Ilya Freymanov has come a long way in a short space of time in ONE Championship’s featherweight MMA realm. The Russian star has added two highlight-reel wins to his resume in his first year, and he’s ready to claim his biggest one yet this weekend.
Freymanov returns to Bangkok, Thailand’s Lumpinee Boxing Stadium on Saturday, October 7, where he’ll contest the ONE interim featherweight MMA world title against former divisional king Thanh Le in the main event of ONE Fight Night 15.
The 27-year-old’s promotional tenure got off to a ferocious start when he finished former two-division ONE world champion Martin Nguyen in the first-round of their matchup at ONE on Prime Video 2 last October. The statement win showed he was a force, and it dropped him straight into the No. 3 spot in the divisional rankings.
Freymanov followed that up with a high-octane performance against Shinechagtga Zoltsetseg at ONE Fight Night 11 this past June. Though he suffered an early knockdown at the hands of his Mongolian foe, the 12-2 star held on and battled back to end proceedings at 2:18 of the opening round.
His third outing in ONE may carry some significant stakes, but Freymanov believes the stars have aligned for him to compete for the interim world title, and he’s ready to take advantage of the opportunity in front of him.
“I feel perfect. Everything is for the better, and I’m reaching my goals step by step. As I said in the beginning of the year, I could have a title fight at the end of it [the year],” Freymanov said.
“This is coming true, and I’m just enjoying my time and making use of the chances I get. Things go by as they should, no more and no less. I welcome everything as it is.
Claiming the gold won’t be an easy task, however, and Le will undoubtedly be the biggest challenge the Kuznya Fight Club standout has faced in his career to date. The Vietnamese-American amassed five knockouts in as many promotional outings while winning and defending the world title along the way.
It would have been unwise for Freymanov to look past all that Le has achieved in ONE, so he is well aware of the opposition ahead. These are the tests he desires, however, and at ONE Fight Night 15, he plans to relish every moment.
“Now he’s an ex-champion again, but I consider him a very strong opponent and a man with a big name,” he said.
“He has achieved a lot in this sport, was a champion for a long time. He won over my previous opponent, Martin Nguyen, who was also an ex-champion. My motivation is to beat the best and be the best.”