Igor Svirid might have lost his ONE Championship middleweight title and suffered a broken hand in his last fight, but the Kazakhstani is not short of ambition or confidence. He wants his belt back, but first, he’s planning to win one as a welterweight.
“I don’t mean to be rude, but what I want to do first is beat Luis Santos and then I’d like to beat Ben Askren, take the belt and then, what I really, really want more than anything else, to get the rematch with Bigdash, beat him and get what belongs to me. Get it back, which is my belt. “
Svirid has been handed an extremely tough assignment on his welterweight debut. He’s going up against Brazilian striking sensation Luis Santos at ONE: Titles & Titans in Jakarta this Saturday, and knows what is in store.
“Luis Santos has an extremely good background in Judo and he showed it in his fight against Ben Askren, how he was throwing Ben Askren left and right. Also, Luis Santos got his famous kicking skills in his left leg and he also has extremely, extremely good jiu-jitsu.”
Svirid has been training at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket to prepare for this fight. He happened to bump into Canada’s Ryan Ford, the last fighter to beat Santos, and the WSOF veteran has given him a few tips.
“I know a lot about Luis Santos. As a matter of fact, when I was in the Tiger Muay Thai Camp, getting ready for this fight, I talked to the Canadian guy who beat Luis Santos and that Canadian guy gave me a couple of hints as well.”
Svirid might have lost his belt to Vitaly Bigdash last October, but he arguably enhanced his reputation in the process. It’s rare that a fighter can come away from a defeat saying that, but it was one of the best fights of 2015 and people are still talking about it to this day.
That’s probably no consolation to the loser, but Svirid is happy to talk about exactly what happened during that five minutes and 36 seconds of intense back-and-forth action.
“The energy level was extremely high and I was a little over-hyped and tried to knock him down in round one right away. That might be why I wasn’t really careful and I might have gone overboard a little bit and broke my hand. I was way too excited and I wanted to make a statement that I am the best and that I am the champ and got carried away. I didn’t stick to my plan and as a result, I broke my hand.”
The broken hand is now completely healed, but Svirid has had plenty of time to dwell on the defeat and knows where he went wrong.
“I’m going to walk you through it. I think it is completely my fault because I was kind of overdoing it and I kind of got carried away, as I mentioned before. All I remember was knocking him down and every time he goes down, he gets up. I keep knocking him down and he gets up because I want him to get up.”
“I know that he’s a jiu-jitsu guy and so I don’t want to go on the ground. I want to knock him down while we’re standing. I got carried away and basically broke my hand, but because my adrenaline was so high, I didn’t feel it. And so I kept asking myself, ‘I keep knocking him down, but he keeps coming back up. What’s going on?’ Stuff like that.”
ONE Championship recently changed its regulations to force fighters to compete at their normal, walking weight. It’s a move that suits Svirid, who says he was one of the smallest middleweights in the division.
“The reason (I dropped down to welterweight) was because I was the smallest middleweight in my division. I talked to Leandro and he said that his original walking around weight was 100 kilograms, and so I talked to Bigdash, and Bigdash told me that his walking around weight was 99 kilograms. My walking around weight was only 88 kilograms, and so I was the smallest one of the middleweights.”
ONE Championship has restrictions which prevent fighters from dehydrating themselves to pass the day before weigh-in checks. It means that what a fighter sees when they face off with their opponent on fight week is basically what they will go up against on fight night. For Svirid, this is a massive relief.
“I am extremely satisfied because finally I’m not going to fight against guys who walk around at 100 kilograms, but make the weight and then the following day are giants compared to me. I’m excited to finally fight somebody my own size.”
Santos is massively experienced, a veteran of over 70 fights. He’s capable of capitalizing on even the slightest error and Svirid knows it will be vital not to rush in and leave an opening for the Brazilian.
“I get carried away, that’s my weakness. During the fight, I need to calm down because I get carried away and even my coach keeps telling to me to calm down. I need to be more cool about it and stick to the plan.”
It’s rare for a fighter to be so forthcoming about their shortcomings. Svirid is remarkably honest, but he is also extremely confident and intends to put Santos under some serious pressure on Saturday.
“I don’t think it’s going to go the distance. No matter what, I will keep pushing forward and pushing forward.”
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