Eersel strolls to victory over Murtazaev
published : 9 Dec 2021 at 04:00
newspaper section: Sports
Singapore: ONE lightweight kickboxing world champion Regian Eersel, nicknamed "The Immortal", continued his impressive run with his 18th consecutive victory over Islam Murtazaev at the weekend.
The Surinamese-Dutch fighter defeated the Russian via split decision in the main event of ONE: Winter Warriors at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
However, the bout was one of Eersel's least dominant outings to date because he was expecting his challenger to come out full blast.
He presumed the Russian had decided to conserve his energy for the later rounds. But to his surprise, Murtazaev never picked up the pace.
"I thought he would be more aggressive, coming forward, putting the pressure on me, but he didn't. It was a little bit confusing for me," Eersel said.
"I already had in my mind that I was going to start easy, and that was my mistake. But it went well because he was out of gas after the third, fourth round."
Where the 28-year-old competitor did excel was with his kicks, especially the low kicks, which he used to punish the lead leg of his opponent throughout the five-round fight.
However, it was in the closing rounds wherein the world champion really increased his output.
"I knew I had to put the pressure on him. Otherwise, I would lose a fight," he said.
"My trainer told me, 'You have to put more pressure on him.' And I did, so it worked out."
Aside from winning his last 18 fights, the Amsterdam-based champion is now 6-0 in ONE, having beaten the best lightweight kickboxers in the world, including Nieky "The Natural" Holzken on two occasions.
"I think I'm building a nice legacy. I'm undefeated for five or six years now. Eighteen fights in total. I'm building my legacy very well," Eersel said.
Although he doesn't know who he'll defend his crown against next, he knows it won't get any easier, as the lightweight kickboxing division is one of the world's toughest.
Also, being the world champion in ONE, he knows he's competing in the right place to continue his legacy.
"If you look at the 70-kilo division for ONE Championship, they bring the best fighters of the world together, like K1 back in the day," Eersel said.