March 2022’s ONE X proved to be a harrowing night in the career of strawweight mixed martial arts star Lito Adiwang, but he was determined not to let the injury he suffered get the better of him.

“Thunder Kid” returned to action after 18 months of recovery last month and stormed through ONE Championship veteran Adrian Mattheis in just 23 seconds. He’ll now attempt to put a cherry on the top of his comeback when he makes a fast turnaround to rematch Jeremy Miado at ONE Fight Night 16: Haggerty vs. Andrade on Saturday, 4th November.

Adiwang’s upcoming fight will be significant, as the injury that put him out for a year and a half happened in the second round of his first meeting with Miado last March. The 30-year-old suffered devastating knee damage just as he felt he was building momentum against his Filipino compatriot.

And while his win last month came in lightning-fast fashion, the arduous road back to competition was anything but.

Months of rehabilitation and embracing the process were both physically and mentally demanding, according to the man himself.

“I think my warrior mentality definitely played a big role here. Another would be reflecting on the hardships of life that I had to go through. I’ve been through a lot already, and this injury is just another obstacle to overcome,” Adiwang said.

“We were super positive psychologically, but physically, it gave out. From there, I really had to surround myself with the proper advice and people, like the doctors and those with expert knowledge about this injury.

“I needed to balance out my positivity and eagerness since there really is a process that needs to happen. That’s what I went through for this recovery.”

Competing for the first time after his injury was a massive milestone for Adiwang. Mixed martial arts is a fast-moving sport, and time on the side can leave an athlete way behind the competition.

“Thunder Kid” knew this before his return, and starching Mattheis in less than 30 seconds was the perfect way to remind ONE’s strawweight MMA ranks of just how dangerous he can be.

Next month, the Filipino star will look to finally topple Miado, who had little sympathy for Adiwang as he balanced on one leg prior to the stoppage in their first bout.

The frightening finish to his return at ONE Friday Fights 34 has him brimmed with confidence. And while he admits his knee might never be the same as it once was, the Team Lakay standout insists he’s back to his best.

“I can be honest here and say that nothing beats the original (knee). One thing I noticed is that my knee right now is, kind of, deformed. The other would be my mobility feels a little bit off in the sense that before, I could stretch my knee with no problems, but now, there is a slight limitation to it,” Adiwang said.

“But the power and everything, I truly believe I’m back.”