Few martial arts athletes have announced their arrival on the planet’s biggest martial arts stage as emphatically as kickboxer Tarik “The Tank” Khbabez.
The Dutch-Morrocan warrior wasted no time sending a signal to the rest of the Light Heavyweight division, immediately displaying the pedigree that has made him a multiple-time world champion in both Muay Thai and Kickboxing.
In his debut at ONE: Pinnacle of Power in Macau in June, Khbabez made an enormous statement with a third-round stoppage victory over four-time Muay Thai and Kickboxing Heavyweight World Champion Alain “The Panther” Ngalani.
Three months later he displayed the same kind of dominance against compatriot Ibrahim “Mr. Cool” El Bouni, putting his opponent to the sword to force the referee to put an end to the bout early.
In March, a decision win over Andrei Stoica soon made it three straight, and after a trio of consecutive victories of the highest caliber, you could forgive Khbabez for feeling a touch hard done by not getting a crack at the title shot in his next bout.
“I am very disappointed I didn’t get [the title shot]], I always give 1000 percent for ONE Championship, but for me, every fight is a World Title fight,” said Khbabez.
Instead, he’ll look to continue his overwhelming wave of momentum when he takes on Brazil’s Anderson Silva at ONE: Legendary Quest in Shanghai on June 15.
Khbabez isn’t one to dwell on matters out of control. Instead, he’ll simply get back to doing what he does best – which is throw a diverse range of power-laden strikes from all angles with the cruelest of intentions.
“I need to win every fight, I need to dominate, and show the world who I am. I am Tarik – dominating each and every opponent they put in front of me,” said Khbabez.
That starts with overcoming the considerable challenge presented by Silva, who’s coming off a show-stopping first-round knockout of his own against Andre Meunier at ONE: Roots of Honor in April.
But Silva’s victory left Khbabez less than impressed, and he believes a fourth straight win is a mere formality.
“I have seen the fight, but he is not on my level. This ‘big finish’ of his is rather amateurish. Now it’s my time,” Khbabez concluded.
Judging by what we’ve seen of late from the towering powerhouse, who could argue with that?