RIZIN’s break out Muay Thai star Topnoi says “MMA changed my life”

RIZIN, RIZIN 13, Muay Thai, Buriram, Tiger Muay Thai
Topnoi at wrestling class. Photo by Hip Santayanon

This Sunday, Topnoi Tiger Muay Thai will face the biggest challenge of his MMA career when he takes on Kai Asakura at RIZIN 13 in Tokyo. The pair will meet at the Saitama Super Arena in a special rules bout set for 59kg.

Having fought his way through the Thailand circuit, picking up a series of wins with Full Metal Dojo, Topnoi then blasted onto the international scene with a highlight reel-worthy TKO finish of veteran fighter Tadaaki Yamamoto at RIZIN 11. He now stands at 6-1 in MMA, having only lost his pro debut, with no amateur competition to guide him through.

Asakura is a tried and tested MMA fighter with over 20 pro and amateur fights combined. He comes from a stand-up background of both karate and kickboxing, but to the best of our knowledge has never competed in ether discipline. He has a professional record of 10-1, with his only lost coming via the hands of Je-Hoon Moon back in 2017, which earned TFN’s Fight of the Year award.

Despite a relatively shallow career in MMA thus far, Topnoi will be bringing an additional 200 Muay Thai fights with him into his bout in Japan. We reached out to him regarding his preparation for this upcoming match.

“I have the best coaches,” Topnoi said. “Training camp was good, I’m really happy at Tiger. Plus, I feel having already fought on RIZIN, I’m more prepared this time around.”

Tiger Muay Thai, RIZIN, MMA, Muay Thai, Buriram, RIZIN 13
Topnoi pictured with his coaches George Hickman (centre) and Alex Schild (left) at Tiger Muay Thai.

Topnoi is a formidable opponent who is willing to trade. Back in July, for his international debut at RIZIN 11, we learned he can take a punch with 4oz gloves. This matchup however is being fought under special rules, and will allow elbows. With an extensive Muay Thai career as his base, this addition will greatly favour the Thai.

Representing Thailand on one of Asia’s largest fight promotions is an honour for the Buriram native, who hopes that his performance will inspire a new generation of Thai athletes to step into the cage.

“A lot of Thai people have a misconception about MMA. It’s not dangerous, it’s a sport just like Muay Thai.”

Having fought professional Muay Thai for over a decade, MMA has now taken the 26-year-old to the pinnacle of his career as martial artist.

“MMA changed my life. There are so many opportunities available if you are willing to put in the work.”

With his recent signing to RIZIN, Topnoi has now fully transitioned to MMA. With over a decade of competitive fighting under his belt, the 26-year-old is a definite front runner in Thai MMA.

His head coach, George Hickman, now commands a team of the best Thai fighters to make the transition from Muay Thai to MMA, including Saksurin (ROAD FC), and Loma Lookboonmee (INVICTA).

With only two of Asakura’s wins coming via submission, fight fans can probably expect a violent affair. While Topnoi is aware of his opponent’s take down ability, and general well-roundedness as a fighter, the Thai isn’t worried.

“I’m taking this fight seriously, I’m not going to show off this time.”

RIZIN 13 goes down this Sunday at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo. Catch all the active live via FITE.TV, starting at 3:00pm GMT+9.


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