The ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Grand Prix kicked off in exciting fashion at ONE 157: Petchmorakot vs. Vienot last Friday, with four strikers punching their tickets to the semifinals.
Second-ranked Superlek entered the Grand Prix as one of the favorites – alongside reigning ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon – and he solidified that status with a one-sided thrashing of Taiki Naito.
Still, “The Kicking Machine” was a little bit disappointed that he couldn’t score the finish, and he vowed to improve for his next battle.
The Thai star said:
“The plan was to start with a lot of strikes. I wanted to get the KO. I’m not too impressed with my performance because I didn’t get the KO I wanted.
“There was a lot of pressure, especially for the first fight in the tournament. I want to be better in the next fight and the final fight. This World Grand Prix is a very important one, and I want to get the title.”
Superlek will take on Goncalves in the semifinals, and he respects what the Brazilian brings to the Circle.
But while he expects a tough match from start to finish, the 26-year-old has faith that he can earn a stoppage against a durable opponent.
“The Kicking Machine” said:
“He’s a really good fighter. I watched his fights and I will never underestimate him at all. It will be a better fight in the next fight. I will have a better plan and fight even better.
“I think my attacks are good, but I think I need to have more [power] in the strikes and have a much better variety of strikes.
“I’m still confident, but I would never underestimate him. I want a KO win in ONE Championship.”
Walter Goncalves: ‘It’s My Time Now’
Walter Goncalves made a name for himself in ONE Super Series with an epic five-round battle against Rodtang Jitmuangnon in 2019, falling just short via split decision.
Now, the 23-year-old is hoping to show fans what he is truly capable of achieving – and he did just that at ONE 157.
On Friday, the Brazilian stopped ONE debutant Josue “Tuzo” Cruz after just 35 seconds of their quarterfinal contest, putting the rest of the tournament on notice with the only finish of the round.
It was a massive moment for Goncalves, who is still riding high from the decisive win.
He told ONE Championship:
“I have a sore throat from so much shouting [after I won]. I was waiting so much for this victory and here it is so I’m very happy.
“I knew I was going to win by knockout. I just didn’t know when the time would come, but I knew I was going for him. I trained my fists for it, and the moment I hit that spot directly, I could feel it.”
Following his impressive performance against Cruz, the Brazilian will face an even tougher assignment in Superlek Kiatmoo9, who is considered one of the greatest Muay Thai strikers on the planet today.
However, that doesn’t faze Goncalves one bit. Instead of worrying about his renowned opponent, the rising star believes Superlek should be just as concerned about their semifinal showdown.
He’s only thinking about the factors within his control, and he believes that mindset can propel him to the tournament’s coveted silver strap.
“It’s time to talk about Walter Goncalves and how dangerous I am because I came here to win, and it’s my time now.
This is a world-class tournament, so you never know who’s really going to win. I will say this is the most confident and the most prepared I’ve ever been, so I don’t want to make predictions. I just want to go there and show them what I can do.
“I had the chance to watch Superlek, and he’s quite good. He has good right kicks. But again, I’m getting ready to be the champion and to get the belt back home [to Brazil].”