Earlier this month, Rodtang Jitmuangnon launched himself to American combat followers. As a lot as he loved his debut within the United States, he’s much more enthusiastic for his return.
“I love the lifestyle in America,” says Jitmuangnon—who is named Rodtang—talking via a translator. “People can do anything and be themselves. It smells like freedom.”
Rodtang defeated Edgar Tabares by knockout three weeks in the past at ONE Fight Night 10. With the win, he retained the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai championship, marking his fifth straight title protection. The occasion served as ONE’s first within the United States, and, regardless of the American delicacies (“I prefer Thai food,” says Rodtang), Rodtang discovered himself at dwelling in a rustic very distant from his roots in Thailand’s Pa Phayom district.
“Once I stepped in the cage, it brought me back to my hometown,” says Rodtang. “I didn’t expect to hear the crowd cheering for me. I was so proud. I felt like I was back in Thailand.
“That opportunity meant the world to me. It was my chance to show Muay Thai in America. I was able to share it, and I took a lot of pride in that. I also put that pressure on my shoulders. I owe so much to this sport. It is my love, it is my passion. It gave me a new life.”
After ending Tabares within the second spherical with a vicious elbow, Rodtang obtained a $100,000 efficiency bonus for his methodical victory. That sort of cash is fully completely different from the cash he earned when he started competing within the sport.
“I started when I was eight,” says Rodtang, 25. “My first time competing, I earned the equivalent of $10 American dollars. That was a lot of money. My family was quite poor, and it was pure excitement to bring that money home. Muay Thai is pure and beautiful. This sport gave me opportunity. It changed my life. I owe so much to this sport.”
Following the win at ONE Fight Night 10, Rodtang known as ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai champion Jonathan Haggerty. They share a historical past; Rodtang has already defeated Haggerty on two separate events—as soon as to win the flyweight title, then once more in a title protection.
Another win in opposition to Haggerty would make Rodtang a two-division champion in ONE. That represents solely the start of his ambition in ONE, which features a transition to MMA.
“I want to be the legend of ONE Championship,” says Rodtang. “I want different opponents and different weight classes to prove I am legendary.”
“I want to try everything. I want to compete in MMA. The biggest challenge is every aspect that is not standing and striking. The techniques, defending, and attacking, I am relearning all those. That is the most difficult part of transitioning into MMA.”
ONE’s card in Colorado was headlined by the good Demetrious Johnson, who defeated Adriano Moraes in a flyweight title bout. Johnson and Rodtang competed in a mixed-rules bout final yr, which consisted of three-minute rounds alternating between Muay Thai and MMA. The bout ended when Johnson utilized a rear bare choke within the second spherical. That defeat left a bitter style in Rodtang’s mouth, and he’s getting ready to ship a unique lead to a rematch fought beneath MMA guidelines.
“I have to train harder, and there is still a lot to learn, but that is my dream,” says Rodtang. “I want to compete in MMA and I want that rematch against Demetrious.”
The transfer to MMA would require persistence. Fortunately for Rodtang, that’s one in all his strongest traits. Earlier this yr, he was ordained a Buddhist monk, shaving his head and becoming a member of a monastery whereas totally committing to the method. He then married Aida Looksaikongdin, a fellow fighter, in a standard Islamic ceremony and transformed to Islam.
“Buddhism has taught me how to become patient in life,” says Rodtang. “The whole process, it taught me to become perfectly calm. It’s stopped me from being short-tempered. It gives me peace.”
Rodtang is a close to certainty to be on the cardboard every time ONE returns to the U.S. His star is constructing, and he has the potential to be ONE’s first breakout star in America.
“I hope to compete again soon in the U.S.,” says Rodtang. “Showing Muay Thai to America is an honor.”
Justin Barrasso will be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.