A mouthwatering ONE featherweight kickboxing grand prix semifinal fills the co-main event slot at ONE Championship: Only The Brave on Friday, Jan. 28. Third-ranked featherweight kickboxing contender Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong will face off against Georgian powerhouse Davit Kiria. But this won’t be the first time these two striking stars have competed against each other.
ONE Championship will play host to the Sitthichai-Kiria trilogy bout this weekend. Sitthichai leads the series 2-0, but he understands that he will be meeting a very different Kiria to the one he faced in 2015 and 2016.
“Even though this fight is my third time with Davit Kiria, I still feel the same excitement, because he has made obvious progress,” said Sitthichai. “His skills are desperately improved.
“He won a knockout in the last fight. And, I see that his punch is heavier, and his body gets even better. So I’m excited to have a chance to fight with him again this time.”
The Thai star hasn’t had an easy journey in the grand prix so far. His quarterfinal bout against Tayfun Ozcan was a three-round war, and he only escaped with victory via split decision. The tough bout has only served as extra motivation to not leave any doubt in his third bout against Kiria, as “Killer Kid” eyes the silver belt at the end of the road.
“My motivation is to be a champion,” said the 30-year-old. “Put simply, I want to be a world grand prix champion this year. Because this is a big global event, that will be a great pride and honor in my career. In addition, I’m getting older, so I want a title from a big event once in my lifetime. I think this world grand prix is the biggest event in my life.”
Kiria’s quarterfinal performance went the opposite way of Sitthichai’s. The Georgian stunned the global audience with a swift three-knockdown TKO over Germany’s Enriko Kehl in the first round of their matchup. He was crisp and powerful and showed how he could be a dark horse to take down the tournament crown.
Still, Sitthichai feels that his familiarity with Kiria will be a key to pulling the plug from his power in their third meeting.
“For our third clash, I think the result will be no different from the first two, because I’m used to his style very well,” said the Thai star. “And, I think I will definitely beat him again. But I will not be careless because he is better – especially his punch. I need to be careful of that.
“My game plan is to stay away from him. I won’t risk fighting him in the close distance because his punch is deadly. And, he is very good with close-distance combat. I will use my left shin with him from a distance, because I know that he doesn’t like knees and a Southpaw like me. So, I will use my shins and knees to weaken him. I prepared these two gifts for him. And, if I get a chance to knock him out, I’ll do it for sure.”
The trilogy’s high stakes will bring out the best in both men as they are one step away from the grand prix final. And two steps from Superbon, the ONE featherweight kickboxing world champion.
Sitthichai feels he is in a good position to take the win in the co-main affair, and he had a message for his longtime foe.
“Tell Davit for me, this is our third date, and I will beat you again because my next goal is ONE world championship,” said Sitthichai. “So, I’ll move on from you. Let’s finish our business here. And, you’d better watch out for my left shin and knee, because it is deadly.”
ONE Championship: Only The Brave will air on YouTube at 7:30 a.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 28.
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