After a short hiatus, the Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Champion will return to aggressively pursue a knockout in his highly-anticipated second outing at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD this Friday, 16 August.
Many opponents fell to his signature short-range elbow before he arrived on the global stage for martial arts, and now he is hoping to show the world how dangerous he can be in his bantamweight match against Kenta Yamada at the Impact Arena in Bangkok.
The 25-year-old first got his start in Muay Thai under the tutelage of his father in their village in Nong Ki, Buriram.
It was there that he developed the attributes that made him into the come-forward, fearless athlete that became a star in his homeland.
“The training at my dad’s gym was really intense. He’s really tight on what needs to be done, and pushes you,” he explains.
“My dad teaches us to fight really hard. To be willing to exchange, push forward, and be aggressive. This is his style.
“He always said to remember that we are well-conditioned and not to be scared of anything, and to just go for it. He told us, if you want to be a fighter, you need to give it 100 percent. He doesn’t like fighters that fight to defend or don’t leave it all in the ring.
“My dad is known for being very fierce. All his fighters are extremely tough and durable. My style is muay bu (aggressor) – it always makes for exciting match-ups. I think the fans will like that, and that my style appeals to an international audience.”
Through his father’s old-school methods, Muangthai’s trademark style was harnessed.
His impeccable conditioning, unbreakable spirit, and unwavering aggression took him to three World Titles in “the art of eight limbs” and made him a fan-favorite among hardcore Muay Thai enthusiasts – despite his doubters.
“I had some talent from a young age, but was made fun of for being so small, and weak. No one thought I would get this far in my career.
“But I always fought hard, and had heart.”
Eventually, like most top-tier athletes from Thailand’s Northeast, Muangthai made the pilgrimage to Bangkok to pursue glory in the city’s stadiums.
He maintained his trademark offensive style, and after a string of high-profile knockout wins in the capital, he was given the nickname “Elbow Zombie” by his manager, Sia Ket, from PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym.
It was not the first time he was given a name that told opponents he would give them a torrid time in the ring, but this one captured the imagination of fans and stuck.
“I think Sia Ket gave me the nickname about two or three years ago,” he says.
“Before, it was “The Boy Who Yields To No One.” I’ve had a few nicknames in my career, but this one has stuck the longest.”
There are not many elite martial arts athletes that can pull off this approach, but the combination of Muangthai’s courage and skill means he is one of that rare breed.
“There is danger when fighting with this style,” he explains.
“I can’t rush, and need to stay focused, but I don’t see the danger. My technique is there and I know what I need to do.”
Those attributes are the product of thousands of hours of arduous training with his father and brother that laid the foundation of his career.
Through the years, Muangthai developed freakish strength in the clinch, so it is hard for his rivals to escape his grip. His forward movement and relentless pace get him into position, and once he is there, he lets the elbows rip.
“I think it is my arm strength, combined with my technique, that I am able to get a lot of knockouts,” he adds.
“The strength I have is from my dad’s old-school style of training. He raised me to be tough, strong, and fearless in the ring.
“My brother taught me the elbow techniques. It worked well for me, and just took off from there.”
With such a well-known and feared weapon, most of his opponents will look to avoid a battle at close quarters with Thailand’s infamous “Elbow Zombie” at all costs.
If they can, Muangthai still has a complete arsenal of punches, knees, and kicks to win from the outside.
However, with nearly two decades of experience behind him, and more than 200 professional bouts to his name, Muangthai knows how to impose his game plan, and finish in style against world-class opposition – including Yamada.
“A lot of my opponents don’t want to clinch up with me because they are scared of my elbow, so they take a technical approach and try to fight me on the outside,” he says.
“But my dad raised me to just really go forward, and not give up. I’ll always keep trying to get on the inside where I am the strongest.
“Even though my opponents know it is coming, my strength and determination get me into position. If they aren’t as strong as me, I can always get on the inside.”