Thailand can be proud of its thriving martial arts heroes. The Southeast Asian country, which is the birthplace of Muay Thai, has famously produced some of the finest athletes in combat sports. But in recent years, a plethora of competitors have made the transition to ONE Championship and have experienced great success inside the cage.
On Saturday, 9 December, the organization will return to Bangkok’s Impact Arena to hold its third show in the country, ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD, and will stage four more events in 2018. All of that can be accredited to Thailand’s skillful warriors and rabid fanbase.
Before ONE ascends upon Bangkok, however, check out these six heroes who are building a name for themselves, and making Thailand proud on the global stage.
Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke
Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke has consistently brought honor to Thailand. The Trang native originally participated in Muay Thai as a way to escape poverty, and he grew up to become one of the most celebrated athletes in the sports history.
He reached the pinnacle of Muay Thai when he won the Lumpinee World Championship three times in two separate weight classes, racking up an unbelievable record of 282-65-3 in the process.
In 2014, he sought a new challenge. Amnuaysirichoke made the transition from the ring to the cage. He joined ONE Championship, and won five consecutive matches to become the inaugural ONE Strawweight World Champion. With the victory, he became Thailand’s first ONE titleholder, and a two-sport world champion.
Though “Kru Rong” may not wear the belt anymore, he is hungry for another title opportunity. Amnuaysirichoke draws Japan’s Riku Shibuya in his upcoming Bangkok encounter.
Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai is undoubtedly one of Thailand’s most colorful sports personalities. The 29-year-old has become a fan favorite with his thrilling martial arts style and entertaining walkouts, which usually features him referencing pop culture rooted with deep meaning.
A true martial artist who splits his time between Bangkok Fight Lab and Tiger Muay Thai & MMA, Wiratchai has created his own striking style called the “OneShin Striking System” that is based on attacking opponents who leave themselves vulnerable. It has served him well, ultimately leading him to a remarkable 9-1 record and a co-main event slot opposite Russia’s Rasul Yakhyaev on 9 December.
If successful, Wiratchai will get a title opportunity for the ONE Lightweight World Championship, and a chance to become just the second Thai-born world champion in the cage.
He may be one of the youngest on this list, but Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit is sneaking his way into the strawweight world title conversation.
The 21-year-old farm boy is a Northern Thailand Muay Thai champion who has been rounding out his skills on a daily basis at Team Quest Thailand in his native Chiang Mai. Thus far, he has experienced a marvelous start to his professional career inside the cage.
Since his debut in June 2014, Mitsatit has compiled a perfect record of 9-0, three of which took place in ONE. In fact, his most recent victory was over Jeremy Miado at ONE: HERO’S DREAM in the neighboring country of Myanmar.
As ONE prepares for four shows in the country’s capital next year, fans can expect to see a lot more of “The Smiling Assassin” on future Bangkok cards.
Similar to the aforementioned Amnuaysirichoke, Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai rose up from poverty through Muay Thai to become a legendary champion.
The Northern Thailand prodigy, who took up the sport to help support his family, racked up 12 major Muay Thai titles, including a WBC Diamond Super Lightweight Title, a Rajadamnern World Championship, and four Lumpinee World Championships in multiple weight divisions. He also earned a awe-inspiring record of 162-62-1 in Muay Thai competition.
Earlier this year, he sought out a new challenge — the ONE Championship cage. So far, he has proven to be a natural, as he brought his spectacular striking skills with him.
In his lone two bouts, Petpayathai has knocked out both Kelvin Ong and Mahmoud Mohamed well inside the opening rounds. The 30-year-old will go for his third victory of the year against the Philippines’ Jimmy “The Silencer” Yabo at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD.
Rika “Tindyoll” Ishige is undoubtedly one of the breakout martial arts stars of 2017. Since she was young, Ishige has spent years studying various disciplines before making her professional debut earlier this year.
“Tinydoll,” who has won fans over with her charm, grace, and friendly demeanor, displayed her blossoming martial arts skills in her first two contests. She first earned a TKO over Malaysia’s Audreylaura Boniface, and then submitted Indonesia’s Nita Dea via rear-naked choke.
Despite a setback against the Philippines’ Jomary Torres back in August, the 28-year-old Ishige feels refreshed ,and is looking to bounce back in front of her compatriots on Saturday evening. She meets another Filipina warrior in Rome Trinidad.
Unlike some of the other male athletes on this list, Kritsada “Dream Man” Kongsrichai was cut from a different cloth.
While the rest came from striking backgrounds, most prominently Muay Thai, the 26-year-old has an extensive background as a wrestler. He is a 13-time Thai Wrestling Champion who proudly owns an impressive 180-20 record in wrestling competition.
Kongsrichai, who trains out of Hunter Team, is quite arguably Thailand’s best wrestling talent to make the transition from the mats to the cage. And ever since debuting in 2014, he has strategically added submissions and striking to his game.
He has a bright future in the promotion, and will take one more step towards accomplishing his dreams of a world championship when he tangles with Filipino wushu champion Rabin Catalan in Bangkok.