Jonathan Di Bella made his ONE Championship debut in the best way possible, winning the vacant ONE Strawweight Kickboxing World Championship at ONE 162. The Italian-Canadian edged Zhang Peimian on the scorecards to capture gold in his first appearance on the global stage.
Di Bella knew that he was entering as the underdog, but he would not let it phase him heading into such a massive opportunity.
“It means a lot. Especially coming here in his territory and in Asia, and everybody had it against me. And there was, I believe it was 75-25% for him against all odds. I told you I was going to give you a war. I told you I was going to do my talking in the Circle, and I did,” said Di Bella.
Di Bella heard Peimian’s words about his lack of power and how he would finish him by knockout. The undefeated promotional newcomer used it as motivation against his Chinese opponent. When the bell rang inside the Axiata Arena, the words no longer carried weight, and it was time for action.
“But you got to earn respect. When you say you’re going to knock somebody out, you got to knock somebody out. So he didn’t earn my respect there. But I respected him as a fighter and everything, as a person. But he said he was going to knock me out, he should have knocked me out, but he didn’t,” said Di Bella.
“Everybody was saying that he had power and everything, but he didn’t really hit that hard. I felt more power from other people, from my training partners. I didn’t really feel that much power, but I’m used to getting hit with heavier shots. His toughness was impressive. His toughness, that’s it.”
Di Bella said that Peimian regretted his pre-fight words as soon as he hit the canvas following a stunning fifth-round knockdown that sealed the victory for the rising Canadian star. The knockdown also put him at ease when the final bell sounded, knowing he finished strongly in front of the judges. He only wishes he had a few extra seconds to finish the bout instead of taking it to the scorecards.
“I wasn’t nervous because I finished well. I finished with a knockdown, and if it was a few more seconds, like a minute more, not even, maybe 40 seconds left, I would have for sure finished him. If it happened in the fourth round, I would have finished him even earlier,” said the Italian-Canadian.
The newly minted ONE Strawweight Kickboxing World Champion called it the perfect matchup, as “Fighting Rooster” was seen as the next big thing in the division. Di Bella likened it to Rocky IV as if he was going against Ivan Drago. Much like Rocky, Di Bella scored the upset win.
As the division’s new king, Di Bella is ready for all possible contenders. After a long training camp and grueling championship battle, he said he needed a month off to recover before returning to the Circle. But when he does step back under the bright lights, he has a simple message for the rest of the division.
“Anybody that wants to come fight me. I’m here,” said Di Bella.
Jonathan Di Bella DROPS “The Fighting Rooster” in the FINAL MINUTE! 🤯
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One championship, One fc, Mixed martial arts
Black Belt Magazine
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