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Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017

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Irina Mazepa: “I Deserve To Be A Champion In This Weight Division”

Mixed Martial Arts | Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017
Irina Mazepa: “I Deserve To Be A Champion In This Weight Division”

When Irina Mazepa meets Michelle Nicolini at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY on 21 April, there’ll be plenty of ways to describe how enticing the matchup is. It’s striker vs. grappler, world champion vs. world champion, and so much more.

Mazepa is a world champion in both wushu and K-1, so her striking resume speaks for itself. Her fearsome stand-up game has seen her post a 2-0 professional MMA record to date, including a victory over former boxing world champion Ana Julaton.

This shows that her striking style has already blended well into mixed martial arts, but she’ll square off against one of the greatest female grapplers ever in Nicolini, an eight-time BJJ world champion. Though it’s no surprise what her opponent will try and do, it’s easier said than done to stop. Mazepa is confident that she is fully capable of doing just that.

“I know she will try to put me on ground,” Mazepa states. “I have good control, and a lot of instruments and tools in my skill set that I can work with.”

Not every elite grappler can transfer their game successfully into MMA, and we’ve seen some of the best try and fail. However, just look at ONE Light Heavyweight World Champion Roger Gracie, and it is apparent that BJJ can also be extremely effective. Mazepa is just focused on doing enough to prevent a ground battle with someone as savvy as the Brazilian Nicolini.

“I have a lot of power, and I can stop her if she does try to [take me down],” continued Mazepa, who has been spending a lot of time brushing up on her own ground skills.

"I learned some techniques on the ground. There is always more to learn. I like this process and working in both areas, but I prefer striking more.”

The Russian isn’t here to shirk any challenges, and ultimately has her sights set on the very top. That was evident, when in her debut, she took on the more experienced Ann Osman and picked up a first-round KO back in 2015.

Just two months later, she returned to the cage to take on Julaton, and was successful over three rounds to claim a unanimous decision. However, since then, she’s been out of action, although it could be a blessing in disguise, giving the elite striker more time to work diligently on other aspects of her game.

The time away hasn’t dampened her ambition or confidence at all, it seems, as she announced: “I feel that this whole weight division is mine.”

“I have power and I can work well against all the opposition that these girls present. So for sure, I deserve to be champion in this weight division,” said Mazepa.

If Mazepa can get past an opponent with the quality that Nicolini brings to the cage on 21 April in the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, then her assertions could very well be true. With three wins under her belt over more experienced opponents, each world-class in their respective fields, the St. Petersburg native would definitely be turning heads.

Nicolini will have other ideas, but the Russian will be aiming to show that it is she who will prevail on the night.

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