On a fight card headed by a pair of non-MMA championship bouts, there’s a matchup further down the bout order that has major implications for ONE’s bantamweight championship picture at ONE Fight Night 11.

Kwon Won Il has won four of his last five inside the ONE Circle, and the No. 4-ranked contender returns to action on Friday, June 9 looking to press his claims for a shot at the promotion’s bantamweight title.

Kwon faces fifth-ranked contender Artem Belakh, who is riding a three-fight win streak and looking to make a statement of his own. But the South Korean “Pretty Boy” plans on delivering an attention-grabbing performance at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium.

Ahead of his bout, he shared his thoughts on his upcoming matchup, his preparation, and his career to date.

You are making your ONE Championship return after a long absence. What have you been doing lately?

I have been busy with my business lately. I recently opened a gym called P-Boy MMA, and I’m currently working on launching a new spicy sauce called Knock Out Spicy.

Nice! Since you’re still working on the hot sauce, tell us about the gym. Why did you want to open it?

I have always dreamed of being an entrepreneur. The gym is just the beginning. I always enjoy new challenges. The motto of my gym is “slow but solid.” P-Boy MMA is a gym where everyone can come and enjoy it without any stress.

I already have my own team, but I have no expectations. I just want everyone to be happy and enjoy training.

Speaking of training, you’ve been working hard for your return against #5-ranked contender Artem Belakh. What are your initial thoughts on him?

Artem seems like a good guy, but he’s too nice to provoke. In my opinion, his main strength is his physical power. However, he lacks speed, and I possess a greater range of skills.

So, what have you been focusing on for this fight?

To excel in my strengths. I focused on improving my striking skills. Since my opponent is strong and good at wrestling, I also trained to defend against wrestling techniques.

Are there any special skills you want to show off in this fight?

No need to show off skills. Just watch the fight. I’ll finish it in the second round.

Is there anything giving you extra motivation this time around?

In ONE Championship, all my wins have been finished, but I haven’t received a bonus yet. But, of course, there will be a finish this time, and this time, I will work harder to get a bonus.

Lastly, we need to ask, your old rival – ONE bantamweight champion Fabricio Andrade – said in his year-end 2022 interview that, “Beating Kwon Won Il was my best memory since my professional MMA debut.” What are your thoughts about that?

Andrade seems to be a good guy, even though he says something like that. If he can keep the belt, I will take it away from him someday.

Photos: ONE Championship