Team Lakay phenom Lito Adiwang earned the nickname “Thunder Kid” because of his explosive, lightning quick finishes. The 27-year-old is no doubt one of the most exciting martial arts talents in the world.
Last week at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX III, however, Adiwang’s meteoric rise through the ranks met an abrupt end. Adiwang succumbed to Japan’s Hiroba Minowa via close split decision.
With Adiwang now back in Baguio City, “Thunder Kid” has had time to process his most recent performance, and feels the experience of defeat will only serve to make him a better martial artist.
“I learned a lot from that fight alone. I will come back from this a much better fighter. I think this loss is actually a blessing I can look back on. I know I can’t leave the decision in the judges’ hands. Lesson learned,” said Adiwang.
“It’s still a setback. Honestly, I didn’t see it coming. I fully expected to win. But looking at the big picture, it’s a positive thing. It’s valuable experience to be better.”
After a blistering first round with Adiwang nearly finishing his Japanese foe both on the feet and on the mat, Minowa battled back in the second and third rounds to make it a contest.
There was a little controversy surrounding the first round, however, as Minowa appeared to briefly and inconspicuously tap to a deep Kimura armlock that Adiwang had zeroed in. Adiwang maintains there’s nothing he can do about it now, and that he respects the referee’s position in the Circle.
“A lot of fans told me they noticed he tapped in the first round. I’m not going to say anything except that I am asking for a rematch so we can close the case. The best way to end the speculation is by having a rematch,” said Adiwang.
“I respect him a lot. He has the skill and the talent. But he’s not the strongest fighter I have faced. I just made some key mistakes that led to an undesirable result.”
Looking back at his performance, Adiwang has no regrets going to the ground against a grappling ace.
“For me, I love BJJ. I did try to finish him on the feet like I always do, but he wanted to go to the ground. He was determined. So I went to the ground with him,” said Adiwang.
“Honestly, in the first round, I had that submission locked in. I had his arm trapped, and I left a slight opening for him so he could tap. Everything just happened so fast. All I know is that the armlock was deep.”
Adiwang was riding a seven-bout winning streak heading into the matchup. He burst onto the scene in ONE Championship as part of Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series in 2018.
After three thrilling victories on the hit reality show, Adiwang earned a six-figure contract and soon made his ONE main roster debut. Adiwang dazzled, finishing both Senzo Ikeda and Pongsiri Mitsatit with his impressive grappling in his first two bouts for the promotion.
With the loss to Minowa, Adiwang is expected to lose his ranking in the top five at strawweight. “Thunder Kid”, however, believes this experience happened at just the right time.
“I think this loss happened at the perfect time in my career. It’s better to check myself now, and know my weaknesses, than when I’m at the top already. It’s better to correct the mistakes now. I can tell you, the mistakes I made in this fight won’t happen again,” Adiwang concluded.
ONE Championship returns with ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX IV, a previously recorded event for global broadcast on Friday, 20 November. In the main event, European Muay Thai Champion Aslanbek Zikreev of Russia takes on #2-ranked strawweight kickboxing contender Wang “Golden Boy” Junguang of China in a ONE Super Series kickboxing contest.
Watch the event this Friday, 20 November on One Sports+ at 8:30 p.m. Philippine Standard Time (PHT). One Sports will air the event on a same-day delay at 9 p.m. PHT. Additionally, TV5 will air the event on a next-day delay at 11 p.m. PHT.