Iranian juggernaut Amir Aliakbari steps into the ONE Circle for the first time this Friday (Dec. 4) at ONE: Big Bang. However, fans are still waiting on just who Aliakbari will meet in his debut.

The 36-year-old was preparing to face Russia’s Islam Abasov, but at today’s media conference, Aliakbari told reporters the fight had fallen through but that ONE was working on a short-notice replacement.

It would be a brave or perhaps foolish soul who would want to step in at the last minute against a fighter as psychically imposing as Aliakbari. A former world-class wrestler, Aliakbari become a professional MMA fighter in 2015 and has amassed an impressive 10-1 record. His only loss came against MMA legend Mirko Cro Cop at the RIZIN Openweight Final in 2016.

Aliakbari has seven first-round victories to his name. He aims to earn his eighth on Friday, regardless of who he squares off against.

” We’ve had a really good camp. A really good fight preparation to get here. It’s been a few months in the making. We’re very excited for this. We’re going to shock the fans in our debut with our performance,” said Aliakbari.

“After twenty months of practicing and getting ready for a fight, I’m very excited to get in there. Fans can expect a very high-thrilling fight.”

Aliakbari is looking to spearhead Iranian MMA and has created his own team AAA, in Iran. He must be doing something right as he told reporters that ONE had signed his entire team to fight deals.

Until recently, the talent pool in ONE’s heavyweight division has been a lot shallower than lighter weights. The promotion has made moves to change that, signing several new fighters to bolster its ranks.

Aliakbari said that be believes he is a step above all of the recent signings in terms of talent and that he is also the fighter best positioned to grow the division’s popularity.

“The Iranian people do a very good job of supporting their own; anytime there’s an Iranian athlete, the entire country stands behind them. The number one priority is the fight this weekend, but after that [it’s about[ opening up a pathway in Iran, ” he commented.

Current heavyweight king Brandon Vera will face India’s Arjan Bhullar in the coming months. Aliakbari will be chasing the winner of that bout. He stated to reporters that he felt his debut should have been for the title due to his popularity and his record.

If he can put together an impressive showing this Friday, then combine his record with the fact he is backed by Ali Abdelaziz, one of the sharpest mangers in MMA, a title shot in the near future seems a distinct possibility.

How do you think Aliakbari will go in ONE?