The Russia’s Republic of Dagestan is known for producing some of the world’s best martial artists, and Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev is definitely no exception.
The Dagestan-born Turkish star currently owns an impressive 5-1 professional mixed martial arts record, but even before putting on a pair of four-ounce gloves, Arslanaliev was already an elite martial artist, something that he credits to his upbringing.
“I am from Buynaksk in Dagestan,” Arslanaliev shared on ONE Championship’s official website. “The city is famous for its fighters. I believe I am lucky because as I grew up, I was surrounded by very tough guys. The city has a high unemployment rate. Everyone is trying hard to make it through sports.”
Sports has always been part of his life, according to Arslanaliev. Growing up, the 23-year old brute proudly recalled his love for training, which eventually helped him earn the respect of his peers.
“I enjoy training and fighting. When my mother saw that I was talented, she started to support my career as a fighter. The more I improved, the more people like my friends, coaches, and relatives took me seriously,” he stated.
As a youth, Arslanaliev excelled in Wushu-Sanda, which led to him becoming a three-time Dagestani Champion, as well as a Russian, Armenian, and Azerbaijani National Champion.
Soon enough, Arslanaliev discovered Pankration, an early iteration of what is now known as mixed martial arts.
When he and his family relocated to Istanbul, Turkey, he found himself trying his hand at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, one of the main pillars of modern mixed martial arts.
Coming from a striking-based Wushu-Sanda background, the introduction of a submission-based discipline excited Arslanaliev, and before long, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu had absorbed him.
“I was very amazed that I could use all the arts together. That sounded like fun,” he expressed. “I never before knew BJJ could be so effective on the ground, so I decided to study BJJ deeper.”
That drive eventually translated into a career in mixed martial arts, and he made his debut in 2014 with first-round knockout win in the Croatian regional circuit.
Nearly two years later, Arslanaliev made the jump to ONE Championship and immediately made an impact.
His first three contests on the ONE Championship stage lasted a combined two minutes and 55 seconds, all ending in quick first-round stoppages.
The lone loss on his record to date was a disqualification due to an illegal kick against Bulgarian stalwart Georgi “Stanchev” Stoyanov in January 2017.
This past March, the Corvos MMA product bounced back in impressive fashion by scoring a third-round submission victory over Japanese veteran Tetsuya Yamada.
As remarkable as his current run in mixed martial arts is, making it even more impressive is the fact that Arslanaliev is based in a country that is not particularly high on the sport of mixed martial arts.
“Living in a country where the sport is not well known was difficult,” he explained. “I came to reach this point in my career just by my and my team’s efforts. I did not have any sponsors. In fact, I still do not have any local Turkish sponsors.”
Competing on the most prestigious martial arts platform in the world, Arslanaliev hopes that one day, Turkey will come to embrace the sport as he has, especially since he represents the country every time he sets foot on the ONE Championship canvass.
“This is very sad because I believe I am representing my current home in an international arena very well. Even though it has been difficult, I am always optimistic. Hopefully things will change in the near future,” he expressed.
At ONE: CONQUEST OF HEROES on Saturday, 22 September in Jakarta, Indonesia, Arslanaliev returns to action against another tough Russian contender in Timofey Nastyukhin in a showdown with serious title implications in the lightweight division.
A win for Arslanaliev will surely elevate his status in the talent-filled 77.1-kilogram division, currently ruled over by reigning two-division world champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen.
Winning the ONE Lightweight World Championship will be the realization of Arslanaleiv’s number one goal upon coming into ONE Championship.
“When I entered ONE, I did not enter to just win a few fights,” he remembered. “Even when we were getting ready for my debut fight, we were really getting ready for the man who holds the title belt.
“I will take that shiny ONE Championship belt home,” Arslanaleiv continued.