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Japanese stakes ONE title

Yoshitaka Naito and Alex “Little Rock” Silva (ONE Championship photo)

Yoshitaka Naito and Alex “Little Rock” Silva (ONE Championship photo)

By Jerome Lagunzad

Japanese star Yoshitaka Naito is ready to go the full distance when he puts his ONE strawweight world championship belt on the line against Brazilian challenger Alex “Little Rock” Silva tomorrow night at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.

Still undefeated in 12 matches, Naito aims to keep his stranglehold over the coveted title he clinched at the expense of Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke in May last year and defended against Filipino rival Joshua Pacio five months later.

This time, Naito is expected to have his hands full against Silva, a second-degree black belt and Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion riding the crest of five-bout winning streak, making him more dangerous than ever.

But Naito is unfazed, saying: “His grappling is extremely good. His strength is of course his ground techniques, but his striking is probably not a big threat. He has never gone five rounds, so if it goes the distance, it will be my time.”

Silva, who defeated previously unbeaten Hayato Suzuki via a submission last month, is confident that he can sustain his roll. But that doesn’t mean he’s taking Naito lightly.