Naruntungalag Jadambaa was extremely frustrated when his fight with Marat Gafurov was postponed due to visa issues in Indonesia.
The two fighters were supposed to meet in September but instead they will finally face one another at ONE: ‘Dynasty of Champions’ this Saturday night in Beijing.
It means Jadambaa has had to wait an extra two months to make the first defence of the belt he won last year but after decades of training and competing in MMA he has learned to be patient. The 38-year-old’s fighting journey began when he was just 13.
“In 1989 I started training in Judo and Mongolian wrestling, in 1994 I started Kyukoshin Karate and in 2003 I started training in MMA and kickboxing. The first ever MMA tournaments in Mongolia was in 2003 and I won seven fights in one day.”
Jadambaa used to work as a fire fighter in Erdenet, a city in the far north of Mongolia but he is now based in the country’s capital and has his own gym. Shandas Dojo is also home to some of the country’s top prospects, like 4-0 bantamweight Danaa Batgerel, and the reigning ONE featherweight champion is excited about the potential his students have.
“Shandas Dojo is the name of the gym I own. Me and Arai Junichi teach a few students five of my students are champions of Mongolia one of them is 4-0 in international MMA competition and one of them is 5-0 in international MMA competition.”
Jadambaa is a father of three but being a mixed martial artist is not currently his full time job. He dedicates himself to training whenever he has a fight booked but his days are normally spent working as a professional in the security industry.
“I have a full time job as a head of security for Komit Service which provides equipment and parts for the mining industry. I’ve been working for them for eight years and Mr Tamar, the owner of the company, trains with me and supports my fighting career.”
Jadambaa previously held a lightweight title with Legend FC and has wins over famous Japanese fighters like Kazunori Yokota and Akihiro Gono. He’d also beaten Yui Chul Nam and Adrian Pang before signing with ONE and has won two out of two for Asia’s biggest MMA promotion.
He has emerged as the face of Mongolian MMA but Jadambaa believes his homeland has the potential to produce many more elite level fighters.
“My ancestors were warriors and from then until now wrestling has grown in Mongolia. I believe that when MMA becomes more popular in Mongolia there will be many more Mongolians fighting internationally.”
There are some stellar names on the list of opponents Jadambaa has beaten but on Saturday he faces arguably his greatest challenge yet. Marat Gafurov is undefeated in MMA and has submitted all three of his ONE Championship opponents to date in the opening round.
The Russian is a former M-1 145 lbs champion and holds a black belt in BJJ but Jadambaa says he isn’t getting too hung up on his opponents previous accomplishments and achievements.
“I’ve fought Russians before in Karate and Judo tournaments, they are strong and brave. Marat is well rounded and I’m proud to be fighting a famous opponent but I fight the fighter himself, not his name or his prestige.”
It’s been over a year since Jadambaa won the belt by beating former champion Koji Oishi. However this isn’t the first time in his MMA career that he’s faces such a long spell on the sidelines and the Mongolian is not short of confidence as he prepares to face Gafurov.
“I am very confident and I have the passion to win. I have a feeling that I have more passion than Marat. I had this same feeling in my last fight too.”
Mongolia’s own promotion, MGL-1 Fighting, has a card coming up in Ulaanbaatar at the end of the month. The sport is gaining traction in Jadambaa’s homeland and the 38-year-old hopes to inspire more of his compatriots to follow in his footsteps.
“With every victory I get to introduce MMA to more and more Mongolians so I will try my best to defeat my opponent.”
ONE: ‘Dynasty of Champions’ will be broadcast live in Asia by Fox Sports and via on PPV.