‘I Have The Confidence To Win Here’ – Masaaki Noiri Ready To Beat Sitthichai And The World’s Best In ONE

Masaaki Noiri

Masaaki Noiri wants to make an immediate impression in ONE Championship by taking out one of kickboxing’s biggest names on Friday, June 7.

The Japanese star will debut against Thai icon Sitthichai “Killer Kid” Sitsongpeenong at ONE 167: Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II on Prime Video, and though he knows he’s in for a tough test, it’s exactly what he signed up for. 

As a two-division World Champion in K-1, Noiri is already recognized as one of the sport’s top pound-for-pound competitors, but he wants to cement that status among ONE’s elite featherweight ranks. 

Speaking ahead of his first outing at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, the 31-year-old said: 

“ONE really has gathered the world’s top fighters from across the different promotions, which is why I wanted to challenge myself on this stage. I have the confidence to win here, which is why I came to challenge them. 

“Sitthichai has been a famous, strong fighter for a long time with great technique. He’s the model of a southpaw fighter. 

“He got knocked out in his last fight against Marat Grigorian, but over the course of his career, he’s still a very strong fighter with more wins. For me, he’s the strongest opponent I’ve faced so far.” 

Currently ranked #3 in the featherweight kickboxing division, Sitthichai is a decorated World Champion with wins over the likes of Tawanchai PK Saenchai, Grigorian, and Superbon.  

His incredible skill set has kept him at the top for over a decade, and Noiri recognizes how dangerous his upcoming rival is.  

Few have been able to successfully navigate “Killer Kid’s” impeccable distance control and accuracy, but the Japanese striker sees weaknesses he can exploit when they go head-to-head. 

He said: 

“Sitthichai’s strength is not deviating from his style until the end. Not fighting at an unnatural distance for him. Even against Grigorian when he got closed down, he could still fundamentally fight his fight, which is a strength. 

“His weakness is defense when the distance gets closed. Last time he got caught with a body shot for the KO loss, so that will be an area to target this fight. 

“He won’t want to fight at my range, he’ll want to keep his distance. So from his perspective, it may be an unfavorable matchup.” 

Masaaki Noiri Has ‘Nothing To Lose’ Against Kickboxing Icon 

Although he has garnered a swathe of coveted titles in his native Japan, Masaaki Noiri is entering the world’s largest martial arts organization with the view that he must earn his respect all over again.  

With Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong a recognized global star, the Nagoya native expects to be the outsider when he steps into the Circle for the first time. But it’s a role he’s relishing ahead of June 7. 

More fired up than ever to deliver an upset, Noiri said: 

“I really think Sitthichai will come with an ‘I cannot lose’ attitude and be more serious than ever before. He’ll come with the mindset of having fought at the top level until now. He’ll come at his absolute peak form ever. And by defeating that, I can prove my own strength. 

“It’s my ONE debut so I have nothing to lose. I’ve always had the challenger’s mindset, but this time I’m the real, legitimate challenger. The fans’ expectation and pressure will only fuel me.” 

With his hunger at an all-time high, the two-division K-1 World Champion wants to throw the top of the featherweight kickboxing division into disarray by scoring an emphatic stoppage over one of its longest-serving veterans.  

Noiri has his eyes set on the division’s reigning king Chingiz “Chinga” Allazov and interim titleholder Superbon, and if he can take out “Killer Kid” in style, he knows he’ll be right in the mix. 

He said: 

“I think how I win this fight will be important. It will determine my next opponent. But I want to get to the World Title as soon as possible. 

“My thinking is that since Grigorian knocked out Sitthichai in the third round if I can get the KO quicker than that, many people will recognize my strength. That’s the clear way to make a statement.” 

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