Sam-A Gaiyanghadao had a memorable first experience in ONE Championship last weekend.
On Friday, 26 January, at ONE: GLOBAL SUPERHEROES, the Muay Thai living legend entered the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, and defeated former WBC Muay Thai Super Bantamweight World Champion Joseph “Hurricane” Lasiri in the promotion’s first-ever Muay Thai bout.
The bout took place inside the ONE cage under traditional Muay Thai rules, except both Gaiyanghadao and Lasiri donned open-fingered gloves as opposed to standard boxing gloves.
Gaiyanghadao, a multiple-time Lumpinee Stadium Champion who owns a phenomenal Muay Thai record of 364-46-9, was pleasantly surprised at the magnitude of the contest, and the power he felt with the smaller, more compact gloves.
“I was very excited for my ONE Championship bout in Manila,” the 34-year-old says.
“It was my first time competing with 4oz gloves, and my first time competing in a cage, so it was an exciting new experience for me. I was really pumped when I walked out and saw how big the arena was. I had never competed in an arena that big before.”
Although it was a new experience, Gaiyanghadao appeared as dominant as ever.
He blasted Lasiri with powerful punches, fierce kicks, and sharp elbows, accentuated by a monstrous left hand that dropped the Italian on numerous occasions. Also, the Singapore-based Thai punished his opponent’s body and legs with devastating kicks.
Lasiri tried his best to ride out the storm, but Gaiyanghadao was completely on point. And, in the second round, the Thai legend authored an impressive technical knockout to cap off a masterful striking performance.
“I felt that my punches had more power and were sharper wearing 4oz gloves,” the legend admits.
Prior to his ONE debut, Gaiyanghadao had built a solid following in his native Thailand. The 20-year veteran is one of the most decorated Muay Thai athletes in history, and having captured multiple national and world titles.
He has competed against some of the biggest names in the sport, including Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, Pornsanae Sitmonchai, Penek Sitnumnoi, Petchboonchu FA Group, and Singtongnoi Por Telakun, among others.
Even with all of those dazzling achievements, Gaiyanghadao knew his bout with Lasiri was going to be the biggest competition of his life, in terms of viewership and reach.
ONE currently broadcasts in over 136 countries worldwide, with a potential viewership of 1.7-billion. That means all those eyeballs could be watching the first-ever Muay Thai bout in ONE, and that alone inspired the legend.
“I was so excited for this match that I could not really sleep the night before,” Gaiyanghadao admits.
“I am thankful that I had the opportunity to compete in front of such a large audience watching all over the world, and I am thankful that I was able to show the effectiveness of Muay Thai to fans all over the world.”
Given his tremendous performance, however, fans cannot help but wonder if Gaiyanghadao had ever considered transitioning from Muay Thai to compete in the cage full-time.
Gaiyanghadao, who currently trains and teaches alongside other ONE athletes at Evolve MMA in Singapore, says that although he has entertained the idea of crossing over, he is not quite ready for it just yet.
Instead, he would like to focus on bringing more Muay Thai bouts to the ONE cage.
“My focus is on Muay Thai at the moment,” he says.
“I had such a good time in this Muay Thai bout, and I look forward to many more with ONE Championship.”