This is it for ONE Championship’s Danial Williams.
The multi-skilled combat sports athlete has had an eventful run with the martial arts giant so far, but he may never have a better chance at claiming a world title than when he faces ONE strawweight kickboxing world champion Jonathan Di Bella in the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 15: Le vs. Freymanov this weekend.
Story by Daniel Meehan (Australian Correspondent at ONE Championship).
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Williams has readily accepted short-notice opportunities throughout his promotional tenure. The first came against ONE flyweight Muay Thai world champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon on debut in 2021, before he again stepped in to save the ONE Fight Night 8 main event against flyweight kickboxing divisional king Superlek Kiatmoo9 in March of this year.
Taking on the Thai superstars was a big ask for the Perth native, who was required to move up a weight class for his shot at glory. While he gave a good account of himself on both occasions, the size difference proved to be too much as he fell to a pair of defeats.
A 3-1 run under MMA rules was sandwiched in between the two striking battles, allowing Williams to show that he possesses genuine knockout power when he competes in his native strawweight division.
On October 7, the 30-year-old has his best chance to claim a 26-pound gold world title belt when he faces Di Bella – this time with time for a full fight camp in preparation.
The Canadian Italian is a second-generation kickboxing world champion, who began his training at just two years old under the guidance of his father and former champ Angelo Di Bella.
The younger Di Bella made a stunning debut under the ONE banner in October 2022 when he defeated Chinese prodigy Zhang Peimian by decision in a “fight of the year” contender to capture the strawweight kickboxing crown.
Williams, however, believes that the fighting experience he has gained across 33 battles in Muay Thai and kickboxing, as well as eight in MMA, will hold him in good stead against his undefeated foe.
“I think his technique [is his biggest strength]. His technique is wicked. He’s got a really good lead hook and he’s got fast kicks. Because he’s grown up with his dad being a champion, training since two years old, that’s all he knows and he’s destined to do it,” he said.
“He just hasn’t fought someone like me. From what I’ve seen from his opponents, they’re not big names, just not like someone who’s had that experience in martial arts in general. I think my mind’s going to be stronger, and I’m going to have more power – that’s a big one.”
After coming up short in huge main events in the past, Williams knows that this could be his last chance to establish himself as one of the very best martial artists on the planet.
“Mini T” – as he is affectionately known – plans to fight accordingly.
“Expect absolute fireworks. I am just going to walk forward. I’m going to be able to take his shots. I’m going to give him my best shots that I’ve got,” he said.
“I’ve been very blessed for ONE to give me the opportunities, and I feel like, because this one is in my control, this is do or die. This is how I’m treating it.
“I’m going to be fighting myself in there. I’ve just got so much to prove and there’s no excuses this match. There’s nothing I can fall back on. This is it. I just don’t see losing as an option. Unless he knocks me out, then it’s going to be mine for the taking.”
ONE Fight Night 15: Le vs. Freymanov goes down at the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand and is headlined by the ONE interim featherweight MMA world title showdown between former divisional champion Thanh Le and surging Russian contender Ilya Freymanov.
The action will be broadcast live on the 7Plus app in Australia and kicks off at 8am AWST.
Image Credit: ONE Championship