The 29-year-old beat Yuma Horiuchi of Japan via unanimous decision in the first round of the ‘Road to UFC’ tournament at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, after going a full three rounds in the flyweight (56.7 kg) matchup.
The ‘Road to UFC’ event is part of the UFC’s efforts to showcase, and sign, high-level MMA prospects from across Asia, with Top Noi being the only representative from the Kingdom.
The Buriram-native has been honing his skills for the better part of the last decade in Phuket, under the tutelage of George Hickman and Alex Schild, training out of the new Bang Tao Muay Thai & MMA gym alongside the first Thai in the UFC in Loma Lookboonmee, a female strawweight fighter.
A lifelong Muay Thai fighter, Top Noi was able to showcase his elite striking skills during the fight, landing strong punches and kicks against the Japanese fighter, setting up traps with his movement, and utilising his clinch to fend off much of his opponent’s attacks. He was also able to show his improved grappling defense, which has been a focal point of his training over the last few years.
But what turned heads for many fans and media was the entertainment factor, as Top Noi danced while walking out to the cage, continuously playing it up for the cameras, and was noticeably talking to his opponent during the fight. For him, fighting is fun, and he enjoys playing mind games with his opponent, even before the bout. During the weigh-ins and staredown the day before the fight, Top Noi refused to shake his opponent’s hand just to get in his head.
“I do this and him never sleeping. He’s thinking ‘oh, this guy is crazy’. I’m having fun bro,” he said during the post-fight press conference minutes after the bout. “You want to put on a show, to entertain,” he added.
The win ensures Top Noi moves on to the semi-finals of the ‘Road to UFC’ flyweight tournament, for which a date has yet to be set. At the moment, he’s slated to take on Park Hyun Sung (6-0) from South Korea, whom Top Noi has previously trained with.
It’s a dream come true for a fighter who is part of the next generation of Thais moving the sport of MMA forward in Thailand. From fighting in local and regional promotions, he’s climbed up the ranks to potentially join his fellow Thai in the UFC in Loma Lookboonmee.
Right now the future looks bright for Thailand’s MMA scene.