Naito And Mitsatit See Clear Routes To Victory In Manila

Yoshitaka Naito faces Pongsiri Mitsatit at ONE MASTERS OF FATE

Both Thailand’s Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit and Japan’s Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito admit their opponent has a clear path to victory.

Their bout next Friday, 8 November, at ONE: MASTERS OF FATE is almost certain to be a classic striker versus grappler match-up, with the outcome balanced on a knife-edge.

If Mitsatit can stuff his rival’s takedowns, he believes he stands a good chance of ending the contest via knockout.

The 23-year-old Chiang Mai native has earned every one of his wins in ONE Championship via KO, and his dynamic stand-up offense – which also earned him 72 wins in Muay Thai bouts – is exactly the kind of thing that has caused Naito trouble in the past.

“I think my opponent’s weakness would definitely be his stand-up game,” says Mitsatit.

“I don’t know if I can win, but I will try my best. I want to bring victory to all Thai people.”

Naito recognizes the firepower he will face in the Circle, particularly in his opponent’s kicks.

After the way he has been outstruck in the past, the 35-year-old from Matsudo focused on finding ways to be competitive on the feet – and he is keen to show off the improvements he has made.

“I haven’t made any big changes [to my training], but I’ve been working on my basic striking form,” he says.

“At my gym, I’ve been training with guys with better striking than myself. For example, recently I’ve learned some from Senzo [Ikeda].

I want to show what I’ve strengthened. As always, I want to show [fans that I will be] fighting for my life.”

With that said, the former ONE Strawweight World Champion knows where his greatest strengths, and “The Smiling Assassin’s” greatest weaknesses, lie.

He is under no illusions that his best chance of victory is to take the young Thai knockout artist out of his comfort zone, and he has a plan to do that.

Compared to his striking, his ground game isn’t as good as mine, so I’ll put that on him. I want to take it to the ground, so that’ll be one of the keys in this match,” Naito adds.

I think I have to look for a way forward to launch my attacks without backing off. I want to put him on his back, so it’ll be a case of getting him down or being pushed off. [For me] the fight will take place in the clinch.

“I’m not your usual fighter. I want people to see my unique style, and I’ll excite the crowd as much as possible.”

An upright battle at close-quarters would suit Mitsatit down to the ground because it would give him the chance to unleash the kind of knee strikes he used to finish Robin Catalan in May.

However, the Tiger Muay Thai representative admits he will be in for a difficult night if his back ends up on the mat, but vows he will do everything in his power to survive and earn what would be his biggest and most important win on the global stage for martial arts.

“He’s a lot better than me on the ground. I’ll admit, if he takes me down I don’t think I’ll be able to beat him,” he says.

“I don’t know what the outcome of this competition will be, but I will do my best and am always striving to do better.

“Every time I enter the ring or the cage, I always bring my best to the people watching.

“This match-up is really important to me, because if I win it brings me one step closer to the World Title.”

Read more: Top 5 KOs From ONE: MASTERS OF FATE’s Superstar Strikers

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