It has taken Savvas “The Baby Face Killer” Michael months of physical and emotional challenges to overcome the devastating injury he suffered last year, but the ONE Super Series Muay Thai star is finally ready to return at ONE: WARRIOR’S CODE.
The Thailand-based Cypriot will face off against Taiki “Silent Sniper” Naito in Jakarta, Indonesia on Friday, 7 February, and he believes he is in a much better place after his challenging experience.
It was only August that he dislocated his elbow in the second round of his bout against Lerdsila Phuket Top Team at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD, but he is hungry to showcase his skills again on the global stage.
“This was all lessons for me, it helped to wake me up to a lot of things,” explains Michael.
“Beforehand, my mentality was just chasing the belt, but now I just want to be happy that I’m in the arena, and show my skills.”
Michael’s freak injury happened in his adopted home of Bangkok when he was swept to the canvas by the Thai legend and landed awkwardly.
“The Baby Face Killer” knew instantly that something serious had happened, and when he found out the extent of the damage, he went to a dark place. However, once he cleared his head, he re-evaluated his behavior and started to move in the right direction.
“Once I landed, the pain was so much, but I just felt heartbroken to be honest because right away I knew it was something serious,” he recalls.
“Losing the fight like that wasn’t the big thing, it was the whole journey I had to recover from. I took it kinda tough in the beginning. For the first two weeks, you couldn’t even talk to me. I was really upset and angry.
“But then after two weeks I started to look back at it, and I started to pick up the lessons. I did a lot of things I shouldn’t have done, so looking back now, I’m not happy it happened, but it has made me stronger.”
- Petchmorakot Vs. Yusupov World Title Battle Set For Jakarta
- Jamal Yusupov Hopes To Topple Another Legend In Jakarta
- Reinier De Ridder Predicts Submission Of Leandro Ataides
Michael returned home to his native Cyprus to be around his family and friends, and take a break from Muay Thai. There, he began his intense rehabilitation regime, which included up to two physiotherapy sessions a day.
A change in mentality made his recovery possible, alongside the determination he has honed in martial arts, and the support of those close to him.
“I was so sad at first and thinking only negative thoughts, but then I told myself that was not going to achieve anything. I needed to be positive,” he explains.
“I needed to be away from the sport for a little bit and get back to my comfort zone with my family and friends, and the doctors that have known me since I was a kid… I was going to physiotherapy every day, sometimes twice a day, not only to heal it, but to try and make it move again.
“My hand wouldn’t extend for nearly a month and a half so it was starting to worry me, but I stuck with it and it started to recover. It was a tough recovery but kinda quick because of the good team I had back home.”
While he was on the road to recovery, Michael’s break from his hectic training and competition schedule gave him the time to re-evaluate some things in his professional and personal life, too.
His love for “the art of eight limbs” only grew stronger, yet he knew that he had to make some changes when he returned to Bangkok so he could recapture his best form.
“That little break helped me a lot. I did some partying at home, but I realized it was not me, and not what made me happy. It made me appreciate my life in Thailand more because I missed it,” says the 20-year-old.
“But my body was really tired and I wasn’t listening to it. In Thailand, it is train, fight, train, fight. I even called my mum before the fight and said that I didn’t know how I was going to keep up with [the schedule] I had planned.
“If I ever feel like that again, I’m just going to tell my manager I need a break, take one or two weeks off, go home and recharge my batteries.
“I also saw the real people around me. Some people only love you when you’re winning, but my mum, the guys at the gym, my physiotherapists, and my two best friends, they were beside me constantly. Now I’m back, I’m keeping my circle smaller and I think it’s healthier for me.”
“The Baby Face Killer” is back, refreshed, and more motivated than ever to put his heart and soul into his passion.
He has a tough assignment against Naito, the Shoot Boxing Super Bantamweight Champion, at the Istora Senayan, but that is exactly what he wants.
“I‘m happy that I’m fighting someone who is going well in ONE, who is winning. I want to be back in the deep end so this is good for me,” Michael adds.
“I think he’s good, but I haven’t seen anything too scary on him. We’re working on a game plan to mix it up. I’m going to try and be more quick, not Thai-style. I learned that from the Lerdsila fight as well – not to warm into the first round and wait until the later rounds like in the Thai stadiums. I want to take it to him straight away.”