He only fought once in 2019 but with two Thai fighters featuring on the recent Rizin card Topnoi is hoping to fight in Japan again soon,
“I’ve heard there is a possibility of me fighting again in Rizin this year. I am ready to fight any time, money is a big problem for everyone at the moment, not just fighters, and that is a big motivation for me to get back in the ring.”
Topnoi signed for Rizin in 2018 but has only fought three times for the Japanese promotion. He dropped a decision to Kai Asakura two years ago and his biggest wish for the coming year is a rematch with the former champion,
“He is a fighter I really want to have a rematch with. When I fought him before I was not as disciplined in training and my submission game and wrestling game was nearly zero so I was just bringing Muay Thai into an MMA fight. That has all changed, now I have takedown defense and submission defense and that is a fight I really want.”
While the win over Pimentel was impressive it was far from straightforward. Topnoi was unable to continue after a series of low blows from the Brazilian and the fight was stopped midway through the third round.
Topnoi was a late replacement and took the fight at two week’s notice. He ultimately prevailed by majority decision but it is not an experience he is anxious to repeat,
“I had been training a lot even though I did not have a fight booked. I wanted to fight again and to get some more money in my bank account but I did not feel comfortable in the UAE with the heat and being away for so long with the quarantine and there were a lot of problems with getting to the UAE. It was hard.”
While the pre fight preparations were not ideal Topnoi has been training regularly at Tiger Muay Thai and was in good shape when he got the call. He had stayed busy during the pandemic and knew he was ready to face a BJJ black belt,
“There’s a big difference between our skill sets but I don’t get nervous because I know my striking is good and I can knock anyone out if I keep the fight standing. So we prepared to not get taken down and to not get submitted if I did get taken down.”
The lockdown has been tough on Topnoi, who was only able to fight once last year. During his Muay Thai career he challenged for the Rajadamnern 122lbs title twice, dropping a decision to Surachai on both occasions.
But while the Muay Thai scene in Thailand was up and running towards the end of 2020 he never considered making a comeback,
“I would fight Muay Thai for Rizin or outside of Thailand but I don’t want to fight in Thailand because the money is very low. It is a difficult life.”
Topnoi never earned more than 55,000 baht for a Muay Thai fight despite challenging for one of the biggest belts. He can get nearly six times as much from Rizin so it is not difficult to understand why he is so keen to compete in Japan again.
Asakura is coming off a devastating defeat while Topnoi’s stock has risen after beating a BJJ black belt. The gulf between the status of the two bantamweights is nowhere near as wide as it was six month’s ago and the Thai is desperate for the opportunity to demonstrate just how much he has improved since their first fight.