Another hour-long Q&A session in front of eager fans was on the menu for Chatri Sityodtong yesterday. The Jonathan Di Bella and Joseph Lasiri controversy was just one of the talking points, and many other topics got addressed, such as referee Paopom's passing, this weekend's mega card at Lumpinee stadium, and future events in Asia, the United States, and the Arab world.
The ONE Championship CEO tried to calm the situation, expressing his respect for both athletes, but also emphasized that he trusts his competition team and matchmakers to handle any issues that might arise.
To give the full picture, we included both the translation of what Chatri said in Thai to his Thai fans and his words in English addressed to the Western media.
"Jonathan Di Bella, I respect him greatly… Last week, the Thai journalist might not understand me because I might not have said it clearly. Jonathan Di Bella is the champion, but he has not defended his title. My team tried and offered him many fights, but he did not take them. I don't understand why he has not defended. But he is the real kickboxing world champion and he has not lost in kickboxing. I want to see him defend. A Thai journalist asked me if he does not defend his title, if I want to strip him. I told this journalist that in 11-year ONE's history we have never stripped anyone. Never. But The Thai… the translator might have translated wrong. I don’t know how long but if he does not defend for a long time, there is a chance we might strip him. But it is not time yet. People might not understand. I talked with Joseph Lasiri on Instagram and he was angry with me. He asked why I said that Joseph does not want to fight. He said he is really injured but after he recovers he wants to fight and he wants to fight anyone."
"I want to say to Jonathan Di Bella and Lasiri that the Thai media… Uhm… things are taken out of context and mistranslated or or the American… or rather some of the Western media might have twisted my words or taken out of context. I have the utmost respect for Jonathan Di Bella and for Joseph Lasiri. Now I can only go by what my team tells me. My team has told me [that] they have given multiple offers to both athletes. And for whatever reason, they have not defended. Now if you take a champion like Jonathan Haggerty or you take you know a guy like Liam Harrison, they are always asking for fights. Always! Ok. So when a champion truly wants to fight, they are gonna be defending as much as they want. We want at ONE Championship for our champions to defend their titles as many times as they want and make as much money as they can. So It is odd to me that you have two champions who have not defended for long time despite my team… I have not spoken to either of them about fights, okay. But I have a competition team that I truly trust and work with for a long time. They have told me… they have given many fight offers, but they have been turned down for one reason or another. Anyway, the Thai media or maybe it was the Western media that twisted my words, but I have a lot of respect for Jonathan Di Bella and I have a lot of respect for Joseph Lasiri."