above, the full fight
Japanese fighter Saya Ito is the 100 lb WPMF champion. She took the title from fellow Japanese fighter Little Tiger, the 32-year-old WPMF champion who many felt was dodging Saya and others to just hold onto the title herself (she had it for maybe 2 years with no title defenses that I can remember). Finally when they fought in September of 2015 the title changed hands. This was the rematch, and Saya Ito’s first title defense. I believe this was in March of 2016.
This title and these fighters are my proper weight class and I’ve beaten pretty much everyone who will fight me who is in the rankings for it, including Saya Ito, back in August of 2014. That was a huge fight for me on Thai TV and on the Queen’s Birthday, and the first time I realized that my clinch game could beat the best fighters in the world at my weight – even though at the time I was not yet skilled in the clinch, in a technical sense, something I’ve made great strides in. Since that time Saya Ito and I actually have trained together a little at the O. Meekhun gym here in Pattaya, on extended stays she took for training in Thailand. I suspect that from her experience of me, and my particular strength in the clinch – clinch can be like kryptonite to some Japanese fighters, because clinch is not rigorously trained – I won’t have a chance at this title as long as Saya holds it. In fact, there are three fighters that Saya’s team will likely want to avoid: me, Loma Lookboonmee (best proven female clinch fighter in Thailand), and Phetjee Jaa (young Thai clinch phenom and with whom Saya has also trained at her home gym, O. Meekhun).
For Saya’s part, she plans on fighting 10 times in 2016 I am told, though I’m unsure if any of those will be title defenses. In her most recent fight Saya faced the Thai fighter Gaengaew Gor. Glomgliao who had a little bit of a weight advantage here in Thailand, and the fight ended in a draw. I beat Gaengaew a few weeks later. I’ve heard rumors that Saya’s gym is looking for opponents in Thailand and elsewhere. I’m a big Saya Ito fan, and love to watch her fight. She does a fantastic job against a very experienced veteran Japanese fighter in Little Tiger in this fight. I’m pulling for her against every opponent, except of course if she happens to be facing me.