There is a reason that wrestling has proved to be arguably the single most effective base for MMA. Having a strong background in this sport allows fighters to control exactly where the action takes place and that’s exactly what Kamal Shalorus plans to do at ONE FC: Reign of Champions.
“My wrestling will be very important in this fight. It gives me an advantage because I can control where the fight is going to go. If it feels like I will do better standing, I will stand. If I feel like I will do better on the ground, I will take it to the ground, but on my terms.”
A reputation as one of the most successful submission fighters in the history of the sport precedes Aoki, but Shalorus says he won’t be afraid to try for a takedown if he feels the time is right.
“Aoki is welcome to do what he wants to do, but if it goes to the ground it will because I choose for it to go there, and it will be in a way where I have dominant position and the advantage,” he told MMAWeekly.com.
Shalorus has been calling for a fight with Aoki since he first signed with ONE FC and two decision wins for Asia’s biggest MMA promotion have been enough to secure a title shot in Dubai on Aug. 29.
The WEC and UFC veteran believes he has earned the right to challenge for the belt and is excited to be fighting in the Middle East for the first time.
“I’ve had two good fights in ONE FC against very good opponents. I am the top contender; I believe that I deserve this shot. I think it’s great that this show is in Dubai. I am very honored to fight there.”
Born in Iran, Shalorus was a national wrestling champion who moved to Europe and spent time in England before relocating permanently to the U.S. He currently trains in Austin and thinks the Texas climate will help him prepare well for the heat and humidity in Dubai.
“I am training for this fight in Texas. The climate is very similar, but it’s not a big concern for me because the fight is going to be inside, not outside. I have actually trained in Texas for many of my fights, so the heat is something that I’m used to and comfortable with.”
While Shalorus might be accustomed to high temperatures, he has never fought five rounds before and says he has increased the intensity of his training ahead of this title fight.
“Two extra rounds means ten more minutes of fighting, so of course there has to be different focus in the approach and pacing. It’s harder and my teammates hate me because we train for five rounds.”
Shalorus has been the distance six times in his career and has never lost a decision, so while the fourth and fifth rounds represent unfamiliar territory, he doesn’t believe he will be uncomfortable if the fight lasts longer than 15 minutes.
“I am very confident that I can fight five rounds if I need to. Fighting is about preparation, my coaches are preparing me for a five-round fight and on Aug. 29 I will be ready to go for five rounds if that’s what it takes,” he said.
With Shalorus unlikely to ever compete in his native Iran this ONE FC: Reign of Champions show is as close to a homecoming as he is likely to ever get. He is excited for the opportunities that have arisen since deciding to continue his career in Asia.
“ONE FC is the biggest show in Asia; I absolutely love the organization. There is so much respect and there are no politics, it is much better for me.”
Shalorus was one of WEC’s top lightweight contenders at the time the roster was amalgamated into the UFC’s, but despite winning a lightly respected local title early on in his MMA career, he has yet to win a belt with an elite promotion.
He now finds himself one fight away from becoming the ONE FC lightweight champion and says a win over Aoki on Aug. 29 would be the crowning achievement of his career.
“It would mean a lot, it would mean achieving my destiny because all of my life I have wanted to be a world champion and it would be the pay off for all of my hard work for so many years.”
(Follow @JamesGoyder on Twitter)