Walter Goncalves believes his stunning 35-second knockout of Josue Cruz showed that he could go all the way in the ONE flyweight muay Thai world grand prix.
The Brazilian striker displayed his immense potential in that quarterfinal victory, and he'll look to continue rolling against Thai superstar Superlek Kiatmoo9 in the semifinals at "ONE 160: Ok vs. Lee II" on Friday, August 26.
It certainly won't be easy to defeat the division's No. 1-ranked contender, but Goncalves has made it clear that he'll present a dangerous matchup for anyone.
He previously showcased impressive durability in a five-round war against reigning ONE flyweight muay Thai world champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon. And after his KO of Cruz, opponents will need to be wary of his power, too.
"It was a victory I badly needed," Goncalves said. "I was looking for a performance like that to send a message to the division, and I think I left that message with this huge knockout. I think it was pretty clear to the whole division that I'm prepared for anything."
While he's still a dark horse in the tournament, No. 5-ranked Goncalves could quickly turn that around with a win over Superlek at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Moreover, the Brazilian upstart expects fans to take his chances seriously now that he's reached the final four, where Rodtang and Savvas Michael will battle in the other semifinal contest at ONE on Prime Video 1 later that same day.
"I understand that (Superlek) is the favorite," Goncalves said. "After all, he is a muay Thai world Champion and has more experience in ONE Championship. I don't feel disrespected by that. Being the underdog doesn't bother me. But, in my opinion, everyone in the grand prix is a favorite for the title. Everyone is looking for the (silver belt).
"In the last fight, I think I surprised a lot of people and I think I can surprise them again. So it's (best) that they don't doubt my ability."
Walter Goncalves Questions Superlek's Chin
Superlek Kiatmoo9 is considered one of the greatest pound-for-pound strikers on the planet, so Goncalves knows that he's in for a tough night when they square off on August 26.
Still, the 24-year-old believes there are some flaws in "The Kicking Machine's" game, and he won't be afraid to attack in their Grand Prix semifinal matchup.
"Superlek is a great fighter," Goncalves said. "He's a strong guy and very agile. Without a doubt, the best thing about him is his kicks.
"The weakness is that he doesn't combine punches with kicks well, and I also think his chin is another weak point that I can exploit, because no one can take my punches when I hit on the chin."
Now that he's registered his first KO in ONE Championship, Goncalves is eager to build off that momentum and take the biggest scalp of his career.
If he can do that against Superlek, then it would be tough to doubt him against either Rodtang Jitmuangnon or Savvas Michael in the ONE flyweight muay Thai world grand prix championship final.
With that in mind, the Brazilian will aim for another highlight-reel finish when he steps into the ONE circle later this month.
"I hope to win quickly by knockout," Goncalves said. "I'm getting ready to be champion and take home the belt.
"I trained a lot and that's why I'm confident. I'll show what a dangerous guy I am. I'm going to win and show everyone that it's my turn."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.