The 27-year-old will challenge the Myanmar sports icon for his ONE Middleweight World Championship in the main event of ONE: PURSUIT OF GREATNESS at Yangon’s Thuwunna Indoor Stadium – a venue in which the titleholder has never lost.
However, Aung La N Sang is not counting out his challenger on Friday, 26 October.
The Lebanese martial artist is undefeated in his professional career and has shown many times why he is a dangerous opponent. Here are four reasons why he can spring an upset.
#1 Submission Instincts
The most striking part of Karaki’s resume is his five first-round submission victories.
When he gets the action to the canvas, he is at his most dangerous, and has many ways to make his adversaries tap out.
He has the strength to threaten with powerful armlocks, the skill to pass guard and transition to more technical submissions, and the ability to attack from his back with triangle chokes.
The fact that he can chain a lot of these attacks together means his rivals are often not safe, even if they successfully defend one of his chokes or locks.
They can quickly jump out of the frying pan and into the fire as “O Lutador” capitalizes on their escape attempt to threaten with something even more dangerous.
Three of Karaki’s stoppage victories have come by way of TKO, but he is no ONE Super Series candidate. His striking finishes are a result of his relentless, powerful ground and pound.
Before he goes for the finish, the American Top Team product makes sure he is in the best position to be as effective as possible. Rather than wasting his energy in his opponents’ guard, he is usually on the lookout for an opportunity to pass – and he often ends up in full mount.
Once he is there, the Lebanese athlete is difficult to move – as he stays heavy to quash efforts to escape or sweep him, and creates room to strike.
When he attacks, it’s a mix of punches and elbows that are thrown with accuracy and power, designed to force the referee to call off the contest in a hurry.
#3 Stand-Up Skills
Standing knockouts are not Karaki’s calling card, but he is far from outmatched on his feet.
Though he may not have done anything as spectacular as Aung La N Sang’s head kick KO of Alexandre Machado or uppercut knockout of Ken Hasegawa, he plays to his strengths when he and his opponent are upright.
“O Lutador” is not too aggressive with his punches and kicks, instead preferring to use them to set up other attacks or disrupt his opponents’ rhythm.
The most dynamic part of his offense is arguably his ability to level-change in an instant, which gives him the ability to slip strikes and shoot in with power to score takedowns – bringing a contest directly into his wheelhouse.
He also is adept at securing underhooks and keeping his base low to prevent himself from being taken to the mat.
#4 Experience Against The Odds
This will not be the first time Karaki has gone into the lion’s den to take on a hero in their homeland in search of championship gold.
In December 2015, the Lebanese athlete traveled to Egypt to face Ibrahim Elsawi – the most dangerous opponent of his career.
Elsawi was more experienced, had a 100 percent finishing rate, and enjoyed the passionate support of his compatriots in Cairo, but “O Lutador” did not let any of these factors affect him as he captured the Desert Force Middleweight Title.
He dominated the contest – taking the defending champion down at will to earn a unanimous decision.
This was also the only time Karaki has been out of the first round, but he showed he can battle hard and maintain pressure until the final bell.