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Kawahara Vows To Finish Adiwang In ‘Awesome, Aggressive’ Opener

Jan 20, 2021

Namiki Kawahara has no intention of playing a small role in ONE Championship. Instead, the Japanese Mixed Martial Arts Champion has come to the global stage with gold on his mind.

The Osaka native will get the chance to put his name among the top contenders straight off the bat when he faces Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang at ONE: UNBREAKABLE this Friday, 22 January.

Despite the late-notice call to compete at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Kawahara is ready to make a big first impression.

“I decided to compete in ONE to become the World Champion, so whoever my opponent is, it doesn’t matter. I just have to win and beat him up,” he says.

Kawahara answered the call when “Wolf of the Grasslands” Hexigetu was forced to withdraw from his scheduled bout against Adiwang.

Fortunately, the 31-year-old was staying fit as he waited for the right opportunity – and this was an opportunity he simply could not refuse. 

“Before I got the offer, I was training and my condition was really good, so I had to take it,” Kawahara states.

“The reason I decided to fight Lito is because he is a good fighter, a dangerous fighter, and if I beat him, I’ll be closer to the ONE [Strawweight] World Championship. It will be a big win for me, so I am excited.”

Meanwhile, Adiwang was preparing for a grappling specialist in Hexigetu. Now, he will have to adjust for Kawahara, whose biggest threat is his powerful striking.

In fact, the Team Alpha Male representative earned his last six victories inside the distance, with four of those wins coming by knockout.

For that reason, Kawahara is not fazed by the renowned stand-up power of Adiwang. He believes he can match the Filipino in that area, which should lead to some stunning action in Singapore.

“Lito is a really, really good fighter, but whoever he knocked out in the past doesn’t matter. He has never fought me,” the Japanese warrior asserts.

“Lito might be dangerous, but I am also dangerous, and I will prove that in the Circle.”



Kawahara will meet Adiwang at a critical junction in the Team Lakay man’s career. Up until his last contest, the Filipino was on a seven-fight winning streak that extended back to 2016.

But Japanese talent Hiroba Minowa halted that momentum in a hard-fought battle at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX III this past November, using his wrestling to secure a split decision victory.

That means “Thunder Kid” must win on Friday to resume his charge toward the top, but after watching Adiwang’s last bout, Kawahara wants to match – and even surpass – the winning performance from his compatriot.

“If you look at [Minowa’s] fight against Lito, it was a really close fight,” the Team Alpha Male product offers. “And to be honest, as a result, he won, but it wasn’t that interesting. What I have to show is a better way to win.

“I already have something prepared, and I’m sure Lito will have something prepared. He will have observed me. We’re both in the same situation, so let’s enjoy it and have a great fight.”

Given the skill sets of both Adiwang and Kawahara, the most likely outcome is a fiery display of mixed martial arts action when they clash inside the Circle.

The Japanese fighter agrees, and he is ready to open up his ONE slate — and the promotion’s 2021 calendar — in style.

“It’s the first bout [of the card], but the opening bout is going to be awesome, aggressive. It’s going to be a knockout fight, but only one man is going to be standing at the end,” Kawahara says.

“All I’m thinking about is finishing him, that’s my aim. If it’s stand-up, I’ll knock him out. If it goes to the ground, I will submit him. It’s as simple as that.

“I will show not just a win, but a good win, and I will crack into the strawweight top five. After that, it will be the World Championship.”

Read more: Lito Adiwang ‘Hungry’ To Rebound After Difficult End To 2020