The Evolution Of Muay Thai Fighting Styles In ONE Super Series
ONE Championship’s tenth-anniversary show, ONE X, is not just a celebration of the organization’s decade-long success. It’s also an event that will honor the various martial arts featured inside the Circle – Muay Thai being one of them.
It makes perfect sense, then, that ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao will defend his belt against #4-ranked contender Alaverdi “Babyface Killer” Ramazanov at the event that takes place on 26 March inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
On the same night, ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon will also try to prove that his sport is superior to that of 12-time MMA World Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson’s mixed martial arts in a special rules super-fight.
Having said that, there’s no question that Muay Thai has been at the forefront of most of the organization’s heart-stopping action since ONE Super Series began in 2018. With ONE X now just weeks away, we look back on the past four years to relive the evolution of Muay Thai fighting styles showcased inside the Circle.
The ONE Super Series Legend Who Showed His Muay Thai IQ
The weapons of Muay Thai were on full display for the first time on 26 January 2018 at ONE: GLOBAL SUPERHEROES. That night, Muay Thai legend and Lumpinee Stadium World Champion Sam-A Gaiyanghadao faced Italian-Moroccan Joseph “The Hurricane” Lasiri in the organization’s inaugural Muay Thai bout.
In that contest, Sam-A defeated the then-WBC Muay Thai Super Bantamweight World Champion via a second-round technical knockout. Using a smart game plan, the Thai let his opponent become the aggressor and countered effectively, and the accumulation of strikes eventually took their toll on Lasiri.
That inaugural fight sparked so much interest among combat sports fans that ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced the establishment of ONE Super Series only two weeks later.
Sityodtong’s decision gave Sam-A the chance to shine his brilliant techniques for years to come, but it also gave an opportunity for other fighters with similar and contrasting styles to showcase their skills.
The Muay Thai Tactician Who’s Gone Undefeated in ONE Super Series
ONE: HEROES OF HONOR on 20 April 2018 became the promotion’s first hybrid show. Amazingly, Nong-O – the man who will be defending his Muay Thai World Championship at ONE X – kicked off his ONE Super Series career four years ago against French striking star Fabio Pinca.
Nong-O, a fighter who relies on smart counters, won by unanimous decision and hasn’t lost a fight since. In fact, he went on to win the ONE Bantamweight World Title 14 months later and has defended it four times against the division’s best.
But don’t confuse his slick style for a lack of power, because he knows how to finish his opponents once they indicate they’re ready for the taking, especially in close range. He finished both #1-ranked Saemapetch Fairtex and #3-ranked “The Steel Locomotive” Rodlek PK.Saenchai by knockout.
But for every fighter who loves to throw elbows and punches in ONE Super Series, there’s always another athlete who loves to kick and knee.
The Rise Of ONE Super Series’ Notorious Muay Thai Knee Striker
While the art of Muay Thai consists of punches, elbows, knees, kicks, clinching, and throws, practitioners differ in fighting styles based on their physical builds and the gyms that they come from.
Taller athletes, for instance, like to fight at a distance and then close out their attacks by marching in with knees. These are known as muay khao fighters, and the power in their techniques comes from near-perfect balance and proper form.
ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Champion Petchmorakot Petchyindee is one of the best examples of such fighters in this category. He used this very same technique in his ONE debut to defeat Fabrice Delannon at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER on 23 June 2018.
With that win, Petchmorakot showed the world that getting in there and grinding your opponent down with knees and kicks is just another variation of Muay Thai fighting styles.
Some fighters, however, like to avoid taking damage while dishing out attacks, and that was the style showcased by Petchmorakot’s compatriot on the same night.
The Debut Of The Craftiest Muay Thai Fighter in ONE Super Series
There’s another classification for technically-sound strikers who can adjust fighting styles based on how their foes attack. Like Sam-A, these strikers are known as muay femur fighters.
Muay femurs are very elusive and balance defense and offense equally. Every move they make is smooth and calculated, yet they pounce with accurate aggression when the moment is right.
High fighting IQ is how experts describe those who embrace this philosophy, and they can get into their opponents’ heads due to their sneakiness.
Some Muay Thai fighters take a vastly different approach, throwing caution out the window and instead focus on brawling. Fans got a taste of this style when the next man on our list entered the Circle.
The Muay Thai ‘Tank’ Who Rolled Through ONE Super Series
Close to three months after Petchmorakot and Lerdsila’s debuts, Rodtang participated for the first time in ONE Super Series at ONE: CONQUEST OF HEROES on 22 September 2018.
He introduced the global audience to another fighting style called muay mat, wherein an athlete constantly moves forward while attacking with thigh-lumping low kicks and heavy-handed punches.
Muay mat fighters strive for an early finish while withstanding crunching blows from their opponents. Their aggressiveness makes them dangerous early in the opening rounds. Also, their sturdy chin makes them fearless when trading punches.
The current ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion showcased this style when he defeated Sergio Wielzen in his debut. On that night, he threw everything he could at the Surinamese man at a blistering pace.
Since then, Rodtang stayed the course to claim nine more victories, four of which have been World Title defenses. Having said all that, now you see why Rodtang’s been chosen as the man to defend Muay Thai against Johnson at ONE X.
The ‘One Punch Man’ Who Made ONE Super Series History
Before he made his 2020 debut in ONE Super Series, Capitan Petchyindee was known as one of the best all-around fighters in Thailand. But that soon changed when he moved to Petchyindee Academy, improved his strength and conditioning, and showed he had power to put away his foes.
Although Capitan has since transitioned into kickboxing and claimed the ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Title from Ramazanov, he’ll forever go down as one of the greatest Muay Thai punchers in ONE Super Series.
Moreover, he’s ushered in a new style of fighting that might not be as popular in Thailand’s hardcore Muay Thai circuit, but one that pleases fans around the world.
However, not to worry. If you’re clamoring for another of his dominant displays, Capitan will be defending his ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Title at ONE X against #2-ranked contender Hiroki Akimoto.