After more than 300 fights, most fighters would be happy to call it a day once they got past the age of 30, but former Lumpinee champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichok has decided to swap the Muay Thai ring for the ONE FC cage with impressive results.
Dejdamrong holds a 2-0 record after a pair of professional fights and is taking on hometown hero Saiful Merican at ONE FC: Roar of Tigers in Kuala Lumpur on Friday night (local time). He says that discovering MMA has given him a new lease of life.
“I fought Muay Thai for around 20 years and after I finished fighting I wanted to train students, but I am so happy I discovered MMA because it is a new sport and a new challenge for me and I feel very motivated to train and fight.”
Dejdamrong works full time as a Muay Thai trainer at Evolve MMA, which has an army of top Thai fighters on the payroll, including Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn, Attachai Fairtex, Orono Wor Petchpun, and Yodsanan Sityodtong, but he is the first to really forge a successful career as a mixed martial artist.
According to Dejdamrong there is plenty of talent among the trainers, but most of them are too busy teaching to compete in the cage.
“Some of the most famous fighters from Thailand are at Evolve MMA and many of them were very big names when they were fighting, but it is difficult for them to train themselves because they are very popular with the students and are busy teaching classes and giving private lessons,” he said.
However, he has been able to find time in his schedule to get in three fights after taking an interest in a training session at Evolve MMA.
“I saw the Evolve MMA Fight Team training together and I wanted to try and after that I started training every day. I am lucky that Evolve MMA support me in my career so I don’t have to teach too much when I have a fight coming up and I can focus on preparation,” he said.
After taking out a boxer and a fellow Muay Thai champion in his first two MMA fights, he faces a much more experienced and well rounded opponent at ONE FC: Roar of Tigers. Saiful has a 3-1 pro record and is coming off three consecutive decision wins, which have all come courtesy of a grinding style.
Despite coming from a Muay Thai background, Saiful has proven himself adept at taking opponents down, keeping them down, and pacing himself so that he is able to do this for the duration of a 15-minute fight.
It’s an approach that has proven extremely effective and Dejdamrong believes the Malaysian will be the best opponent he has faced so far.
“My coaches told me he will try to take me down and I am prepared for that. I have had over 300 Muay Thai fights, so I prefer it if a fight is standing, but I think it is normal for other fighters to want to take me down and it is something I must be ready for,” he said.
It will be Dejdamrong’s third ONE FC fight in the space of six months, which might seem like a hectic schedule, but competing regularly is something he is very accustomed to.
“I think the most times I have fought in one year is probably 50 when I was very young and then when I became successful I would fight in one of the big stadiums in Bangkok every single month, so fighting regularly is no problem for me.”
However, regardless of his fighting experience, he still feels he is a beginner in MMA and cautions against over-expectation.
“I have only been training in MMA for around a year and there is still a lot for me to learn. I am happy my career is going well and I have won two fights, but I still need to improve a lot in many areas.”
Despite winning two fights so far, Dejdamrong has barely spent seven minutes inside the ONE FC cage, registering two first-round finishes. His most recent came by way of submission, but he is prepared to fight the full three rounds this Friday.
“If I can win all my fights in the first round I will be very happy. In Muay Thai, I was known as an aggressive fighter and my style will always be the same, but I know Saiful has more MMA fights than me and more experience than me, so it won’t be easy to finish him, but I will try!”
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