Yoshitaka Naito (11-0) sent a chilling message to Thailand’s MMA hopefuls in ONE Championship’s main event, as he smothered their beloved Strawweight Champion, Dejdamrong Sor Anuaysirichoke (6-1) and choked him unconscious in the fourth round.

The message was clear; get good at grappling or your Muay Thai skills are useless.

It had been a magnificent night for Thai MMA and it was all going by the script. Four wins out of four and the valiant champion Amnuaysirichoke looked like he had all the tools to retain his belt and make it a clean sweep for Thailand.

The high-level Japanese grappler Naito was not privy to the script, however, and spoiled the party at the Impact Arena.

The undefeated fighter nicknamed “Nobito” dragged the Muay Thai legend to the mat several times, clung to him like a python, and clasped his arms around the helpless Amnuaysirichoke’s neck. His Muay Thai skills were nullified on the mat and although his defence was heroic, he was simply facing a superior grappler.

Yoshitaka Naito ONE

He couldn’t fend off the relentless wrestling of Naito, who was able to implement his game plan to perfection. He was crowned the new World Strawweight champion in front of a stunned, patriotic crowd. Another Muay Thai legend, Saenchai, who has recently announced his imminent transition to MMA, will surely have taken note.

Amnuaysirichoke had said before the fight that he would show the world what Muay Thai was about, and he did. He wowed the crowd with his incessant pressure, wicked strikes and textbook knees in the clinch. Yet Naito took everything he had; this grappler was not wilting.

Despite all the impressive Muay Thai flashes, which had the crowd in raptures, he was worn down and finally succumbed to the Rear Naked Choke.

Naito had taken his back several times, but Amnuaysirichoke had wriggled free, stood the fight up and returned to his Muay Thai attack, making it a highly dramatic fight. The crowd then watched in disbelief as their Superman met his Kryptonite was put to sleep in the fourth round.

Prior to this shocking moment, the night had been a showcase for Thailand’s budding MMA scene. Teenage sensation Pongsiri Mitsatit (6-0) opened the show with a mauling of his opponent in the first stanza, via nine unanswered knees to his foes temple.

Pongsiri Mitsatit def Ye Thway Ne

The 19-year-old “Smiling Assassin”, who hails from the mountainous regions of Chiang Mai, has the world at his feet. He is clearly a well-rounded fighter, who is also explosive, marketable and battle-hardened with over 100 Muay Thai fights under his belt.

Following “Piak’s” victory, Thailand got in their stride and won their next three bouts in the first round, impressively. Shannon “One Shin” Wiratchai (5-1) rained punches upon his felled opponents skull until the referee had seen enough. The ruthless 41-year-old Yodsanan Sityodtorn (2-1) followed suit, also adopting the ground and pound technique as his preferred weapon of choice.

The high level wrestler Kritsada “Dream Man” Konsrichai (4-2) also finished with a flourish in the first round to continue the running theme. This night, Thai MMA showed that its transition from Muay Thai to mixed martial arts is happening and it’s very real. The main event was a stark reminder that being an expert in one area of martial arts will not cut it in this game.

Official results for ONE: KINGDOM OF CHAMPIONS

Strawweight World Championship bout
Yoshitaka Naito defeats Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke
Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:00 minutes of round 4

Featherweight World Championship bout
Marat Gafurov defeats Kazunori Yokota
Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:25 minutes of round 2

Catchweight bout (73kg)
Timofey Nastyukhin defeats Rob Lisita
Knockout at 0:06 minutes of round 1

Catchweight bout (95.8kg)
Marcin Prachnio defeats Leandro Ataides
Split Decision

Lightweight bout
Shannon Wiratchai defeats Kyal Linn Aung
Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:17 minutes of round 1

Featherweight bout
Christian Lee defeats Rocky Batolbatol
Verbal Submission (Strikes) at 2:14 minutes of round 1

Catchweight bout (62kg)
Yodsanan Sityodtong defeats Khon Sichan
TKO (Strikes) at 3:44 minutes of round 1

Strawweight bout
Pongsiri Mitsatit defeats Ye Thway Ne
TKO (Strikes) at 2:24 minutes of round 1

Strawweight bout
Kritsada Konsrichai defeats Kev Hemmorlor
TKO (Strikes) at 1:58 minutes of round 1