For Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke the inaugural ONE Championship event in Thailand last year was an emotional occasion. It was the first time he had competed in his homeland as a mixed martial artist, but he also suffered defeat for the first time since switching from Muay Thai to MMA.
The loss came at the hands of the best strawweight in the world, but that was of little consolation to Dejdamrong, who is determined to bounce back when he faces top Filipino contender Joshua Pacio at ONE: Warrior Kingdom this Saturday.
“When I fought with Naito, at the first event in Thailand, I was confident and had the support of the Thai people. I tried my best, but got caught in a submission on the ground. I want to fight and win back my title so that the Thai people can rejoice once again. I need to win the belt back more than anything.”
Dejdamrong is a former Lumpinee champion and a veteran of several hundred Muay Thai fights. He’s succeeded in making the transition to MMA look seamless in a way no other fighter with such a strong background in the “science of the 8 limbs” had ever previously managed.
For the 38-year-old, moving between different rule sets is all part of the challenge of being a full time professional fighter.
“I am a Muay Thai fighter (but) being a fighter it doesn’t matter to me what the ruleset is. I see MMA as a challenge.”
Dejdamrong was introduced to the sport after accepting an offer to work as a Muay Thai trainer in Singapore. He went from holding pads for the likes of Shinya Aoki and Leandro Issa at Evolve MMA to training alongside them and ultimately competing for the same promotion.
“Through the opportunity to come to Evolve MMA, I was able to learn about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA. I knew my Muay Thai was dangerous, but all the different martial arts from different countries are also dangerous in their own way. I had to learn them all to know MMA.”
He will be one of eight local fighters on the card at ONE: Warrior Kingdom. The Thais range from up-and-coming youngsters like Kritsada Kongsrichai and Pongsiri Mitsatit to seasoned veterans with big reputations in other sports like Dejdamrong and Yodsanan Sityodtong.
Dejdamrong wouldn’t even have known what MMA was when he was starting out as a fighter. But he’s happy to see young mixed martial artists in Thailand given the opportunity to compete on a global stage.
“I am very happy that I get to fight MMA in Bangkok for ONE Championship. In MMA, there are a lot of other young fighters out there fighting who haven’t had the chance to fight on this stage, (so) I am happy that ONE Championship has come into Thailand and provided motivation for young fighters who are waiting their turn.”
Dejdamrong’s defeat provided a slightly anticlimactic end to ONE Championship’s inaugural event in Thailand. The turnout was impressive, but the fans had come to see their local fighters win and the disappointment when Naito submitted the former champion was palpable.
Winning a ONE Championship fight in Bangkok is something Dejdamrong is desperate to do and he thinks a win over Pacio will be the first step on the path towards becoming a champion again.
“I want to win for the Thai people and to work towards winning the belt back in the future.”
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