During lockdown, fighters have had plenty of time to think about prospective opponents. Lito Adiwang is no exception and the strawweight prospect has singled out one fighter who he wants to face.

Adiwang would like to lock horns with a former strawweight champion,

“I want to test my ground game against an elite grappler, and that guy is Naito,” he said.

Yoshitaka Naito holds a submission win over Adiwang’s Team Lakay training partner Joshua Pacio, who currently holds the strawweight strap. The Japanese fighter sits at #2 in the official ONE Championship rankings for the division.

Adiwang is currently ranked #5. The ONE Warrior Series veteran is riding a seven fight winning streak but Naito would represent his greatest challenge yet.

Point to prove

There was a time when Team Lakay fighters had a reputation for being a bit of a soft touch on the ground. That era is well and truly over but Adiwang still feels he has a point to prove in this respect,

“I want to prove to everyone that we in Team Lakay are not just strikers and that we continuously work on our ground game. He’s an excellent grappler and that’s why it’s a perfect test for me,” he said.

Interestingly Adiwang feels that he has a psychological advantage against his opponents. The 27 year old believes this is just as important as his physical preparation,

“As always, I feel like my advantage against Naito is my strong mind. I always put in my mind that I’ve already won, I just need to put in the work.”

Point of contention

Several Team Lakay representatives have beaten BJJ black belts so the camp’s fighters shouldn’t be feeling insecure about their grappling prowess. But for Adiwang, who is coming off a submission win over Pongsiri Mitsatit at ONE: ‘Fire & Fury’, it remains a point of contention,

“I want the fans to appreciate the hard work that we’re putting in each day to improve our skills on the ground. I won my last two fights via submission, but there are still a lot of negative comments saying that I only won on the ground because I took on strikers,” he said.

Given how much momentum Adiwang currently has it is surprising to learn that his recent performances had attracted negative comments. His win over Senzo Ikeda at ONE:’ Century’ was somewhat fortuitous in that the Japanese fighter suffered an arm injury.

Hard work

But you don’t put together an 11-2 record by being lucky. In fact the only split decision Adiwang has ever been involved in went in his opponent’s favour, that was the last time he lost back in 2014.

However Adiwang won’t be happy until he’s submitted a renowned a grappler. He wants to take on that type of opponent and beat them at their own game,

“I am confident with the hard work that I put in and I am confident I have what it takes to submit a submission artist.”

He is not about to fight team mate and training partner Pacio. But Adiwang is looking towards the upper echelons of the division and thinks he has what it takes to not just beat former champion Naito, but to do so with a submission.