Kiwi Muay Thai fighter Alexi Serepisos set to make ONE Championship debut

Serepisos is 40-13 as a pro.
Serepisos is 40-13 as a pro. Photo credit: Supplied

For a fresh-faced 24-year-old, Kiwi Muay Thai master Alexi Serepisos has been about the block.

In addition to multiple local titles, including the King in the Ring, the Wellingtonian has taken his silky striking skills across the globe, competing as far afield as China and Los Angeles, living the nomadic lifestyle typical of many fighters from this corner of the globe.

Two world titles and a mountain of air points later, Serepisos has been handed his biggest opportunity yet – a six-fight deal with ONE Championship's Super Series.

The Super Series is an innovation the burgeoning Asian promotion introduced with great success in 2018, which showcases other martial arts disciplines - most prominently kickboxing and Muay Thai – alongside its MMA bouts.

It's already secured some of the biggest names across both disciplines, most notably the likes of kickboxing superstars Nieky Holzken, Giorgio Petrosyan, and some of Thailand's finest Muay Thai practitioners.

Serepisos knew instantly it was the ideal place to ply his trade.

"I'm quite a methodical person in the way that I do things," he told Newshub. "I'm very pedantic about things and I like to set goals and pick them off and achieve them.

"When ONE announced their Super Series it immediately went to the top of my list.

"They have undoubtedly the top stand-up league in the world…they're doing big things for the sport."

And the Flyweight will be straight into the furnace when he makes his promotional debut at ONE: Eternal Glory in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on January 19 against Thailand's Mongkolpetch.

Training out of renowned Bangkok gym Petchyindee Academy, the 23-year-old has already been crowned a Lumpinee Champion – the holy grail of Muay Thai - in a pro tenure which spans over 110 bouts.

"He fights on the elite Thai circuit, meaning he's one of the best in the world. He's won the Toyota Marathon three times which is huge.

"It's quite exciting. It's always challenging fighting Thais, let alone the top level Thais as they're just very good at what they do."

Not that Serepisos is intimidated in the slightest by his opponent's glittering CV. "Phet" is no stranger to elite competition, holding his own with the legendary Lerdsila in Lion Fights – the world's largest non-Thailand Muay Thai organisation –early in 2018.

"The thing that I have going for me is in spite of [his record] I don’t give a rat's arse. I'm still going to go in there try to beat him up. He may kick better than me but I don’t care, I'm still going to kick him.

"It's about putting it all together on the night. If I can do that then I can beat anyone in the world, no problem."

Competing on such a stage is all the more impressive when you consider Serepisos isn’t afforded the luxury of committing himself fulltime to the sport.

While he trains by night, by day he buttons up a collared shirt and heads to the Hamilton police station, where he works as a business improvement analyst. Add two young sons to that mix and it becomes an even more impressive juggling act.

Serepisos in action against Lurdsila in early 2018.
Serepisos in action against Lurdsila in early 2018. Photo credit: Getty

"Working a fulltime job as well as fighting makes life a little bit difficult because the people that I fight don’t do that – they're fighting as their fulltime job.

"I didn't start training at all until my now wife was pregnant with my first son, so they've been with me the whole way through.

"Obviously it has its challenges. My life is hectic – I'm lucky if I get five hours sleep a night. But as a result of how hard I've had to work for everything in life, it makes fighting seem that little bit easier. People tell me I show a lot of heart in my fights but the reality is that in my life I go through a lot more to get to that fight, than that fight is going to put me through."

But they're challenges Serepisos had always anticipated as he showed up for his first day of training at Jai Thai boxing adamant that he'd make a career of fighting – just not necessarily in Muay Thai. 

"Interestingly enough, I turned up to the gym with the intention of progressing on to MMA because I was a big fan of it.

"I found that the gym had discontinued their MMA programme, so I thought I'd give it a go anyway and did what I thought was kickboxing, seeing as how I was there already. I just never stopped going.

He now trains out of a modest shed in his home town of Whatawhata – a small township nestled in the heart of the Waikato – an unlikely stronghold that's also home to Glory Kickboxing fighter Quade Taranaki and King in the Ring champion Carlos Hicks.

He's now taking it upon his shoulders to blaze a trail for his combat compatriots and establish an avenue through to long-term job security – help them avoid going the way of many a Muay Thai fighter who's almost forced to transition into MMA purely for financial reasons.

"I'm hoping that with the exposure I can bring to New Zealand by putting good performances I can show that we really have talent here that's worth investing in. Hopefully that can help build the scene here… we have some really good fighters here that just don’t get the recognition they deserve.

Serepisos has also garnered plenty of motivation from the UFC exploits of his good mates Dan Hooker and Israel Adesanya, who he's fought alongside on numerous local amateur events.

"We all know each other because – New Zealand being New Zealand, with our mate culture as well as being such a small place, and even smaller fight community.

"Having seen everyone come up together, it's quite inspiring to see that the people that stuck with it and put in the effort have gone from fighting on all the amateur cards to headlining some of the biggest shows in the world, if not the biggest shows in the world."

Now he's ready to ride that same wave of international combat success in Aotearoa and do justice to all of the sacrifice both he and his family have made to help him reach this point.

And as you'd expect from an athlete as cerebral as Serepisos, his next goal with his new employer is as measured as it is realistic.

"I just want to win fights and build recognition, build a name for myself. Long term I'd love to win a title, but there's more to it than just having a belt. I could go win the belt and lose it the next fight and then all I am forever is just a former champion.

"I want to be remembered as someone who's really had a legacy in the sport and given it a go. If I'm going to do something I may as well give it a good crack, and that's my attitude with everything, but in particular with fighting."

Newshub.

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