Namiki Kawahara experienced Lito Adiwang's thunderous punch first hand, and he will not be having fond memories of it.
The Japanese MMA champion was flattened in his ONE Championship debut after absorbing a left hook from Adiwang in ONE: Unbreakable over the weekend in Singapore.
The punch earned Adiwang a second-round KO victory and earned Kawahara a loss in his ONE debut.
“A loss is a loss, I admit that. But this is a loss that will give me the tools to be better moving forward,” Kawahara said.
“I lost because I’m not experienced fighting foreign athletes with unique movements like Adiwang,” he added. “And that left hook, it went really fast and I didn’t see it.”
Kawahara, who tipped his hat to Adiwang, promised a much more technical approach but still put on an exciting match, particularly in the early goings.
“I know that he’s really aggressive, but actually Lito’s aggressiveness was fun and I really really enjoyed that,” Kawahara said.
What he didn’t enjoy was Adiwang’s leg kicks.
The 27-year-old Filipino targeted Kawahara’s legs throughout the match, throwing him off his stance.
Adiwang acknowledged he had to adjust to Kawahara’s karate stance, too, but it was the kicks that ultimately won Adiwang the duel of styles.
“The striking battle was orthodox versus orthodox, but in Japan, there aren’t a lot of athletes who kick like him, especially the middle kick and the calf kick and that made things difficult for me,” Kawahara said.
“It’s all about the right calf kick. That kick was pretty annoying because he had a really good right kick. It totally ruined my distance, so next time maybe I’ll try to go for a takedown and use my advantages there.”
FROM THE ARRCHIVES