In the annals of modern combat sports, certain venues hold a mystical allure. Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, is undoubtedly one of those hallowed grounds. On October 6, as the relentless roars of the audience filled the atmosphere, Jonathan Di Bella, the formidable ONE strawweight kickboxing world champion, cemented his legacy, not only by retaining his title but by reflecting deeply on his performance and journey.
The atmosphere was electric at ONE Fight Night 15, especially with Di Bella squaring off against the formidable Danial Williams, known to fans as ‘Mini T’. Victory, however, was sweeter given the historic significance of the venue. Di Bella, still basking in the afterglow of his win, shared his sentiments in a post-event heart-to-heart on The MMA Superfan’s YouTube channel, stating, “The energy was very, very cool. It was always an honor and a dream come true. It was amazing.”
It’s noteworthy that Di Bella’s illustrious career has already seen him grace the world-famous Madison Square Garden in New York. Thus, his bout in Lumpinee was more than just another fight; it was an addition to an already stellar legacy, solidifying his standing among an elite cadre of fighters who’ve displayed their artistry in the world’s most renowned arenas.
Yet, true to the mark of a champion, victory did not make Di Bella complacent. Reflecting on his performance, he exhibited the humility that often accompanies greatness. He candidly acknowledged certain lapses in his timing during the bout with the Australian-Thai dynamo. With the assurance of a man who knows his craft, Di Bella admitted, “Yes, I was confident. I believe I won all rounds. Just my performance could’ve been better, wasn’t the one I wanted but I got the W.”
While the record books will show a win, the battle scars bore testament to the fierceness of the contest. Williams’ strategic leg kicks took a toll on Di Bella’s right leg, the aftermath of which was evident post-fight. Yet, in a display of sheer grit, Di Bella brushed off concerns about his leg, humorously attributing his resilience to regular kicks from his father during training sessions.
Williams might have found success with his leg-battering strategy, but Di Bella’s agility and tactical acumen remained unbeatable. The champion deftly navigated the ring, deploying precise counterstrikes and maintaining his dominant posture throughout.
The horizon looks promising for Di Bella. Sporting a flawless 12-0 overall record and an undefeated 2-0 streak in the Circle, he is keenly eyeing ONE Championship’s forthcoming events in North America. Speaking about his aspirations at the ONE Fight Night 15 post-fight press conference, Di Bella voiced, “What’s next is whoever’s next, whatever, whenever’s next, I’m open to fight anybody.” His fervent hope is to dazzle in the upcoming U.S. shows, echoing the sentiments of many who await the spectacle.
Having made a stellar U.S. debut with ONE Fight Night 10 last May, ONE Championship has big plans. With four mega events slated for the U.S. mainland in 2024, anticipation is in the air, even though the exact dates and venues are still under wraps.