But in order to keep the gold around his waist, Capitan will have to defeat Ramazanov’s mentor and trainer.
Zatout is a former WBC Muay Thai World Champion who owns and operates Venum Training Camp in Pattaya, Thailand. He owns 77 career victories in the striking arts, is riding a two-bout winning streak, and is highly motivated to earn some redemption for his protege and win the richest prize in the sport.
But while the 37-year-old’s combination of experience and hunger could be a dangerous mixture, Capitan isn’t fazed. In fact, he appears quite confident about the World Title showdown – for good reason.
The Thai dynamo has created highlight-reel moments in both of his ONE Super Series appearances, as he knocked out Petchtanong Petchfergus in a record-setting six seconds in September 2020 and then lifted the belt from Ramazanov this past January.
Before he enters “The Lion City” for his first World Championship defense, Capitan spoke to onefc.com about his preparation for Zatout, his desire for a future clash with bantamweight Muay Thai king Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, and much more.
ONE Championship: How well do you know Mehdi Zatout?
Capitan Petchyindee Academy: I’ve watched many of his fight videos. I think he’s a tough guy to deal with because he has [a lot of] experience in Muay Thai, and he’s also a good technical fighter.
ONE: Mehdi trains Alaverdi Ramazanov, who you defeated for the bantamweight kickboxing belt. Do you think they share some similarities in their fighting styles?
CPA: They have a similar style, but I think that Mehdi is more experienced and skilled. Mehdi’s techniques, tactics, and weapons are much better than Alaverdi’s.
ONE: Mehdi and Alaverdi might have discussed your weaknesses. Do you think that could put you at a disadvantage?
CPA: Of course, they are planning to defend my kicks that drastically damaged Alaverdi last time out. Mehdi would definitely counter me with his punches, too. But I don’t think I’m at a disadvantage. I know my weaknesses well from the last fight, and I know how to improve, so this shouldn’t be a problem.
ONE: What do you think are Mehdi’s strengths and weaknesses? And where do you think you hold the advantage?
CPA: His strength is experience. I have to read his movements carefully and watch out for his punches, too. He has powerful and sharp punches. If I’m not careful enough, I might get knocked out.
But he also has a weakness. As for what I learned from his past fights, I noticed that he runs out of gas quickly. He always struggled at the end of the fight. He couldn’t fight for long. Maybe it’s because of his age. So, I’ll make good use of this point. I’m younger than him, so I can use my youth and strength to beat him.
ONE: Because he’s fought against elite Muay Thai fighters like Saenchai, Tukkatatong Petpayathai, and reigning ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, do you think Mehdi is a dangerous opponent?
CPA: I don’t think he’s that dangerous, but I won’t underestimate his experiences. To fight with him, I should need more brain than brawn. I need to focus more on his game plan and counter wisely in order not to fall into his game.
ONE: Does your coach have a special training program aimed toward Mehdi?
CPA: Yes, my trainers mainly focus on defending his fists because if I use my kick, he would definitely counter with punches. I have to attack and defend myself at the same time, so my team focused on this game plan.
ONE: How big of a role has sports science played in your training camp?
CPA: I’ve undergone a special training program to improve my kicking force. We do the training to increase the muscles of both legs, which makes my kicks more functional and powerful. And we have special equipment that can measure my kicking speed and power. Now, I see that my leg muscles are stronger, and I can kick much harder.
ONE: Petchyindee Academy also sends you to a nearby gym to train in the cage. What’s that experience been like, and how has that benefitted you?
CPA: They send me to practice in the cage every other day. By doing this, we are more familiar with the actual dimensions of the Circle, and I can [better understand] how to move and manage the space in the cage. This has allowed me to assess how much energy I need to move around.
ONE: Lastly, you previously mentioned that you would like to return to Muay Thai. But Petchyindee Academy said due to their prior relationship with Nong-O, they wouldn’t allow you to fight him. If Petcyhindee changed their mind, would you like that matchup?
CPA: If they were to allow it, I would want to fight him. I’ve wanted to fight him for a long time because he is one of the best fighters. If there is a chance, I would like to compete with him once to test my ability.
In fact, I never met him or practiced with Nong-O at the camp because I came here when he had already left the gym. So, I don’t have a senior-junior bond with him at all. If the gym allows me to fight him, I’m more than ready.