ONE heavyweight contender Amir Aliakbari is a man on a mission heading into ONE Fight Night 12, with the Iranian powerhouse hoping a decisive victory over Dustin Joynson at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium will book him a rematch with the last man to defeat him.

Aliakbari faces Joynson in a bout that should push the winner close to a shot at the ONE heavyweight championship. For Aliakbari, a shot at the title would also represent a chance at revenge against Anatoly Malykhin, who knocked him out in the first round of their meeting at ONE: Revolution in September 2021.

Ahead of fight night in Thailand, Aliakbari opened up on a range of topics, including his win over former champ Brandon Vera, his rivalry with Malykhin, and his prediction for this weekend’s bout with Joynson.

You had a tough start in ONE Championship, losing your first two fights. But you quickly turned it around with a pair of stoppage wins. What do you credit your incredible turnaround to?

Yes, in the beginning when I began my career in ONE Championship, conditions were very difficult for me, and that’s why I failed in my first two fights. But after that, with the help of God, and the changes I made in my team and the camps that we had in Russia, I corrected the mistakes I had made in earlier fights.

Most recently in December, you knocked out and retired longtime ONE heavyweight world champion Brandon Vera. What did that win mean to you?

I loved the fight against Brandon very much because he is a fighter with a lot of experience, and we had spoken a lot before the fight. And when I defeated him, I regained my confidence. I was very happy and proud that Brandon’s final professional fight was against me.

You will be making your return against Dustin Joynson. What are your thoughts on your opponent?

Dustin is a good fighter. He has a strong chin and stamina, but his weak points are my strong points.

I have been training for many months after my last fight with Brandon, and I hope to reap the benefits of my hard work in my next fight.

How important is it for you to win, and get a stoppage victory at that?

The most important thing in my life is martial arts and, more importantly, being successful at it.

So, how does this fight end?

This fight will be over before we reach a decision, if God wills.

How important is a rematch with now-ONE heavyweight world champion Anatoly Malykhin?

After my big loss to him, Anatoly Malykhin became stronger and prouder of himself. It’s my job now to break his prestige.

There’s a rumor that ONE may be holding an event in Qatar by the end of the year. As a proud Iranian, what would competing at that event mean to you?

The Middle East is my region and naturally, I will be happy and pleased to fight in my region where I have supporters.

How would you feel if you were to rematch Malykhin for the belt in Qatar?

I would really like that to happen. I hope it happens.