Muay Thai Star Walter Goncalves Feels ‘Very Well Prepared’ For Tough MMA Debut Against Banma Duoji

Walter Gonclaves strikes Josue Cruz at ONE 157

Longtime Muay Thai star Walter “Iron Hands” Goncalves is finally ready to bring his elite striking to the all-around sport of mixed martial arts.

On July 14 at ONE Fight Night 12 on Prime Video, the former ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Title challenger will make his highly anticipated MMA debut when he squares off with Chinese sensation “The Prince” Banma Duoji live in U.S. primetime.

That intriguing showdown at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, will be the culmination of a lengthy process that’s seen Goncalves develop his budding ground game.

The Brazilian isn’t taking his transition to MMA lightly and says he’s gone through all the necessary steps to ensure he’s ready to hit the ground running and immediately compete at the highest level:

“I’ve been training jiu-jitsu for a long time, but since I was fighting Muay Thai, I couldn’t dedicate myself fully to grappling training. But now it’s different. I’m totally focused on MMA, and I’m sure I’ll make this transition well.”

With over 70 professional striking bouts on his resume – including a narrow split-decision loss to Thai megastar Rodtang Jitmuangnon in 2019 and a victory in the 2022 ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Grand Prix quarterfinals – the 25-year-old has firmly established himself as a top striker.

But according to Goncalves, he’s been targeting a switch to MMA for some time now, putting in the extra work to complement his dangerous stand-up game.

And after all of that training, he feels confident that it’s the perfect opportunity for a switch:

“This transition was something I had been planning for a long time because I had this dream and this desire to fight MMA. I was just adapting to training and waiting for the right moment to make my debut. I’ve been training hard, and I’m going to arrive on the day of the fight very well prepared.”

Goncalves Unafraid To Grapple With Banma

Given his accomplishments in the striking world, it’s no surprise that Walter Goncalves has been given a skilled and experienced opponent for his first-ever MMA fight.

Sporting an impressive 13-2 professional record with a 100 percent finishing rate, Banma Duoji will present a seriously stiff test for the Brazilian.

But for his part, “Iron Hands” says he wouldn’t want it any other way:

“[Banma is] a very tough guy, very strong, and very experienced in MMA, but since I’m well prepared, that won’t make me fearful or worried. On the contrary, it only motivates me to train harder to face him. I’m sure I’ll have a great fight with him and, God willing, I’ll get the win.”

Part of what excites Goncalves about this matchup is his opponent’s affinity for exchanging strikes on the feet.

Naturally, the Muay Thai star would welcome a stand-up war with Banma:

“I watched some of his fights, and I saw that he likes to throw kicks and punches. I think those are his strong points. But I also like to do that, so let’s put on a show! I didn’t see any weaknesses in his game, but I don’t think he can handle striking with me.”

As long as the fight does remains on the feet, Goncalves will aim for a KO finish.

But if it hits the canvas, he’s also ready to showcase his never-before-seen grappling skills and make a powerful statement in his MMA debut.

He added:

“It all depends on which way the fight will unfold, but I hope to get the knockout. I rely on my agility, my punches, and kicks. But, if he wants to take the fight to the ground, I’ll be prepared too.”

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