Ilias “Tweety” Ennahachi believes the hardest part of his journey in ONE Super Series is just starting.
For the ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Champion, staying on top is more difficult than reaching it, and the second defense of his crown will come against “The Kicking Machine” Superlek Kiatmoo9 at ONE: FISTS OF FURY on Friday, 26 February.
“You can show the people you are the real champion when you stay the champion, defend [the title], and remain at the top,” Ennahachi says ahead of his headline fight at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“Every time I fight for the title and defend it, I can show the people that I’m still number one.”
The Dutch-Moroccan’s first World Title defense came in his trilogy match against “Metal Storm” Wang Wenfeng at ONE: AGE OF DRAGONS. He fulfilled his goal of fending off the tough Chinese challenger, but that tight victory also made him hungrier to grow.
While fans would probably not agree after the exciting five-round battle, the Utrecht native believes he could have performed much better.
“My last fight was not my best fight, but I won and that is the important thing,” Ennahachi offers.
“Maybe it was better for me [that I didn’t perform so well] because two days after it, I was in the gym, and I trained harder and harder and harder because I don’t want to [perform like that] again.”
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The next man to take on Ennahachi for the gold is a highly decorated striker, but one who is greener in the kickboxing department.
Superlek is a two-time Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Champion who’s gone 4-0 in ONE Super Series, including a big victory in his only kickboxing battle to date.
Ennahachi certainly holds an experience advantage over the Thai star, and he believes that also gives him a skill advantage.
“I think in Dutch kickboxing, we are more complete,” the 24-year-old says.
“I think the Muay Thai fighters are more focused on the kicks, but we are complete with kicks, knees, and punches. When the Thai fighters go to fight kickboxing, they must punch again.”
Though he knows a bit about Superlek – an elite nak muay fighter from the sport’s home nation of Thailand – Ennahachi doesn’t have many specific thoughts on his upcoming opponent.
That’s because the defending World Champion intends to control the bout, impose his game plan on the challenger, and make adjustments if necessary.
“I have seen one of Superlek’s fights. He’s a good fighter — ONE Championship only has good fighters,” Ennahachi says.
“But I am not focused on him. I focus on myself. On the day of the fight, then you can see if my opponent is a very good fighter or not.
“Every person has a weakness, but I fight my game. I have my style, and when I fight, then I can switch my style.”
Indeed, Ennahachi’s blend of different striking elements has carried him to an astonishing 36-3 career record.
Muay Thai stylists and kickboxers alike have struggled to figure him out, and he believes that his fight IQ is one of his biggest assets.
“I think my style is a little bit [like] a karate fighter. I like to move a lot, but I can also go forward and fight,” the Dutch-Moroccan says.
“I have boxing, I don’t have to only fight with kicks, but I think the difference is I fight with my head. I think a lot in my fights.”
Ennahachi will certainly have to be razor-sharp to outwit an experienced fighter in Superlek. But as he showed with a knockout of Petchdam “The Baby Shark” Petchyindee Academy to win the World Title, he’s more than capable of staying a step ahead.
Another performance like that would keep “Tweety” atop the flyweight kickboxing ranks, and he’ll be ready for whatever comes next — including a callout from ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon, who’s set to compete on the same FISTS OF FURY bill.
“I have trained hard for this, three times every day, and I see myself going back to my country, my family, and my team with the belt,” Ennahachi says.
“Superlek is a very important fight for me. Every fight is very important so I can stay number one and see what is next for me.
“A lot of fighters want to fight with me because I am the champion. It’s normal. If Rodtang wants to fight with me, let’s fight. He is beatable, but I am ready for any fighter ONE Championship gives to me.”