Back from injury, Timofey Nastyukhin eyeing redemption inside the cage
ONE Championship on Aug 03, 2017 11:24 AM
“I believe that everything is in God’s hands. I step into the ring with only one thought – to win.' - Timofey Nastyukhin (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
The memories of Timofey Nastyukhin’s catastrophic last bout are still fresh in his mind as a disastrous low roundhouse kick cost him a broken shin, a third career loss, and nine months of rehabilitation.
With the knockout power that he possesses, many cageside pundits believed that Nastyukhin would have a walk in the park when he crossed paths with former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu “No Face” Boku in November 2016.
However, Boku flipped the script when Nastyukhin kicked the Japanese veteran’s front leg and fell to the floor in pain during the second minute of the opening round.
Although Nastyukhin knew that he was injured, he showed superhuman determination and grit to finish the first frame of the lightweight contest.
Nastyukhin tried to subdue the pain that he was going through, but upon the recommendation of the attending physician, the referee deemed him unfit to continue and awarded the technical knockout win to Boku.
“That fateful night nearly cost me my career,” he recalled. “They carried me out of the building on a stretcher, and brought me to the hospital where I heard the diagnosis — a broken tibia. Many people admired my perseverance in that fight, and they cannot believe I finished the round.”
Lying on a hospital bed in a foreign country, all on his own with only an interpreter on the phone to help communicate with doctors, Nastyukhin had to ask himself if he was ready to continue chasing his dream.
Nastyukhin was questioning if the devastating injury and the sacrifices he continuously makes to become a world champion was truly worth it.
“The belt has always been my goal. I am not here to just make up numbers on the roster. But right after the fight, I had all sort of negative thoughts and doubts. The doctors did a fantastic job, and the surgery went well,” he shared.
Nastyukhin had a metal plate placed into his leg, and the day after the surgery, the decision was clear as he decided to continue his career in pursuit of the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
“I made a plan in my head. And I am still following it. There is no turning back,” he stated.
After spending the past nine months rehabilitating from a broken shin, Nastyukhin is finally healed and is now ready to leave that painful part of his life behind him.
The 27-year-old Russian combatant moves on with his prospective mixed martial arts (MMA) career as he squares off with former title contender Koji Ando on the undercard of ONE: KINGS AND CONQUERORS in Macao, China on 5 August.
With a win-loss slate of 12-5-2, Ando was riding on an impressive five-fight winning streak until he dropped a unanimous decision to Shinya Aoki in their lightweight title clash back in May 2015.
The 32-year-old Japanese stalwart came back with a decision win over Roger Huerta in September of the same year, but he fell to unbeaten Hawaiian standout Lowen Tynanes seven months later.
Nastyukhin stressed that is underestimating his Japanese opponent and holds great respect for Ando.
“We fought on the same card before, and I watched him in action. Ando is a solid fighter with experience. He has 12 wins, and some of them are over tough opponents, such as former ONE Featherweight World Champion Narantungalag Jadambaa. Also, he challenged Shinya Aoki for the ONE Lightweight World Title. This fight is not going to be easy. It will be a good challenge,” he said.
The return into the cage is likely to be an emotional one for Nastyukhin as he opts not to give up his dream of having a prestigious gold-plated strap wrapped around his waist.
“I am a fighter. That is my job, so I stayed. I love the adrenaline that this sport is giving me. And now, after a surgery and many months of rehab, I am hungry to step back into the cage,” he asserted.
To prepare for his comeback, Nastyukhin headed to the mountains of Ossetia, an area in Russia that has given the world the most Olympic champions in wrestling.
Following Ossetia, Nastyukhin departed for Omsk, a city in southwestern Siberia, to train at his home club Alexander Nevsky, named after a legendary Russian warrior-prince from the 13th century.
Moreover, Nastyukhin also visited Alexander Shlemenko’s Storm Fight Club before he wraps up his training camp at Tiger Muay Thai and MMA Training in Phuket, Thailand.
With nearly a week away from his much-awaited return to the cage, Nastyukhin is focused on getting his hand raised in triumph and proving to the world that he has overcome both the mental and physical effects of his injury.
“I believe that everything is in God’s hands. I step into the ring with only one thought – to win. This time, it will be emotionally tough, but I am going to show up and do my job,” he ended.
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Catch ONE Championship: Kings and Conquerors on Saturday, August 5th LIVE starting at 8:30 PM on S+A channel 23!