ONE debutant Masaaki Noiri gunning for a spot in the rankings by beating Sitthichai: “I want to become a champion”

Photo Credit: ONE Championship
Photo Credit: ONE Championship

Japanese kickboxing star Masaaki Noiri plans on wrapping 26 pounds of ONE Championship gold around his waist. But for now, he'll settle for a spot in the featherweight top five.

After collecting titles in K-1, Noiri will make his highly anticipated debut on martial arts' biggest stage when he squares off with Thai sensation Sitthichai Sitsonpeenong at ONE 167 on Friday, June 7.

Speaking with the South China Morning Post ahead of his premiere appearance inside Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, Noiri confirmed that his ultimate goal is to become a ONE world champion — but a spot as the promotion's top featherweight kickboxing contender is more than enough to motivate him.

For now.

"I want to become a champion in the end, but if there’s a space at the top of the rankings, the number one [spot], that should be motivation for me," Noiri said.

Overall, Masaaki Noiri has 49 career victories with 25 coming by way of knockout. Will he score win number 50 at ONE 167?

Sitthichai ready to spoil Masaaki Noiri's ONE Championship debut

Hoping to spoil Noiri's ONE Championship debut is Sitthichai, an eight-time kickboxing and Muay Thai world champion who has gone toe-to-toe with some of the greatest strikers on the planet, including current featherweight kickboxing king Chingiz Allazov, three-time GLORY Kickboxing champion Marat Grigorian, and current ONE featherweight Muay Thai titleholder Tawanchai.

His success inside the Circle has landed him spots in the top five of both the kickboxing and Muay Thai divisions. With a win over Noiri, he will bag his 129th career win and potentially set himself up for a shot at ONE gold.

Will Masaaki Noiri establish himself as one of the division's top contenders right out of the gate, or will 'Killer Kid' add another impressive win to his already illustrious resume?

ONE Championship fans in the United States and Canada can watch ONE 167 live and for free via Amazon Prime Video in U.S. primetime on Friday, June 7.

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Edited by C. Naik
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