Monday, May 18, 2020: What a weekend it was for the fighter acquisition team at the Singapore based One Championship promotions, with the hottest free-agent on the market being scooped up after lengthy negotiations. That signing was 'the talk of town' and credit to all involved in getting it done.
The fighter in question, Thailand's Sittichai Sitsongpeenong, has signed a two-year contract with the growing powerhouse of combat sports, One Championship, where he joins quite an incredible roster in their middleweight division, joining the likes of Giorgio Petrosyan, Petchmorakot Petchyindee, Superbon Banchamek, Jonay Risco, Samy Sana, Yodsanklai Fairtex, Tayfun Ozcan and Davit Kiria in what would be a sensational lineup if and when One Championship host a 70kg 8-man kickboxing tournament.
Sittichai stated - at the weekend - that he is willing to fight everyone on the highly competitive roster, a trilogy with Superbon is high up on his hit-list, but also a dream matchup with the percieved King of the Kickboxing middleweights, Giorgio Petrosyan, another of his preferred matchups on the One stage.
IN THE MIX
Let us take a look at Sittichai and his chances for success in the depths of the One Championship cauldron. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that since Sittichai switched over to competing under Kickboxing rules, in 2015, that is where he is strongest now. By the admission of his team - at the present time - Sittichai is more capable and confident of success against an elite kick boxer, under kickboxing rules, than he would be confident of success going up against an elite MuayThai fighter, under MuayThai rules, in the immediate term. Saying that, you would be naive to bet against him under MuayThai rules. I would though, if he came up against Petchmorakot, at this present time.
Since the beginning of 2015, Sittichai has fought 33 times, with only two of those fights under MuayThai rules: against Crice Boussoukou in February of 2015 and in Sittichai's most recent fight, in November of 2019, he fought against Uzbekistan fighter, Boburjon Tagayev, under MuayThai rules in Macau, on the aptly named Macau Fight Night. That fight was scheduled for kickboxing rules, but was changed to MuayThai rules at the weigh in. Sittichai handled himself accordingly, winning the subdued contest via a unanimous points decision.
I will go on record and state that Sittichai can beat any of the listed fighters above, and will cause them moments of uncertainty in their own pursuit of happiness, if and when he is matched with them and the same remains for Sittichai, he can be beaten by Superbon (he already has, once) he can be mastered by the master, Petrosyan. There is a competent argument that any of the above could beat Sittichai, on their day. This is what makes the One Championship middleweight division so intriguing and will keep the fans guessing, debating and praying for the imminent return of One.
THE TEAM BEHIND SITTICHAI
Sittichai is currently trained by three main protagonists: Jakkrit and Tong for kicking, knees and overall kickboxing combinations. Phaniang handles the boxing side and the man who has molded him to the fighter he is today, is Mr. Monlit, the head trainer at Sitsongpeenong.
For me the hugest single improvement of Sittichai's body of work as fighter has to be his development of his hand speed, accuracy and efficiency of his hands and his awareness of positioning all of which have come from the tutelage of Phaniang. Phaniang, himself a former amateur boxer, comes from the famed teaching school of legendary Cuban boxing coach, Ismael Salas. Salas spent a number of years working in Thailand as the head coach for the Thailand amateur boxing team, back in the early 2000's and most recently he returned to the Kingdom in 2012 to help prepare the Thai boxing Olympic team prepare for the London Olympics. Phaniang learned quite a few tricks in coaching and the need for attention to detail from his time spent with Salas and since he has trained Sittichai that education has rubbed off on the continued development of Sittichai.
Another key component towards the ongoing success of Sittichai is his manager and the owner of Sitsongpeenong gym, Mr. Tim Dharmajiva. He has played it smart, boxed clever in the board room and made all the right moves on the chess board as Sittichai's career has evolved, first at the stadiums under the Petchyindee banner, next with the wave of success with Kunlun. Then, there was the tidal wave of success with Glory.
THE ONE AND ONLY
It was the right time to make the move to One. They have the most competitive fights for Sittichai. They have the budget to match Sittichai's ambition. They have the audience reach for Sittichai to once again showcase his decorated skills to the world and let me say what most people are thinking, Sittichai versus Giorgio Petrosyan is the one we want to see. Oh, hold on mate, what about Sittichai versus Petchmorakot. Sittichai versus Samy Sana. Sittichai versus Superbon: part III.
Yes please....I want to see them all. And Sittichai wants to be number One.
Alright. Alright. Agreed. One Championship has me now!