ONE Championship’s featherweight title holder Narantungalag Jadambaa has helped to put Mongolia on the MMA map but he is not the first famous warrior the country has produced.
In the 13th century Genghis Khan conquered nearly 12 million square miles of territory creating the largest land empire in history.
Of course being a professional MMA fighter is a slightly different challenge to building an empire but Jadambaa, who makes the first defence of his title at ONE: Odyssey of Champions this Sunday, says he takes inspiration from the most famous leader in Mongolia’s history.
“To me Genghis Khan is the greatest ever, he helped build modern empires today. From Korea, China and Southeast Asia to Eastern Europe and the Middle East – all the land belonged to the Mongolian empire at some point and I try to replicate Genghis Khan’s strength and warrior mentality.”
I AM VERY PROUD TO COME FROM SUCH A RICH HISTORY AND SHARE THE SAME ANCESTRY AS THESE WARRIORS.
Jadambaa has beaten great fighters like Akihiro Gono, Adrian Pang, Yui Chul Nam and Koji Oishi but this Sunday night in Jakarta he faces his greatest challenge yet.
Marat Gafurov brings a perfect professional record of 11-0 into the contest and has already run through top ONE featherweights Rob Lisita and Ev Ting.
The 39-year-old is under no illusions as to the size of the challenge which awaits him in Indonesia but Jadambaa believes he poses more of a threat than his undefeated opponent.
“I’ve studied (him) a lot and I think he’s a very good fighter. His strengths are his grappling and striking but everything about me is dangerous.”
Jadambaa has won 10 out of his last 11 fights and there were extenuating circumstances behind the defeat. He suffered a broken ankle during the third round of a Legend FC lightweight title defence against Koji Ando in 2013. It kept him out for a year but the Mongolian was still able to drop down a division and claim the ONE 145 lbs title two fights later.
Coming back from a serious long term injury to drop down a division and claim a major title is not something fighters are supposed to be able to do in their late 30s. But Jadambaa has been defying expectations for years.
In 2010 he beat Pride and UFC veteran Akihiro Gono in Japan in what was regarded as one of the biggest Asian MMA upsets of the year. A few months later he knocked out former Deep lightweight champion Kazunori Yokota and he has been beating champions ever since.
Jadambaa’s most recent wins are over former CFC lightweight champion Adrian Pang, former Spirit MC lightweight champion, Yui Chul Nam, former URCC lightweight champion and former ONE featherweight champion Honorio Banario and the then ONE 145 lbs champion Koji Oishi.
It is an impressive resume and Jadambaa knows he can add another impressive name to it by beating Gafurov, himself a former M-1 145 lbs champion.
“Marat is undefeated so beating him will bring more glory to my victory.”
Gafurov is a black belt in BJJ who is known for his takedowns and ground game but Jadambaa believes there is one area where he will definitely have the edge.
“I have better striking than Marat but I pay attention to all aspects of my game. I am planning to finish this fight early.”
He hasn’t finished a fight since 2012 when Yui Chul Nam was submitted in the second round but Jadambaa believes that not only will he become the first fighter to beat Gafurov, he will also become the only man to ever stop him.
It will be a tall undertaking but he is determined to become the latest in a long line of Mongolian warriors to achieve the seemingly impossible.
“I try my best to continue in my ancestor’s footsteps. I am very proud to come from such a rich history and share the same ancestry as these warriors.”
ONE: ‘Odyssey of Champions’ is set for the Istora Senayan Stadium in Jakarta this Sunday. The first four fights on the ONE: ‘Odyssey of Champions’ card will be available to view free of charge via Facebook, with the remaining card on sale for US$9.99.