Though Kudo lacks experience in competing on foreign soil, mainly showcasing his wares in his native Japan, he believes that the exposure he gained with ONE Championship has helped him mature as a kickboxer.
Kudo has evolved his training regimen to be at par with the world-class athletes in ONE Super Series. For his upcoming match at the Phu Tho Indoor Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, he believes that using the open-finger 4oz. gloves will add more power to his punches. Kudo full believes he can drop Panpayak and finish the Thai.
“My experience level has truly increased,” Kudo said.
“The first time I fought in ONE was my first time facing a foreign fighter. On the other hand, now I’ve faced five – all at a world-class level – so my ring maturity and level have gone up noticeably. I want to show that this time. I’ll be pressing my attacks from the first round, so I’ve raised my stamina.
“I’ve thoroughly worked on everything from the basics. I’ve been doing more strength and conditioning. I’ve always had confidence in the power of my punches, and this time it’s my first bout using open-finger gloves, so I have the power of the one-punch KO.”
The 28-year-old Japanese fighter knows better than to underestimate his opponent. Panpayak holds a career record of 244-40-3 in Muay Thai and has won the biggest tournaments in Thailand.
After watching Panpayak’s previous matches, Kudo has more or less an idea of his opponent’s strategy.
“[Panpayak] has a complete grasp of distance control. I think his understanding of the distance [so he does not get] hit by his opponent’s attacks is amazing. Honestly, watching his fights, he has the better technique – it’s excellent,” Kudo said.
“He has probably watched how other Thais have fought me and will use the same approach. He’s southpaw, and he’ll probably want to clinch up when I move in to stop my attacks. In my last two fights, that’s how they broke my rhythm.”
Kudo knows that he is at a disadvantage when it comes to kicking but he is confident that his superior boxing skills will help in the match. The RISE Featherweight Champion plans to be aggressive and put Panpayak’s lights out in the first round using his boxing skills.
“He’s a World Champion, so I can’t win if I get caught up in his kicking game. I’m going in with boxing and looking for the knockout finish from round one,” Kudo said.
“I think my boxing skills are better than his, and the open-finger gloves will suit me. Also, because he fights from his distance, when he’s forced back, his pace is broken.”
The Japanese athlete also studied how ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon moves in his matches as he finds similarities in their styles. He also trains with more prominent athletes with the same style as his Thai opponent to make sure he can deal and take the damage without getting knocked out.
“I studied Rodtang [Jitmuangnon’s] fights because his style is similar. I thought he used the open-finger gloves well and avoided getting hit. That was a good example for me,” Kudo said.
“I’ve been training with Hideki, the K-1 Global Champion, who is a southpaw, and it’s been very useful. He competes at lightweight, so he’s big – two weight classes above me – so we’ve been using a lot of power shots in training. I’m used to getting hit hard!”
Kudo has done his part in preparing for his match against Panpayak. All he’s waiting for is to give fans the most electrifying bout of the evening and hopefully a knockout as well.
“My record of knockout finishes speaks for itself, so I want to show the fans that,” Kudo concluded.
“I’ll be attacking constantly to give the fans an entertaining fight. He’s not the brawler type, but, whatever happens, I want to raise the roof!”