Earlier this year Buakaw Banchamek knocked Kota Miura out in his eagerly anticipated return to Rajadamnern Stadium. The bout was billed as an exhibition but turned out to be a competitive kickboxing bout.

Given the gulf in experience it was no surprise that the two time K-1 Max winner and Muay Thai veteran prevailed over the mixed martial artist. But there are clearly no hard feelings and the two men have been training together as Buakaw prepares to take on another Japanese opponent tonight.

Miura and Buakaw worked out together earlier this week at the Rompo Gym in Bangkok:

Fifth meeting

Buakaw is facing Yoshihiro Sato tonight at Rajadamnern. The Japanese fighter is the only man to have ever knocked him out and this will be the fifth meeting between the two men.

The first took place at the K-1 World Max 2006 final with Buakaw winning by KO to become the tournament champion for the second time. But while Buakaw has remained extremely active Sato stopped fighting in 2015 and will be coming out of retirement for this contest.

Sato faced Buakaw three times in K-1 Max tournaments and lost the first two but got his revenge with a stoppage victory in 2008. Five years later he travelled to Thailand to face Buakaw in a Muay Thai fight and lost by decision.

Miura flew in to Thailand for the fight earlier this week:

Poster boy

Miura’s poster boy looks have made him a fan favourite in Thailand. He is the son of a famous footballer in Japan and has a big social media following.

But it remains to be seen whether he has the talent to justify the hype that has surrounded his decision to become a full time fighter. He beat a debutant at Rizin 33 and then beat another debutant at Super Rizin in a bout that had special rules.

In the latter fight Miura submitted Bunchuai Phonsungnoen, a Muay Thai fighter with absolutely no MMA experience. Afterwards Shannon Wiratchai called him out and the sense is that the fighter is getting an easy ride from Japanese matchmakers, although his fight with Buakaw was anything but.

Having spent time working out with Buakaw this week it will be interesting to see who Miura is cheering for tonight. Will it be his Japanese compatriot or his new training partner?