Russian lightweight contender Timofey Nastyukhin just scored the 12th win of his martial arts career. In doing so, he cemented his world championship credentials with a unanimous decision victory over fellow contender Amir Khan at ONE: QUEST FOR GOLD in Yangon, Myanmar, on Friday, 23 February.
Both men went into the bout tipped as potential world title challengers in 2018, and the 28-year-old Novokuznetsk, Russia native made his case for a title shot later this year with a heavy-handed striking performance at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium.
Nastyukhin started the more aggressive of the pair, taking the center of the cage and looking to impose his high-pressure striking game on Khan.
The Russian put a lot of power into his strikes in the opening frame. He loaded up with single, heavy strikes, while Khan remained composed and worked off his back foot, almost as if he was looking to take the sting out of Nastyukhin’s strikes as the round progressed.
As the bout wore on, Nastuykhin’s relentless approach remained constant, as he walked down Khan for three full rounds.
The second frame started as the first ended, with Nastyukhin pushing forward aggressively. A big overhand right caught Khan off balance. The Russian continued to load up on his strikes, finding the Singaporean’s chin with overhand rights while Khan continued to keep his lead left hand low.
Khan’s languid style remained dangerous, and a big uppercut gave pause to the Russian as the 22-year-old Singaporean showed why he has so many stoppage wins on his record. But it was Nastyukhin’s work that appeared the more significant, as he continued to find his opponent with heavy shots.
With the bout seemingly heading Nastyukhin’s way after two rounds, Khan knew he needed to switch up his game in the third and final round if he were to attain victory. A solid left jab showed his intentions, and then he switched roles with Nastyukhin, taking the center of the cage and pushing Nastyukhin back. However, a powerful right from the Russian forced the Singaporean to step back and reset.
Despite Khan’s increased urgency in the final frame, Nastyukhin finished the bout on top. The Singaporean lightweight gathered himself, and threw everything he had into a flying knee that did not quite connect cleanly. The Russian then took the Evolve MMA product to the mat, and held him down as time expired.
When the scorecards were collated, it was Nastyukhin who took the victory by unanimous decision. The Russian improves his career record to 12-3, and he moves one step closer to a shot at the ONE Lightweight World Title.