Samy “AK47” Sana just punched his ticket into the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Championship Final.
The two Europeans met in a semifinal bout, and both set off fireworks inside the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.
In the opening moments of the contest, Sana connected with a flurry of heavy kicks and continued to sting his 33-year-old Russian adversary every time he attempted to close the distance.
Askerov, who booked his place in the final four by overpowering Enriko “The Hurricane” Kehl in May, failed to find a similar hole in the Frenchman’s defense.
Towards the end of the first stanza, “AK47” scored a decisive blow. He uncorked a quick left hook and then sent his shorter foe crashing to the canvas with a thudding right hand.
The Russian answered the referee’s eight-count, but he still appeared a little dazed. Nevertheless, he hung tough until the bell rang to end the round, and he returned to his corner to regroup.
Sana continued to apply pressure in the second frame.
The 30-year-old Frenchman advanced with powerful kicks, but “Genghis Khan” wisely remained two steps out of his tall opponent’s range.
Although it may have seemed like Askerov’s confidence was waning, he chained some valuable offense together. He connected with a left hook and a monstrous right hand at the midway point of the round.
He also threw his signature “Rolling Thunder” heel kick in the final seconds of the period, but Sana saw it coming and dodged the creative strike.
Both martial artists unveiled their full striking arsenal in the third and final round. Sana came close to landing his jumping knee, while Askerov narrowly missed a spinning back fist.
The Russian maintained a very good distance from “AK47,” who refused to play into his opponent’s game. Instead, he took control of the Circle and tried coaxing “Genghis Khan” to meet him in the middle.
While the two continued to trade strikes, the Parisian won most of the exchanges whenever his adversary tried to advance with punching combinations.
After three rounds of action, the judges deliberated and awarded Sana the victory by majority decision.
With the win, he moved his record to 135-9-1 and advanced to the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Championship Final.
The tournament is set to conclude at ONE: CENTURY in Tokyo, Japan on Sunday, 13 October, and the winner is guaranteed to receive US$1 million dollars.