When Hiroba Minowa said that a rematch with Lito Adiwang is unnecessary, Thunder Kid said: “He’s smart by playing it safe and not wanting a rematch with me. … I think he’s scared to get inside the Circle with me again.”

The two met at ONE: Inside the Matrix III in Singapore where Minowa won via split decision in what was considered a controversial victory. Still, Adiwang is confident that a rematch is inevitable.

A heated rivalry between top strawweight talents Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang and Hiroba Minowa continues to run ablaze, as both men look to climb the divisional ladder.

Minowa recently spoke to the media regarding a potential rematch with Adiwang, following their controversial first meeting last October, when the Japanese fighter took home a closely-contested split decision victory after three rounds of teetering action.

Minowa said he was not actively pursuing a rematch with Adiwang, and that he instead wanted to move past that chapter of his career. Adiwang has since then reacted to his comments.

“He’s smart by playing it safe and not wanting a rematch with me. He felt what I can bring to the table, and he experienced it firsthand. The smart move would be to avoid me,” said Adiwang.

“I think he’s scared to get inside the Circle with me again.”

When the two met at ONE: Inside the Matrix III in Singapore, Adiwang was riding a seven-fight win streak, emerging as one of the hottest new talents in ONE Championship. Minowa, on the other hand, was a former Shooto Champion making his promotional debut.

Adiwang started out fast and furious at the opening bell, storming out of the gates looking to end matters early. After lighting Minowa up on the feet, the “Thunder Kid” was able to grapple Minowa down into a deep kimura arm lock that had the Japanese fighter in big trouble.

Moments later, it appeared as though Minowa had “tapped” ever so slightly from the pressure. However, the referee was unable to recognize the tap and the bout continued. From then on, action was close as both men had their moments.

In the end, Minowa escaped with a split decision victory, taking home points on two of the three judges’ scorecards.

“I don’t think you can say ‘a win is a win.’ Not in this sport. He can’t enjoy that victory because a lot of fans don’t accept the outcome. It was a close split decision that could have gone either way, that many people thought I won. The only way to prove total victory is in a rematch,” said Adiwang.

“In this sport, performances matter. That night, he got the victory, although it was a controversial one. He will always be haunted by the criticism that comes with it.”

Minowa is set to return to the Circle against former ONE Strawweight World Champion and current #5-ranked strawweight mixed martial arts contender Alex “Little Rock” Silva of Brazil. The two men square off at ONE: Fists of Fury III, a previously recorded event from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore scheduled for air on Friday, 19 March.

Minowa has made his intent clear. He wants to move on from Adiwang and face the top fighters at strawweight. Adiwang, however, believes they will definitely meet again to settle the score once and for all.

“Focus on higher-ranked fighters, because if you’re ever in the Circle with me again, you’re getting derailed,” said Adiwang.

“I’m sure me and him will meet each other again, as long as we both keep winning. That rematch is inevitable.”