This Friday, 16 August, Stamp Fairtex will begin her quest to become an unprecedented three-sport ONE World Champion.
The 21-year-old from Pattaya, Thailand has already claimed Muay Thai and kickboxing gold in the atomweight division, and now she will go for glory in mixed martial arts, starting with a bout at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD against Asha “Knockout Queen” Roka.
Stamp’s success in the striking arts comes as no surprise considering she began her training in Muay Thai at the age of 5, but as some of the people who know her best explain, she is well equipped to go all the way to the top when multiple disciplines are combined in the Circle.
The Rayong native got her first taste of her new sport when she was recruited by the world-famous Fairtex team in Pattaya.
Though she had taken a few years away from the ring because she had run out of opponents in her home province, her Muay Thai skills were ingrained in her, and they just needed a little sharpening.
Her existing abilities would provide a strong foundation for her new challenge, but she had a lot to learn when it came to the ground game. Luckily, she was a natural.
“Once we put her into mixed martial arts, within three weeks, she was able to learn a lot,” says Prem Busarabavonwongs, Managing Director of Fairtex Training Center.
“It was a hidden talent I think because she’s a clinching fighter. BJJ and mixed martial arts really suited her and helped her a lot because she knows quite a lot of technique in clinching so she fell in love with it.”
Her talents caught the attention of the team at Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series (OWS) – ONE Championship’s home for the top rising stars in the world.
Stamp traveled to Bangkok in December 2017 to try out for a place on the mixed martial arts roster, and she made an immediate impact.
“I think she made the most lasting impression, not just on myself, but our whole team,” explains OWS Director, Jonathan Fong.
“In the striking [part of the tryouts], she immediately stood out. She could have hit those pads for four minutes or four hours, and we still would have been watching her. There were just these cracking sounds, the entire gym stopped, and all eyes were on this girl.
“At that point, we already knew we had something, and then she moved on to the flow grappling session with her coach. You could tell she was really green, but she was still moving well.
“We came to find out later she had only been training mixed martial arts, and jiu-jitsu in particular, for four months, so we told her coach, ‘Sparky [Jason Burnworth], we don’t care if over the next few months she does not put on gloves, focus only on grappling – get her wrestling and her jiu-jitsu up to par, and this girl is going to be a superstar.’”
Fong explains that the team was excited to see Stamp put to the test as soon as possible, so when she made her mixed martial arts debut at OWS 2 last July, they were on the edge of their seats.
She did not disappoint as she knocked out India’s Rashi Shinde after 19 seconds with a high kick – just her second strike of the contest.
Although it was the highlight of the event in Singapore, Fong admits he had mixed feelings about it – first, because he wanted to see how her ground game had progressed, and second, because he knew the matchmakers for ONE Super Series had their eye on their rising star.
“I looked at Rich, and I said, ‘Bro, I think they’re gonna take her,’ and at that point, we were powerless to stop it,” adds Fong.
Sure enough, that spectacular finish convinced them to recruit her, and plug her straight into the co-main event of ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES, where she got an instant shot at the ONE Atomweight Kickboxing World Title.
From the outside, it looked like Stamp had abandoned her mixed martial arts plans, but as soon as she had booked her second World Title bout at ONE: CALL TO GREATNESS, she expressed her desire to go after “Unstoppable” Angela Lee’s ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship.
Also, behind the scenes, she had never stopped training with her grappling coaches – even when she had ONE Super Series bouts against dangerous World Champion strikers to worry about.
“She defended her belt, but she was still required to train BJJ and mixed martial arts at least twice a week so she wouldn’t forget her moves. She was still learning,” explains Busarabavonwongs.
“If you want to be the best, if you want to have three belts, that’s what you have to do. You can’t just say, ‘Okay, now I’m fighting, wait, I’m going to throw my mixed martial arts away.’ That’s not the correct way to look at it.”
He is confident about his athlete’s chances of success at the Impact Arena, but he has shared some words of warning with her.
Because of her superstar status, she has a target on her back, and every one of her rivals will train even harder to defeat her so they can gain extra fame and notoriety by becoming the first to defeat her in The Home Of Martial Arts.
However, because of her skill and application on the mats, Busarabavonwongs believes she has every chance of maintaining that unblemished ONE record.
“She [has to] never stop learning and keep pushing herself, and that’s one thing good about Stamp – she will never give up on training. She listens to our advice, and whatever we asked her to do, she would do it with no hesitation,” he adds.
“She makes the training environment really happy and enjoyable. I think she deserved every bit of [success], and she’s still the same Stamp [despite winning two World Titles]. Since the first day I met her, she has been very humble.”
That is a view that is shared by OWS CEO, Rich Franklin, who will be watching closely to see if Stamp can meet his expectations this Friday.
“When I found Stamp, I believed that Stamp one day could be a mixed martial arts champion,” says the three-time World Champion.
“She needs time to develop. She’s one of those athletes who, on the ground, still has some ground to cover, but I knew this girl was star material the moment I saw her.”