Leandro Issa Says Victory Over Muin Gafurov Should Earn Him A World Title Shot

Leandro Issa Says Victory Over Muin Gafurov Should Earn Him A World Title Shot
PHOTO: Leandro Issa Says Victory Over Muin Gafurov Should Earn Him A World Title Shot

Leandro “Brodinho” Issa is making a beeline towards the ONE Bantamweight World Title.

The Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion’s second stint in ONE Championship has seen him hit a rich vein of form, with a hat-trick of impressive wins over former World Title challengers Toni Tauru and Dae Hwan Kim, and rising contender Roman “Boom” Alvarez.

In his upcoming bout at ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES, Issa takes on Muin “Tajik” Gafurov in Bangkok, Thailand, and is looking to propel himself into a title bout.

“When I came back last year, immediately my goal was to be the World Champion,” the 35-year-old states.

“I’ve been training a lot and working hard.”

Victory over the two-time Combat Sambo World Champion from Tajikistan would give him a strong case for a title shot.

The 22-year-old contender has a 100% finishing rate and returns to ONE Championship after losing out to the current ONE Interim Bantamweight Champion Kevin Belingon in his last outing in the promotion.

“He is a good fighter. He is dangerous and well-rounded,” the Brazilian acknowledges.

“I think he likes to strike more, but his ground game is not bad. He’s a well-rounded fighter, but I think he will want to strike with me. 

“I feel that I am better on the ground. That’s always my game plan – to put the guy on the ground and work my BJJ.

“I have been training a lot at Evolve with all the Muay Thai world champions and the jiu-jitsu world champions, so I’m ready for this next challenge. I can’t wait.”

While Issa is preparing to face Gafurov, he also has his eye on the upcoming battle to unify the division, as reigning ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes” and Belingon are set to face off at ONE: HEART OF THE LION in Singapore on 9 November.

“Bibiano has what I want, so if I have to fight him, I will train hard, and I will be ready. I will do everything to get the belt,” Issa explains.

“I think his fight with Belingon will be very exciting. They fought before, and Bibiano submitted him, but Belingon has improved his ground game and his takedown defence a lot, so it’s going to be a great fight. It’s going to be a war.”

Before he can take a seat and enjoy the battle for the unified title, he first has to dispatch Gafurov. 

“The Brazilian says he has worked hard to make sure he is ready to win the bout, however it pans out on the night.

“Nothing comes easy. Every fight is a real fight. As I say, I look for mistakes, and I try to capitalise on them,” he says.

“Every fight is different, but I’m ready to fight three rounds – to strike or to grapple. I’m ready, regardless.

“For sure, I’m right there in the mix. I’ve beaten some good names already, and I think I will deserve a title shot if I win my next fight.”