Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai recently made a dramatic transformation, as he dropped from lightweight to featherweight for his bout with Honorio “The Rock” Banario at ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE last month.
The Thai mixed martial arts pioneer competed in the heavier weight class for three years and grew into the category, but he decided to move back down to the featherweight division in the best interests of his career.
“Luke Adams, one of the coaches at Bangkok Fight Lab, convinced me and gave me all the reasons to drop down, and I thought it made sense,” the 31-year-old reveals.
“I had thought about it since I fought Shinya Aoki [in July 2018], but he is exceptional. So I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll just keep working.’ Then I fought Amarsanaa Tsogookhuu [in February 2019], and he was really strong.
“Also, Timofey Nastyukhin is my friend and we train together at Tiger Muay Thai. He is a monster. When people asked me why I was dropping a weight class, I just pointed at him and said, ‘You see that guy?’ And they said, ‘Okay, we know now!’”
With the plan in place and a match booked against Banario on 28 February in Singapore, Wiratchai set about his task of making the featherweight limit.
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The Bangkok resident did not reinvent the wheel to do it, however. For “OneShin,” it was all about engaging in quality training and making sensible food choices.
“It took more discipline to compete at featherweight. You have to control your weight and your eating, and make sure you move more than at lightweight,” he offers.
“But actually, my diet this time was more relaxed than when I was at featherweight [earlier in my career]. When I was in Bangkok, I tried to eat more veggies and spent some time eating vegan – sometimes one week at a time, but then it made me feel fatigued.
“When I got to Phuket, I knew that I would just be training and sleeping, and not going out, so I could eat more relaxed – like Thai food, stir fry, meat, veggies, and good carbs.
“From my sports science days, I know it is just calories in and calories out. I was training two times a day, and then focusing on my dinner with meat, veggies, and some rice, and just not eating too much.”
Wiratchai also took on a new regime with strength and conditioning coach Steve Pipe, which meant he could not cut any corners.
“We focused on heart rate and measurements,” the Thai athlete explains. “This made me know my body more, and I could not cheat because I knew what my heart rate needed to be and what I needed to get it back down to for my recovery.”
Overall, he was pleased with the results.
Although he lost to Banario via razor-thin split decision, “OneShin” plans to stick around in this weight class.
“I love how my body feels at featherweight. I can control my body better, and I can control my cardio — my gas tank is getting better,” he explains.
“I lost some strength, which I felt when Honorio pushed me against the fence. My power was still okay, but not as good as [when I was at] lightweight. I think I will get more benefit from staying at featherweight and building my muscle and strength back, though.”
Not only has the weight loss made Wiratchai feel more comfortable, but it has also enhanced his life in several other ways.
“In daily life, my posture and everything changed,” he offers.
“When you carry more weight, your posture and alignment are not the same. But when you are the right weight for your body, it feels good, and I look better in photos! It has given me better performance — not just in the gym, but in life, too!”
Speaking of photos, you can take a look at his incredible transformation in the pictures above.