This Friday, 22 November, Nong-O Gaiyanghadao will face his toughest challenge in ONE Super Series in a historic match for Thai martial arts.
At ONE: EDGE OF GREATNESS inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion will defend his belt for the third time. He puts his gold on the line against his countryman, Saemapetch Fairtex.
Though thousands of great match-ups in “the art of eight limbs” have played out between Thais in the past, this will be the first on the global stage for martial arts.
Nong-O is proud to showcase his country’s national art to the world with one of his compatriots, but he says it will not stop him from giving everything to win in style.
While he has yet to face a compatriot under the ONE banner, he defended both his Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Stadium World Titles solely against Thai opposition earlier in his career.
“Every single time I fight, it is exciting and interesting for me,” he explains.
“It is my duty to fight. Whether it is a Thai or a foreigner, I have to do my utmost. It is normal to me, and normal in Muay Thai. I’m not thinking too much about it. I will fight with dignity and do my very best.”
He is also excited to compete in his adopted hometown for the first time.
The 33-year-old has lived in Singapore since he joined Evolve a few years ago, and he will finally have the chance to perform in front of all his new friends and teammates in “The Lion City” – just a few minutes away from his gym and home.
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“This is my first time fighting in Singapore, and I am really excited,” the martial arts icon says.
“I am feeling really confident. I am focused on training really hard, and I will make sure that I can win. As for how I can win, only time will tell. It must be decided in the ring.”
Nong-O has no doubt in his skills, but he has not faced anyone like Saemapetch since he came out of retirement to compete in The Home Of Martial Arts a couple of years ago.
Saemapetch is an MTGP World Champion with a 3-0 record in ONE, which makes up part of his outstanding 120-15-1 overall slate. He is powerful, durable, and significantly – like Nong-O – a product of the kind of intense training from childhood that makes Thai competitors so skilled.
Although he says the defending World Champion is his idol, he does not lack confidence, and the Evolve representative believes that it is well-placed.
“Saemapetch is a good fighter, and has really good boxing,” he continues.
“He’s very strong, and a smart fighter too. He’s also still very young, and is in very good shape. He has knocked a lot of people out.
“I’ve been watching him on YouTube, and I haven’t yet seen a weakness in him. He’s been doing well every fight – especially in his most recent matches. I will do my best to make sure the belt stays with me.”
Despite Nong-O’s praise for his challenger, he is determined to retain his belt and he is confident he will record the 261st victory of his illustrious career.
While he acknowledges his imposing opponent’s strengths, the Evolve representative believes he will have a few distinct advantages that will allow him to get his hand raised.
“Definitely my speed. I think I’ll be faster than him. Also my kick – I think it will be better than his,” he explains. “I am ready to fight hard. I’ll leverage everything I have for the fans watching.”
Both Nong-O and Saemapetch will enter this bout with nothing but respect for each other, but do not expect that to mean they will hold anything back when they go to battle for up to five rounds.
“I want to tell Saemapetch to train his hardest, be committed, and make this an exciting fight,” the reigning ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion says.
“Win or lose, we are both Thai people and have love for each other.”