A great deal of incredible female fighters competed in 2023, and it was a competitive category for the annual awards. But, by defeating multiple world champions and showing she was a cut above the rest, Arina Kobayashi is the clear winner for the Combat Press 2023 Female Fighter of the Year in kickboxing.
Female Fighter of the Year – Arina Kobayashi
Japan’s Kobayashi has a background in karate, collecting multiple national titles as a karate striker throughout her career. The young athlete transitioned to professional kickboxing in 2020 and struggled for some time as she was growing into her skills. After struggling with losses to RISE atomweight champion Koyuki Miyazaki, Kobayashi made changes to her training regimen and weight division.
Upon changing weight classes, the 23-year-old striker has been able to put together five consecutive victories since 2022. Along the way, Kobayashi was able to defeat two fellow national karate champions Koto Hiraoka and Wakana Miyazaki.
2023 began Kobayashi’s toughest tests. First, she would face the reigning SHOOT BOXING atomweight world champion, Misaki Morita. With impressive speed and power, Kobayashi defeated the champion Misaki with a dominant victory. Next, she faced “Ruthless” Mai Hanada and earned another dominant win.
Lastly, in 2023, the Japanese athlete was matched against the reigning RISE mini flyweight kickboxing world champion Erika Gibo. Gibo had been on a winning streak since picking up the divisional crown.
Kobayashi battered the world titleholder, showing dominant speed, power, footwork, and skill in every area of the fight. She stopped the champ by way of second-round knockout, after dominating the first round.
For the world title, in the biggest fight of her career, she put on the best performance of her life. The 23-year-old striker showed that her kickboxing skills were clearly above the rest of those in her division. For her dominant wins, and defeating two world champions, Arina Kobayashi is Combat Press’s Female Fighter of the Year for 2023.
Other candidates for the 2023 fight of the year include Tiffany van Soest for retiring as a champion and with a knockout, Antonia Prifti for defeating Kana Morimoto, Koyuki Miyazaki with three victories, and Miyuu Sugawara for earning a K-1 title and four calendar wins.
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