Narantungalag Jadambaa recently received the Order of Merit from the President of Mongolia in recognition of his achievements as a kickboxer and mixed martial artists. It was a prestigious achievement for the 40-year-old, who says it will only motivate him to train even harder.
Despite his advancing years, Jadambaa shows no signs of slowing down, and after submitting Kotetsu Boku in his most recent fight, the Mongolian will be facing top featherweight contender Eric Kelly at ONE: Dynasty of Champions in Hefei this Saturday.
It will be his second fight since receiving the presidential award and Jadambaa feels even more determined to defend his country’s honor.
“I was very proud of myself. And I was so proud of my crew and trainer. I see it as a big responsibility and after receiving the award I must spend more time on my training.”
From warlords to mixed martial artists, Mongolia is known for producing fierce fighters and Jadambaa is proud to be part of this ancient tradition.
“Mongolia has a history of great warriors. It means a lot to me that I am representing those warriors in the present time and having success, so I am very proud of myself.”
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Jadambaa was born in Bugat in northern Mongolia. This rural upbringing helped foster a competitive streak, which would ultimately inspire him to win him titles with both Legend FC and ONE Championship.
“When I was child, I grew up in the countryside, and we would wrestle all day long and race horses. I think there is no one in Mongolia who cannot wrestle in any way.”
Few fighters continue to compete beyond the age of 40, particularly at the elite level of the sport. But Jadambaa sees his advancing years as an advantage.
“MMA is a mixed fighting sport which requires a lot of skills and experience. Getting experience takes time and that’s why being aged 40 is an advantage for me. There is a saying in Mongolian language that from age of 40 you become real man.”
Jadambaa spent several years living and training in Japan and was thrown in at the deep end from the start of his competitive career. On his pro MMA debut, he faced Kid Yamamoto while his first ever K-1 fight was against Albert Kraus, a baptism of fire in both combat sports.
It was a steep learning curve, but Jadambaa says he benefitted from both experiences and is a better fighter because of them. In fact, he believes he is improving with every fight.
The match-up with Kelly is set for the Hefei Olympic Sport Centre on Saturday and will be Jadambaa’s third fight in the last eight months. In the past, he’s frequently had to wait a year or more between bouts and the veteran is happy to be fighting more frequently now.
“I am very excited about this fight. Fighting is my hobby, it is my favorite thing to do, but in the past, I always waited quite a long time to get another fight after last one. This coming fight is not so long after my last one. It makes me feel good.”
This will be Jadambaa’s second time fighting in mainland China. He was submitted by Marat Gafurov in Beijing last November, a defeat which cost him his ONE Championship lightweight belt. The Mongolian wants it back and the fight with Kelly has been described as a potential title eliminator.
Jadambaa should have the fans at the Hefei Olympic Centre on his side and says that fights in China are always special to him.
“I am taking it very seriously, because I will be fighting in neighboring country. There are Inner Mongolia, Shinjaan Uighar, and a lot other tribes which share the same ancestors as China. That’s why I see this fight as very special event.”
Jadambaa posed Gafurov plenty of problems before succumbing to that fourth-round submission. It was a close and competitive fight and Jadambaa is desperate to secure a second shot at the undefeated Ruissian.
“I want it so bad. But I want it to be for championship belt.”
Gafurov successfully defended his title last month and isn’t likely to be back in action for several months. That means the belt won’t be changing hands anytime soon, but a win this weekend could be enough to ensure Jadambaa gets another shot at the champion before the end of the year.
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