The pressure was on Petchmorrakot Petchyindee Academy to deliver in his final bout of 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – but he rose to the occasion.
The Thai star came into his main card ONE Super Series bout at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS against a late replacement, and in need of a win to stand out among the other elite strikers in ONE Championship.
Though he was competing at featherweight – a more comfortable division for the two-division Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Champion – he was up against a dangerous opponent.
Petchmorrakot's elbow was ON POINT. Download the ONE Super App now http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, December 8, 2018
The UK’s eight-time Muay Thai World Champion Liam “Hitman” Harrison came out of his corner hard, as the Thai got off to a slow start, but Petchmorrakot reveals that was all part of the plan.
“I was really excited in the first round, and a little tentative too,” he explains.
“I wanted to see what Liam was going to bring. He has really powerful punches, and is a really well-rounded fighter.”
Going into the second stanza of the match, the audience at the Axiata Arena saw a renewed Petchmorrakot quickly change gears.
He started to use more forward pressure as the two world champions engaged in a back-and-forth battle, until a huge elbow sent Harrison crashing to the canvas.
The big-hearted Brit wanted to continue and returned to his feet, but he failed to beat the referee’s count, and Petchmorrakot earned the victory by KO at the 1:15 mark of round two.
“My manager, Boat, told me to walk forward, push him back, punch, and elbow,” he says
“I just threw the elbow out naturally when I saw an opening. I didn’t know it would knock him out.
“At first, I thought he was going to get up. I didn’t think the referee would stop it. I was really happy for the KO victory.”
It was a dominant ending to a big year for Petchmorrakot. The 25-year-old competed under the ONE banner three times in 2018, and has shown why he is regarded as one of his country’s greatest talents.
Back in June, the Ubon Ratchathani native made his debut at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER in Macau.
Taking on the formidable Fabrice Fairtex Delannon, Petchmorrakot’s elbows again brought him victory as he stopped the Frenchman 43 seconds into the second round.
That gave fans a taste of what he is capable of, but once he moved up to featherweight to face Harrison, his full potential was unleashed.
Now he is in the right place, he is looking forward to performing on the global stage for martial arts next year.
“I’m much more comfortable at this weight class,” he says.
“It is a lot of fun competing for ONE Championship. I get to travel abroad.”
“I’m happy to compete wherever the promotion sends me.”
Before then, he is taking some time off training to head home to the countryside of Northeast Thailand for some rest and relaxation.
His family lives in a small village in Ubon Ratchathani – nearly 10 hours from Bangkok – where they farm rice. It is light years away from the hustle and bustle of the capital he has grown accustomed to after nearly a decade, but he is enjoying the home comforts.
Eager to please her hardworking son, Petchmorrakot’s mom – who he supports through his martial arts career – has been cooking up all his favorites including mushroom stew made with handpicked wild mushrooms, and soup made from locally raised chicken with homegrown Thai herbs.
“I’ve just been eating and sleeping,” he laughs.
Soon, Petchmorrakot will return to Petchyindee Academy to start his training again, and take aim at another pivotal year in the Home Of Martial Arts.
If he can perform as he did in KL again, he is destined to become a fan favorite and a candidate for a World Title.