Despite his late start to martial arts training at the age of 22, former ONE Strawweight World Champion Yoshitaka Naito turned out to be one of the most successful martial artists to ever emerge from Japan. In just four short years since debuting in 2012, Naito conquered the notoriously competitive Japanese scene, captured the Shooto Flyweight Title, and even won the ONE Strawweight World Title on two occassions to stand as one of the best in the world.
It has been an amazing career thus far for the soft-spoken and humble comic book geek from Chiba, Japan. Naito began training in martial arts at the age of 22, and points to his hero Kazushi Sakuraba as his main source of inspiration for doing so. Though not particularly gifted athletically, Naito’s superhuman work ethic saw him reap incredible returns. He made his professional debut in 2012, and quickly took Japan’s flyweight division by storm.
In a whirlwind 10-0 undefeated run, Naito became the Shooto Flyweight Champion. This earned him a shot at Muay Thai legend Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke’s ONE Strawweight World Title upon his promotional debut in May 2016. Though the bout took place on his opponent’s home turf of Bangkok, Thailand, the Japanese warrior was undeterred and captured the belt with a spectacular fourth-round submission to be crowned the strawweight king and a global star.