Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit (9-0) is back, and he is ready to continue his climb up the ranks of ONE Championship’s strawweight division.
The Chiang Mai, Thailand resident’s journey took an unexpected detour earlier in the year.
He was supposed to clash with former ONE Strawweight World Title challenger Joshua “The Passion” Pacio (11-2) at ONE: GLOBAL SUPERHEROES in January, and was deep into bout preparations at his camp, Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket.
But with just days to go until the event, Mitsatit was forced to withdraw.
“It is always frustrating for me to cancel a fight due to injury,” the 22-year-old Thai hero says.
“Training was going smoothly, but then I suffered a stomach infection from food poisoning after eating at a local market. It took a few weeks before I started to feel right, and I have been training ever since.”
The contest has been rescheduled for ONE: REIGN OF KINGS, which will broadcast live from the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, the Philippines, on Friday, 27 July.
Though the unbeaten Mitsatit – who is a Northern Thailand Champion in Muay Thai – has not competed in the ONE cage since defeating Jeremy Miado in November, he has continued to develop and perfect his skills in several disciplines alongside his teammates at Tiger Muay Thai.
The Phuket-based facility has churned out numerous champions in both Muay Thai and mixed martial arts, which made the transition from Mitsatit’s old base at Team Quest Thailand easier, and means his time outside the cage has been productive.
He is best known for his devastating striking and stunning knockouts, but the Thai star has added new elements to his game since joining the gym in December.
“It has been very hard not competing for so long, but I have been using that time to improve my ground game,” he reveals.
“I love the training there. Coach George Hickman takes very good care of me. I feel I have improved a lot in every aspect of my game since I joined Tiger Muay Thai.”
“The Smiling Assassin” is likely to need all of his new abilities to take out Pacio. Though “The Passion” is known for his wushu striking skills like the rest of his Team Lakay stablemates, most of his victories are by submission.
He began this year with an impressive display of his grappling capabilities, as he took down Chinese Sanda Champion Lan Ming Qiang, dominated him on the ground, and finished him with a first-round rear-naked choke.
Along with his own momentum from a two-bout winning streak, which began with a stunning spinning knockout of Roy Doliguez last November, Pacio should also be filled with confidence because of his team’s success so far in 2018.
The squad has won all but two of their contests in ONE this year, including Geje Eustaquio’s defeat of Adriano Moraes to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion in June.
Pacio would love to match his training partner’s accomplishment and wear gold himself. He will undoubtedly look to use his bout with Mitsatit as a stepping stone to catapult himself back into the ONE Strawweight World Title picture.
However, “The Smiling Assassin” is not concerned with the success of his opponent and the Baguio City camp. He is confident about the training he has received at Tiger Muay Thai, and he feels his skills stack up very well against “The Passion’s.”
“I have no idea how Team Lakay’s training regimen is, but it is not a matter of the gym. It is a matter of dedication and motivation,” Mitsatit explains.
“[Pacio] is a good fighter and I am excited to compete against him. You might be surprised, but you may see me perform some takedowns and submissions.”
This is a crucial match-up for the Chang Mai native, as he looks to remain undefeated and take one more step towards his ultimate goal of becoming the ONE Strawweight World Champion.
He would also love to add to his reputation as a finisher. All but one of his mixed martial arts victories have come by way of stoppage.
If he can continue in that vein and stop Pacio, he believes he would send a message to the division’s reigning king Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito.
“A win will get me closer to that title shot,” Mitsatit acknowledges. “When it comes, I will give it some thought.”