Yoshitaka Naito has been on the MMA scene for much longer than Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke and has nearly twice as many fights to his name, but the Shooto champion still feels like an underdog going onto this Friday’s title match in Bangkok.
At ONE: Kingdom of Champions, Naito will be challenging for Dejdamrong’s strawweight title. He already holds the Shooto belt in the division and boasts a 10-0 record, but knows the magnitude of this fight is far greater than any of his previous ones.
“He’s a big name. But I can’t challenge a Lumpinee champion that often, so it is an honor, even though my ability is unknown (outside of Japan).”
That the top-ranked Japanese fighter in the division should feel he is living in the shadow of a fighter from Thailand goes to show just how dramatically the power has shifted in Asian MMA. Naito will be getting a career high pay day for fighting Dejdamrong in Bangkok, but he will also be competing outside of his homeland for the very first time.
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All ten of his previous fights were on Shooto cards in Japan and Naito recognizes that, as well as being a step up, this is also something of a step into the unknown.
“It’s my very first fight overseas, so I’m a bit nervous, but also excited at the same time. It’s my first time fighting out of Japan and also the first time fighting a foreign fighter, so it’s an honor, but it’s just that he’s so strong for my first opponent ….View full article