After a lengthy, year-long absence from competition, undefeated strawweight kickboxing champion Jon Di Bella returns to action on Friday at ONE Fight Night 15 to take on challenger Danial Williams in his first-ever title defense.
Up until recently, there had been a dispute between Di Bella and his boss at ONE Championship, Chatri Sidyodtong, largely regarding who was at fault for his inactivity over the last year, but that seems to be water under the bridge now. We asked Jon about his face-to-face sit down in New York City with Chatri that reportedly smoothed things over.
“Yeah, it seems a lot we agreed on a few things, and some things, when you sit down face-to-face with somebody and respect each other, it’s better to sit down face to face rather than talk on zoom or even via email sometimes. You guys, like, miscommunication a lot of miscommunication on emails and stuff. So to sit down face to face with him and to get to know him as a person, we sat down for over an hour. And we had coffee and yeah, it was really good.”
Di Bella said that he wants to be more active and that that is what he spoke to Chatri regarding, “Yeah, that’s what we spoke about. And I was like, I want to tell him I want to fight more often. He agreed and he’s like, yeah, he’ll be fighting more often, and I’m very happy to hear that.”
Activity is important, fighters need to fight regularly, especially if they want to be the best like Di Bella does, “I just want to be one of the best pound for pound kickboxers. That’s like my personal goal, to be one of the best pound for pound kickboxers in the world, like Chingiz is. So I would like to do that for myself, be one of the pound for pound, and hopefully I’ll do like a Muay Thai fight here and there, but I want to be the best pound for pound kickboxer.”
In the modern era of combat sports, being atop any pound-for-pound list can be helped by moving up in weight to become a double champ, but the champ is not thinking about that at the moment, “I didn’t think about that because I don’t have to cut weight for the fight. I walk around like 124, 125 [pounds], so I don’t have to really cut weight much. So I haven’t thought about going up yet. Maybe in the future if I get bigger, if I keep eating and stuff. But yeah, maybe one day.”
In ONE Championship fighters do not just move around in weight to prove their skills, they can also move between combat sports since ONE hosts four different sports under their banner. Fighters frequently fight in both Muay Thai and kickboxing, which Jon is open to but not focused on.
“I thought about it for sure, and I competed in Muay Thai as an amateur in America. Like amateur, you have to wear headgear and stuff, so it’s not like Thailand… I competed in amateur Muay Thai, but in the pros there was more kickboxing stuff. I’m more of a kickboxer… but in the future for sure. I just want to be one of the best pound for pound kickboxers.”
Di Bella is well on his way to that goal, and being undefeated can help it along, but he says he does not feel pressure to hold onto his perfect record.
“No, I don’t think about records that much. For me, I take one fight at a time, so I don’t try to protect my record. I don’t know if you can say that. I don’t try to protect my record. I just try to give my best in every fight. I think about one fight at a time, that’s all I think about, is giving my best in this fight and my next fight. And I don’t like to lose, so I just like to win, and that’s why I think about, ‘No pressure.'”
Jon’s next opponent, Danial ‘Mini T’ Williams, has fought the best fighters a weight class above in Muay Thai, Rodtang and Superlek. Despite losing each fight, he went toe to to with the best fighters in the sport and that’s why Di Bella thinks he’s deserving of a title shot and a tough opponent for him.
“I believe Danial will compete with anybody in the world, the best in the world. So I think Danial has the power and the ability and the skills to compete with any other tops in the world. So Danial is one of the best in the world, and he showed that with Rodtang and Superlek.”
We pivoted to discussing Jon’s favorite fighters to watch after that.
“My favorite kickboxers to watch is like, Giorgio Petrosyan, also Chingiz Allazov. I like Superbon. I really like Eersel. Regian Eersel. He’s one of my favorites to watch right now. And he’s doing both, back to back Muay Thai and kickboxing, and those are the guys I watch, for sure.”
Discussing Petrosyan, Allazov, and Superbon naturally brought the conversation to the fights between them recently, where kickboxing legend Giorgio Petrosyan was knocked out by Superbon before Superbon was knocked out by Chingiz Allazov in a title fight.
“I was a bit surprised. Anybody can get caught in a fight, so I was not really totally surprised, but the way it happened I was a bit sad. It was a bad knockout, but I love Petrosyan and I like the way he fights. I’ve been watching him since I was in high school. So, yeah, the way to see him move like that wasn’t fun. But Superbon is really good, too. He’s a good kickboxer and then yeah, to see Superbon demolished like that was shocking, too, because it shows how good Chingiz is. But it’s crazy because all styles mix like Petrosyan beat Chingiz and then Chingiz beat Superbon, Superbon beat Giorgio. So yeah, it’s crazy.”
We then asked Jon about what fighters have inspired him in his fight career that he models his style after.
“I watch a lot of boxing. My dad introduced me to kickboxing, so I always look over I look after my dad. He has a great style for kickboxing and he always has knowledge for kickboxing and he taught me to watch a lot of boxers. So I watch a lot of boxing and a lot of boxers are very good. I’ve been watching boxing since I was two years old, so I’ve been watching all kinds of styles like old school boxers and also Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones, and I’ve been watching Terrance Crawford now and yeah, it’s cool.”
Right before saying goodbye, we asked Di Bella to give his prediction for the fight, but he is not concerned with how he wins, he just wants to win. “Man I just have to be myself and show up and do my best. It doesn’t matter how I win, I’m just going to win.”
Jonathan Di Bella defends his ONE strawweight kickboxing title against Danial Williams in the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 15 on Friday, October 6, 2023.