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“I have the confidence to win here” – Masaaki Noiri ready to beat Sitthichai and the world’s best in ONE

“I have the confidence to win here” – Masaaki Noiri ready to beat Sitthichai and the world’s best in ONE

Masaaki Noiri wants to make an immediate impression in ONE Championship by knocking out one of the biggest names in kickboxing on Friday, June 7.

The Japanese star will make his debut against Thai icon Sitthichai “Killer Kid” Sitsongpeenong at ONE 167: Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II on Prime Video, and while he knows he’s in for a tough test, that’s exactly what he signed up for.

As a two-division K-1 world champion, Noiri is already recognized as one of the sport’s best pound-for-pound competitors, but he wants to cement that status among ONE’s elite featherweight ranks.

Speaking ahead of his first outing at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, the 31-year-old said:

“ONE really brought together the best fighters in the world from different promotions, which is why I wanted to challenge myself on that stage. I have the confidence to win here, that’s why I came to challenge them.

“Sitthichai has long been a famous fighter, strong and with excellent technique. This is the model of a left-handed fighter.

“He was knocked out in his last fight against Marat Grigorian, but during his career he is still a very strong fighter with more victories. For me, he is the strongest opponent I have faced so far.

Currently ranked #3 in the featherweight kickboxing division, Sitthichai is a decorated world champion with wins over Tawanchai PK Saenchai, Grigorian and Superbon.

His incredible skills have kept him at the top for over a decade, and Noiri recognizes how dangerous his next rival is.

Few have successfully navigated “Killer Kid’s” impeccable distance control and accuracy, but the Japanese striker sees weaknesses he can exploit when they clash.

He said:

“Sitthichai’s strength does not deviate from his style until the end. Do not fight at an abnormal distance for him. Even against Grigorian when he was shut down, he could still basically fight his fight, which is a strength.

“His weakness is defense when the distance gets closer. Last time out he got caught with a body shot for the knockout loss, so that will be an area to focus on this fight.

“He won’t want to fight within my range, he will want to keep his distance. So from his perspective, this could be an unfavorable matchup.

Masaaki Noiri has ‘nothing to lose’ against kickboxing icon

Although he has won many coveted titles in his native Japan, Masaaki Noiri enters the world’s largest martial arts organization with the idea that he must earn its respect again.

With Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong being a recognized global star, the Nagoya native expects to be the underdog when he enters the Circle for the first time. But it’s a role he’s enjoying heading into June 7.

More motivated than ever to create a surprise, Noiri declared:

“I really think Sitthichai will have a ‘can’t lose’ attitude and will be more serious than ever. He will come with the mentality of having fought at the highest level so far. It will reach its absolute peak. And by defeating this, I can prove my own strength.

“It’s my debut with ONE so I have nothing to lose. I’ve always had a challenger mindset, but this time I’m the real, legitimate challenger. The expectations and pressure from fans will only fuel me.

With his hunger at an all-time high, the two-division K-1 world champion wants to cause disarray at the top of the featherweight kickboxing division by scoring an emphatic stoppage on one of its longest-serving veterans.

Noiri has his eyes on reigning king of the division Chingiz “Chinga” Allazov and interim titleholder Superbon, and if he can take out “Killer Kid” in style, he knows he’ll be in the mix.

He said:

“I think how I win this fight will be important. This will determine my next opponent. But I want to get to the world title as soon as possible.

“I think since Grigorian knocked out Sitthichai in the third round, if I can get the knockout faster than that, a lot of people will recognize my strength. This is the clearest way to make a statement.