, 10 have come inside the distance.

And he’ll face arguably the toughest test of his career in 22-year-old Kingad, who hails from the respected Team Lakay camp in Baguio City, Philippines.

Kingad is also heading into the bout on the back of a defeat, having suffered the first loss of his career against Moraes in an unsuccessful title tilt last November.

Despite the young star’s rise to title contendership, Kichukov remains unconvinced about his opponent’s credentials.

“His wrestling and grappling seem to be ok. I would even say average. But he is sloppy, and I am better than him,” said the Bulgarian.

“In whatever area the match takes place, the striking or the grappling, I believe I can beat him, and finish him before the end of the third round.

“I respect him out of the cage, but in the cage and his career, I do not care what was his achievements are, and where he is planning to go. I just know, for now, that he is standing in my way, and I will have to remove him.”

With a strong mindset and the firm belief that he’s a superior martial artist to his upcoming opponent, Kichukov views this bout as a potential springboard to bigger and better things.

“It may sound funny after I had a streak of losses, but I am planning to be a world champion,” he stated.

“My team tells me, and I believe this too, that I have everything to become a world champion. There were only some mistakes with my mindset. I was playing too safe. Now, you will see what I am talking about it. Watch me in this match.”

Interview by ONE Championship. Story by Simon Head.

Freelance sports writer and MMA reporter with 19 years’ experience in the UK national media. News Editor: ONE Championship. UFC/MMA Reporter: BBC Three. International MMA Reporter: The Fight Nation. Contributor: MMAjunkie.

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