The martial arts heroes of ONE: CLASH OF LEGENDS went face-to-face at the event’s Official Kick-Off Press Conference at the W Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand on Wednesday, 13 February.
Athletes also addressed the media ahead of their match-ups this Saturday, 16 February.
The latest ONE Championship live event at the Impact Arena – the first of 2019 – will feature local stars in ONE Super Series action as well as in mixed martial arts bouts.
At the top of the show, the first ever ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion will be crowned in a battle between two knockout strikers.
For Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, this is the latest opportunity for the Muay Thai legend to add another World Title to his already stellar résumé.
With more than 300 bouts on his record, the Evolve representative has faced the best of the best over the years, and is still at the top of his game as he seeks to win the biggest prize of his career in the main event against Han Zi Hao on Saturday night.
“I would like to say that I am extremely excited and happy,” Nong-O said.
“This is the first time I am able to contend for a World Title in ONE Championship. Han Zi Hao is very fast and a very good athlete. I will tell you one thing, I will not underestimate him. Through my practice and my training, I have become strong.
“My opponent is very strong and very young, and I will not underestimate him at all.”
Han will proudly represent China in the main event against an athlete who he considers to be his idol in the sport.
“This time I have the chance to challenge for the title. That means a lot to me,” Han said.
“Nong-O is one of the best Muay Thai athletes. He is my idol. I have been watching his fights since I was a kid. After so many years of hard work, I finally have the chance to face my idol, and I have the chance to challenge for the title.
“It’s a big honor to me. I will put on my best performance on the event night. I want to bring the belt to China, and I also hope I will be the first Chinese male champion ever.”
In the co-main event, another Thai legend will step into the ONE Super Series arena as Kongsak P.K.Saenchaimuaythaigym looks forward to putting on a show in front of his home crowd against Alaverdi “Babyface Killer” Ramazanov.
“I’m very happy being part of ONE Championship,” Kongsak said.
“This is my first time here. I will try my best, and I would thank all Thai people and everyone who cheers me on.”
His opponent burst into ONE Super Series last year with two stunning wins, and he is confident of getting a third at the Impact Arena in a co-main event match-up that could determine the next World Title contender in the ONE Super Series bantamweight division.
“I’m from a small town in Dagestan – a small but yet a very cultured place with a lot of martial arts,” Ramazanov says about his home in Russia.
“We just keep developing every year. I always had a dream to compete on a big stage and a big event like this. My dreams brought me this far that I’m here in front of you right now.
“I can promise you this is going to be exciting, it’s going to be a very good fight. That’s one I can guarantee you.”
In a mixed martial arts bout at ONE: CLASH OF LEGENDS, Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai will once again attempt to thrill the crowd with his non-stop action style as he takes on ONE Championship newcomer Amarsanaa Tsogookhuu.
The smile on Wiratchai’s face was undeniable as he glowed with excitement about putting on a show in front of the Thai audience.
“I’m so happy to come back to Bangkok again. I’m so happy to be on the card,” Wiratchai said.
“Bangkok is always one of the most amazing places on the planet. I guarantee my clash on Saturday with Amarsanna Tsogookhuu is going to be fun.”
For his part, Tsogookhuu may be stepping into enemy territory by facing Wiratchai in Thailand, but he is looking at this opportunity as a chance raise his nation’s profile in mixed martial arts.
He also looks to walk a similar path to another iconic ONE athlete who hails from his homeland.
“There aren’t a lot of people from Mongolia in the world of mixed martial arts, and that’s why I felt that it’s my responsibility to help put the country on the map,” Tsogookhuu explained.
“I may not be the first but I feel I can help make an impact.
“Of course, I would like to follow in the footsteps of one of our own Mongolian heroes and former ONE Featherweight World Champion, Narantungalag Jadambaa.
“[He] showed Mongolians have what it takes to become World Champions and it would give me a great honor to one day be mentioned in the same breath as him as ONE World Champions to come from out of Mongolia.”
“Tiny Doll” has spent her entire career as part of the ONE Championship roster and put together a 4-2 record. Now she attempts to build some momentum after picking up a victory in her last appearance where she earned a first-round TKO.
“I’m so excited to compete in my hometown again. I’m so excited to see you guys today,” Ishige said as she greeted the Bangkok crowd.
Much like the main event, Pov has the chance to face an opponent who she admires very much, which is exactly why this opportunity means so much to her.
“I’m very happy and honored to be here competing in Bangkok, especially against my idol, who I consider my hero, Rika,” Pov says.
“I look forward to competing with her on 16 February.”