Both men are elite strikers at the top of their games, but their contrasting styles should make for a fascinating battle when they collide at ONE: FIRST STRIKE on Friday, 15 October.
Here are the keys to victory for both “Killer Kid” and “Turbine” as they take their first step in the world’s greatest kickboxing tournament.
#1 Sitthichai Dictating The Range
Sitthichai is a master at fighting from long range and finds most of his success from the outside.
His biggest weapon is his left kick, which serves a variety of purposes. He uses it to manage distance, bludgeon his opponent’s body and arms, and draw out predictable counters that he can stay one step ahead of.
His teep is another tool that makes the most of his length. The Thai star typically uses it to prevent aggressive foes from charging in, therefore maintaining the optimal amount of space for his own attacks.
At a comfortable distance, he’s content to smash away with left-sided weapons – kicks to the legs, body, and head, as well as straight punches to the body and head.
#2 Ozcan Getting In Close
It’s clear that Ozcan will have to close the gap to win this clash, but going strike-for-strike with an out-fighting specialist like “Killer Kid” would be futile. He has to come in tight and use tact.
A linear attack would be too easy for Sitthichai to pick off, so the SB Gym athlete must move his head when he enters to avoid being an easy target, try to create angles outside his rival’s punches, and then unload once he’s in range.
Moreover, Ozcan will struggle to herd his foe in the much larger Circle. His best option will be to draw out counters from “Killer Kid,” who will then become more stationary with his feet planted.
Once “Turbine” has navigated the Thai’s danger zone to get inside, he’ll be well-placed to unleash his stunning combinations that mostly consist of rapid punches, punctuated by heavy low kicks.
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#3 Sitthichai Intercepting Ozcan’s Aggression
Though he’s most at home on the outside, “Killer Kid” also employs some crunching tools to capitalize on a marauding opponent whose only tactic is to charge in.
His gut-munching left knee is a thing of beauty. Foes often leave themselves open to it when they get more desperate to attack the Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Champion.
Sitthichai intercepts their punches with that hard knee to the body, utilizing his own power and their momentum to great effect. Fellow Grand Prix entrant Davit Kiria found this out when Sitthichai stopped him with a crunching liver shot in 2016.
Along with his knee, the Sitsongpeenong Muay Thai Camp athlete has showcased improved boxing, which includes a solid uppercut that he uses to sneak through the gaps of looping punches.
“Killer Kid” is used to his opponents trying to press forward, so he remains calm under pressure and has a good eye for the holes they leave open in those situations.
#4 ‘Turbine’ Getting Busy On The Break
If long-range exchanges are out of bounds and getting in close is treacherous, Ozcan must make sure he takes advantage of opportunities when he’s earned his way inside.
Sitthichai’s go-to move is to frame away and separate when he’s chest-to-chest with adversaries – but there’s a chance that Ozcan can make the most of this tendency.
The Turkish athlete must look to strike during the transitions between ranges when “Killer Kid” tries to angle off and get back to the center.
Fellow tournament contender Marat Grigorian scored well with his left hook on the break when he finally managed to topple Sitthichai in their fifth meeting, and Ozcan can take some tips from that similar stylistic matchup when he battles the Thai icon.
He can swing with hooks and overhands as the fight moves from in tight to out on the open, hopefully catching “Killer Kid” with his hands down.