ONE Championship is about to rock Thailand this weekend.
This Saturday, 24 March, the promotion returns with a historic spectacle, ONE: IRON WILL, which takes place at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.
A unprecedented main event will headline the action, as ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes defends his title against ONE Featherweight and Lightweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen.
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.
Perhaps the most colorful character in the lightweight division, Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai has become a fan favorite in Asia. He regularly entertains with his thrilling combat style and elaborate entrances, which usually have a deeper meaning than most think.
Although he had his six-bout win streak snapped last December, he looks to restart his campaign back to the ONE Lightweight World Championship this weekend. He meets promotional debutant Rahul “The Kerala Krusher” Raju, and plans to entertain the home crowd again with a spectacular finish.
There may not be another martial artist in the world who has captured the hearts of millions as fast as Rika “Tindyoll” Ishige.
Ishige, the daughter of a judo practitioner, first got involved in the martial arts to fend off bullies at school. The Thai starlet grew to love combat sports and the training lifestyle, and learned multiple disciplines under the guidance of her boyfriend, the aforementioned Wiratchai,
“Tinydoll” went on to have an unforgettable rookie year in 2017. She displayed an ever-improving array of grappling and striking skills, en route to claiming three stoppage victories inside the ONE cage.
This weekend, the 28-year-old Thai starlet will look to claim her fourth when she welcomes Filipina debutante Angelie “D Explorer” Sabanal to the promotion in a women’s atomweight thriller.
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 sport’s history.
He reached the pinnacle of Muay Thai when he won the Lumpinee Stadium world championship three times in two separate weight classes, and racked 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 also became Thailand’s first-ever ONE World Champion.
The Thai hero may not be wearing the belt anymore, but he is eager to reclaim his belt for Thailand. He will face Filipino striker Jeremy “The Jaguar” Miado in his upcoming Bangkok encounter.
Kritsada “Dream Man” Kongsrichai
While most of the athletes on this list have been heavily involved in Muay Thai, Kritsada “Dream Man” Kongsrichai made a name for himself on the wrestling mats. He is a 13-time Thai national wrestling champion, who proudly owns an magnificent 180-20 record in wrestling competition.
Kongsrichai has always been driven by a challenge, and he is quite arguably Thailand’s best wrestling talent to make the transition from the mats to the cage. He made his professional debut in 2014, has amassed a 6-3 professional record, and is riding a two-bout win streak.
The 26-year-old has added dynamic striking and submission elements to his overall game, thanks to his longtime trainers at Hunter Team, and he looks to continue displaying his improvement this Saturday. He draws Filipino Muay Thai world champion Robin Catalan at ONE: IRON WILL.
At only 21 years of age, Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit is the youngest athlete on this list. Despite his young age, he is brilliantly sneaking his way into the strawweight world title picture.
The farm boy is a Northern Thailand Muay Thai champion who has spent the majority of his career training out of Team Quest Thailand in his native Chiang Mai. Thus far, he has experienced marvelous results 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 Miado at ONE: HERO’S DREAM in the neighboring country of Myanmar.
Nowadays, “The Smiling Assassin” is training out of Tiger Muay Thai & MMA. He expects to return to the cage very soon, and make his home nation proud once again.
Similar to Amnuaysirichoke, Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai rose up from poverty through Muay Thai to become a legendary world 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.
In 2017, he sought out a new challenge — the ONE cage. So far, he has proven to be a natural, as he knocked out Kelvin Ong, Mahmoud Mohamed, and Jimmy “The Silencer” Yabo, all inside the opening round. All of that made the 31-year-old ONE Championship’s Breakthrough Star of 2017.