What’s good fight fans? Today I had the opportunity to sit down with One Championships Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov. Kairat is 23-1 and heading back into the cage on September 16 at One Championship: Total Victory. Let’s have a seat with Kairat and talk about his plans, upcoming fight, and career.
Nick: What does it mean (for you) to be a fighter?
Kairat: It’s a platform for me to unleash my full potential as a human being. Most of the people who don’t reach their true potential fail to do it because they underestimate their abilities and this usually results in accepting mediocre results. You may realize it or not, but we’re born with great gifts and talents. Maybe you feel you are doing your best, but others say you have more to give. Maybe you feel as if you really are mediocre and cannot be great. That is not true at all. We all have greatness within. We just need to know how to unlock it and unleash all that potential. To me, I found it by being a professional martial arts athlete.
Nick: At what age did you begin to train martial arts?
Kairat: I began wrestling at the age of 12. Since then, I got hooked with the discipline. It only took me two years to become a champion. At age 14, I was already a Greco-Roman youth wrestling champion. At age 19, I became an Asian champion in wrestling.
Nick: What inspired you to pursue a career in MMA?
Kairat: In 2010, I circled back to my childhood dream, and started to try my hand in the cage. I even made my professional debut in May of that year, winning in 48 seconds via rear-naked choke. That victory was followed up with another quick one later that summer. Both of those wins further encouraged me to leave the sport I only knew for the one I had dreamed about as a kid, which is to become a complete martial artist. Coupled with my dedication and mental strength built through Greco-Roman Wrestling, I went on a flawless run. By the time I arrived in ONE Championship, I had already racked up a perfect 22-0 professional record. Then I won the belt in my first fight. It’s a culmination of childhood dreams.
Nick: Your nickname is The Kazakh. What does it mean, who gave it to you, and why?
Kairat: I got my moniker because I always represent my country with pride and honor. Whether it’s on the mat or inside the cage, I will always show the true Kazakh warrior spirit.
Nick: How long have you been with Alash Pride?
Kairat: I have been with them since I started my professional career. Although the Alash Pride gym was my home away from home, I regularly cross-trained with Greg Jackson at Jackson Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico as well. Now, my home is Thailand with Tiger Muay Thai. I love to train at TMT. I have everything I need there. The coaches do their best to help me prepare, and I feel that I am a valuable member of the team. I also have a lot of great training partners from all over the world here. I love Thailand and the Thai people. The vibe and atmosphere here is amazing. With beautiful nature here, it is easy to relax and recover between training.
Nick: You have an impressive ground game earning you plenty of submission victories. You also have won via TKO/KO. While being very well-rounded do you prefer to keep a fight standing or take it to the ground?
Kairat: I don’t really prefer anything. A win is a win. If there is a chance to get a submission, I will take it. If there’s an opening to go for a knockout, I will go for it. That’s the beauty of this sport. There are many ways to break down your opponent and secure the victory.
Nick: September 16 at One Championship: Total Victory you will be facing a tough opponent in Geje Eustaquio. How do you feel you match up with your opponent?
Kairat: Geje Eustaquio is a good striker with decent takedown defense, and he has a good team behind him. I do not think he has a lot of weaknesses.
Nick: Is there any part of your opponent’s skillset that you adjusted your training for?
Kairat: My advantage should be my wrestling and ground game, but I am not going to rely only on that. I am willing to test myself against him on the feet and show what my hands can do. I envision every possible scenario, from a quick win to a tough decision where I overcome adversity. Whatever he brings to me, I will be ready for it.
Nick: Do you have a prediction for your fight?
Kairat: I am ready for anything. That’s what I can assure. If he wants to test me standing up, I will trade with him. If he wants to swarm me on the ground, he is open to that. If he wants to go full three rounds, it’s not a problem. I am ready.
Nick: You have been virtually unstoppable up to this point. Will you be expecting an immediate title shot should you advance to 24-1?
Kairat: Geje Eustaquio is one of the best competitors in the division and a victory over him will mean a lot. I have one goal, and that is to get back my title. I will take care of anyone who stands in my way.
Nick: Kairat have you submitted to the takeover?
Kairat: This is Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov and I have submitted to the takeover.
Kairat would like to thank everyone in his life for supporting him through this journey. He truly feels blessed to have the chance to perform and do what he loves.
I would like to thank him and wish him luck in his upcoming fight. Signing off for TheMMATakeOver.com this is Nick Portella. @NickPortellaMMA