It’s over! It actually happened. A big ass (pun intended) MMA event in Bangkok, Thailand. I don’t want to take anything away from the Full Metal Dojo (FMD) MMA events in Thailand but ONE Championship is a bit of a different caliber.
Headed by Thai born entrepreneur and martial arts addict Chatri Sityodtong, whose own life story seems destined to become a major motion picture down the road, ONE Championship is somehow a dream come true martial arts fairy tale. Not too long ago ONE was just a plan, a concept, and now it is the second biggest MMA promotion on the planet, fills stadiums and sees amazing fighters, such as female superstar Angela Lee, entertaining huge crowds.
Now, for the first time ever, ONE came to Thailand. The Thai Sports & Tourism Authority allowed the event to take place and oh lord, place it took. ONE doesn’t do anything small or in quiet. It goes all out, into the biggest arena Thailand has to offer, Impact Arena, and obviously fills it. It didn’t only go all in with it’s fights but also with the entertainment around the event by bringing in two of the biggest Thai bands alive. Big Ass and Bodyslam.
The fights itself also were entertaining of course while they featured a few very talented household names in the world of MMA. We saw some young up and coming fighters finishing big and we saw some veterans retaining their status and belts.
The most anticipated fight of the night however was, of course, the main event between Thai born and Singapore based World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, better known as Kru Rong, and Yoshitaka Naito from Japan. Both fighters have been undefeated until this very fight. One streak had to end.
The card was dubbed “Kingdom of Fighters” and while the main event did not go as planned from a Thai perspective you could see that Kru Rong certainly is a fighter. From the very first round everything seemed to play into the hands of the Japanese contender. With a typical Thai approach to fights Dejdamrong tried to use his superb muay thai skills to keep Naito at a distance while also striking once in a while. The Japanese fighter however always tried to take down Dejdamrong as soon as possible in order to make use of his own strengths such as his BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). Round 1 was still somewhat open with the Japanese fighter actually going down for a quick moment after a nice attack by Dejdamrong. He however allowed his opponent to stand back (pretty cocky tbh) and from then it all went downhill. The second and third round saw the Naito on top. Literally. He always took the Thai hope down and tried to find a way to hook in the submission hold. Dejdamrong fought bravely and survived both rounds barely. Saved by the bell so to speak. In round 4 however he couldn’t last until the saving bell anymore and had to submit to a rear naked choke by Naito.
Overall the fight wasn’t bad, it just had the ‘wrong’ ending – not a happy one, for all the Thais in the audience. Naito was the better man that night and one could argue that the pressure of fighting at home for the first time ever was a bit too much for Dejdamrong. Let’ see if he’ll get a rematch at some point and if he can improve on his take-down defense.
According to ONE itself the event was a huge success, received lots of mainstream coverage and probably opened doors to more events like this. The mekka of Muay Thai slowly makes a move into MMA. That is certainly a development worth following.
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