June 3, 2023

It did not take long for Team Lakay’s Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang to make an impact in ONE Championship. 

After three consecutive wins in Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series, the Filipino earned a contract to compete on the main roster.

The “Thunder Kid” would continue his phenomenal run of form on the global stage, as he secured two thrilling first-round victories over Senzo Ikeda of Japan and Pongsiri Mitsatit of Thailand.

Those exploits have made him the number five contender in ONE’s strawweight rankings, but Adiwang is far from being satisfied.

“All of (my fellow strawweights) are good challenges,” he said.

“As someone who’s in the bottom of the rankings, I have to prove myself.”

When it comes to his preferred next opponent, the “Thunder Kid” has a specific name in mind.

“I want to test my ground game against an elite grappler, Yoshitaka Naito,” Adiwang said.

Naito is the former world champion and currently ranked second in the division.

“He’s an excellent grappler and you know he will try to force you to play his game on the ground. That’s why it’s a perfect test for me,” the Igorot fighter said.

Indeed, facing Naito would make perfect sense for Adiwang, who knows a match-up with the Japanese star would be a challenge, but he believes he can get the job done.

“As always, I feel like my advantage against Naito is my strong mind,” he said. 

He added: “Every time I enter the circle, I always put in my mind that I’ve already won. I just need to put in the work. One advantage he has over me is his experience, as he has fought many times already in the circle and he knows how to win.”

While the Team Lakay camp is one of the most respected mixed martial arts gyms in Asia, a lot of pundits still question the athletes’ ability to compete on the ground against the top grapplers in the world.

“I want to prove that we in Team Lakay are not just strikers and that we continuously work on our ground game,” Adiwang said.

“I want the fans to appreciate the hard work that we’re putting in each day to improve our skills on the ground. I won my last two fights via submission, but there are still a lot of negative comments saying that I only won on the ground because I took on strikers,” he added. – ONE release