At ONE: FOR HONOR, martial arts fans saw what was probably the best bout in the short history of ONE Super Series as Jonathan “The General” Haggerty stole Sam-A Gaiyanghadao’s ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Title.
The 22-year-old from England went toe-to-toe with a legend of Muay Thai in a back-and-forth brawl that went all the way to the judges’ scorecards.
Both men threw everything they had at each other – spinning elbows, hard roundhouse kicks, teeps to the face – but Haggerty took command of the bout in the opening minutes, and then scored knockdowns in the third and fifth rounds to take a clear unanimous decision.
Now that the Londoner has had time to reflect on his tremendous achievement, he looked back at how he upset one of the greatest ever practitioners of “the art of eight limbs,” and looked forward to his first World Title defense against the man he called out after his victory – Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon.
ONE Championship: How does it feel to be the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion after defeating an icon?
Jonathan Haggerty: It’s an unbelievable achievement – everybody keeps saying I beat a legend, and it has sort of kicked in now.
When I was in Indonesia, it didn’t, but now I’ve come back to reality, and I feel like no one can beat me at this point in my career.
ONE: What was your game plan to take out such a skilled opponent?
JH: This fight camp was not stressful, but it was on my mind that I was facing a southpaw, and I knew what his main weapons were.
I was sparring with Liam Nolan, who has the same attributes as Sam-A, but he’s bigger and more powerful. He’s got the big left kick and the big left hand. I wanted to block his left kick and back hand, mainly. Also, the big one was stepping to my left.
I wanted to attack and teep the front leg to jar him. I know he’s had 400 fights, but I thought I could get in his head. It’s a different atmosphere for him – it’s mixed martial arts gloves, and things can change quickly.
I was also going a throw a scissor low kick to his front leg, and then bring my front leg back to get a lot of power with it.
ONE: You did not mention your boxing, but the two knockdowns came from right hands – do you think you surprised him with them?
JH: I get told that the power in my hands is quite frightening. I can sit back, and I can use my left leg and right elbow, but it shows when I put my punches together, I can cause some damage.
I forgot to mention, for that fight camp, I did a lot of boxing training sessions, and I was working my left hook with my trainer, Christian Knowles.
ONE: Sam-A came back strong in round four. How did it feel to absorb those powerful kicks and punches to the body?
JH: As I came out for round four, I heard the referee say, ‘Round four!’ I thought, ‘Really? Round four? I’ve won the fight! All I need to do now is defend and keep it simple.’ As I thought that, he came at me like hell.
I suppose that’s what he needed to do, but I wasn’t fazed. You can see from my face that I enjoyed that. I was calling him on.
There was only one shot that I felt – not the body shot, it was the left knee. That’s when I thought, ‘Ooh, I’ll have a little step back and breathe here!’ But there’s no way I would take a knee. The only way he could stop me is if I got knocked out.
ONE: Going into the final round, you caught him again – was that planned?
JH: If you watch the fifth round, I was sort of on the back foot. My back wasn’t against the ropes – I was trying to stay in the middle and stay composed – but I thought he was going to come out again, and I’m just going to have to move off, and then…
Before the fight, he said he was going to put the pressure on me. I didn’t want to say anything, because when people put the pressure on me, I perform better.
When he said that, my whole camp thought, ‘I hope he does that.’ When I move back, I’m dangerous. I used to be a counter fighter until I started knocking people out and I thought I had to go forward sometimes.
He landed that [punch] on himself. There was not really any power, but he was coming forward and he was tired – so thank you very much, Sam-A!
Jonathan Haggerty has done it! The British phenom shocks Sam-A… and calls out another Thai superstar! TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, May 3, 2019
ONE: Did you always plan to call out Rodtang if you got your hand raised?
JH: Before I even joined ONE, he was always on my mind. His style is so perfect for me.
I might be wrong – I might get in there, and he might absolutely shock me and demolish me but, touch wood, he won’t, and I don’t think he’s got the skills for that.
He’s my perfect opponent. He’s not like Sam-A. He’s forward, he’s one-dimensional. He’s strong and he’s in his prime, but so am I. He’s perfect for me. I’ve always wanted him.
ONE: He has said he is ‘100 percent confident’ he can beat you. Does his aggressive style worry you?
JH: If he thinks he’s going to low kick me and box me, he needs to think about my left teep – that’s all I’m going to say!
Also, my blocking is unbelievable, especially with low kicks. I’ve fought people in the past who have specialized in low kicks, and Rodtang doesn’t, and I’ve blocked every single low kick. I’ve even busted up their shins.
With Rodtang, everything will be down the middle – teep to the face, teep to the body. He’s small, too. I know size doesn’t matter, but anybody who is below my shoulder is never going to beat me.
I’m in fight camp – I’m always in fight camp – so let’s get it on.