In just a matter of days, Shamil Gasanov will enter the biggest battle of his professional mixed martial arts career.

After a successful ONE Championship debut in 2022, “The Cobra” has the opportunity to insert himself further into the featherweight world title picture when he meets the stacked division’s No. 2-ranked contender Garry Tonon this Saturday, July 15, at ONE Fight Night 12: Superlek vs. Khalilov.

The unbeaten Russian arrived in Asia’s largest combat sports organization at ONE on Prime Video 3: Lineker vs. Andrade last October, where he dispatched former No. 2-ranked featherweight Kim Jae Woong by rear-naked choke inside the first round to announce himself on the global stage.

The win saw the Rostov-on-Don resident move to 13-0, and it stands as one of his most significant wins to date, according to the man himself.

“That victory was extremely important because I wanted to test myself in one of the best leagues in the world and see where I stand,” Gasanov said. 

“It was even more significant to see how I performed against the (then) No. 2-ranked fighter in our division.”

Gasanov immediately entered the featherweight rankings with his victory over “The Fighting God.” He currently sits as the No. 5-ranked contender but will be hoping to push even higher by besting Tonon this Friday.

That will be a lot easier said than done, however. The American star has amassed a fearsome reputation in the division, and he’ll be hungry to continue his winning ways after returning to form with a dominant first-round submission win against Johnny Nunez this past January. 

Prior to that success, “The Lion Killer” suffered defeat in a submission grappling match with Tye Ruotolo and went down to a devastating knockout at the hands of then-featherweight king Thanh Le.

Back-to-back losses on a fighter slate may cause an opponent to feel a measure of confidence, especially if they themselves are undefeated, but Gasanov is well aware of the credentials that Tonon holds, and he refuses to count out his upcoming foe.

On top of that, a meeting with the American grappling legend has been on his list for years, so he wants to make sure his approach is perfect.

“Despite his losses, Tonon should not be underestimated. Both of us are skilled grapplers, and we pose a threat until the final second of the fight. Maintaining focus is crucial as a single mistake can cost the victory. He is particularly dangerous with his leg locks,” Gasanov said.

“I have been closely following my division in ONE for a long time, even when I was competing in another league. Fighting Tonon has been a dream of mine for a while. 

“I have watched his fights in ADCC, and I consider him the most dangerous opponent in my division. I never look for shortcuts in my career, so I am fully prepared to face Garry. If I defeat Garry Tonon, I am confident that a title shot will be in my near future.”