Cambodian martial arts star Rin Saroth is leaving no stone unturned in his quest for improvement.
Ahead of his 68-kilogram catch weight bout against Myanmar debutant “The Dragon Leg” Tial Thang at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR on Friday, 8 March, Saroth has made some pivotal changes to his normal training routine.
The 25-year-old spent the earlier portion of his training camp at Cambodian Top Team in Phnom Penh.
In mid-February, however, he left for Bangkok, Thailand to finish his preparation under the watchful eye of former ONE Championship athlete Nicholas “JJ” Lee at his Yorky Mixed Martial Arts gym.
“The first time we crossed paths was for [Saroth’s] last fight in Bangkok,” Lee says. “I spent a few days working out with him before the fight, and we instantly had a great connection.”
Can Rin Saroth score a huge win for Cambodia on Saturday? Bangkok | 6 October | 5:30PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneheroes18
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, October 2, 2018
That connection turned into a coaching relationship, as Lee is helping Saroth prepare for Tial Thang, who is looking to make an impression on home soil in Yangon, Myanmar.
They have only been working together for a few weeks, but Lee is already excited about the Cambodian’s potential.
“He’s extremely talented, very humble, dedicated, and hard-working,” the Thailand-based coach offers.
“He almost learns too fast. He’s also very athletic and powerful. I cannot say enough good things about him. It’s hard to explain, but I see the ‘it’ factor in him — something very special.”
The Cambodian’s opponent arrives in The Home Of Martial Arts with great expectations on his shoulders.
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Though Saroth brings veteran experience into the three-round affair, the Khmer athlete and his trainers know the danger that “The Dragon Leg” presents.
“We feel that Rin Saroth is a different martial artist compared to before,” explains Cambodian Top Team founder Hun Chan Reach, who serves as the Phnom Penh native’s head coach.
“Even though it is [Tial Thang‘s] pro debut, he has had a great amateur career. He is Aung La N Sang‘s prodigy, so fighting him in his home country will be like fighting Aung La N Sang himself in terms of fan support. It will be an honor to share the cage with a future Myanmar hero.”
Saroth is a Kun Khmer specialist who loves to throw fists, kicks, knees, and elbows.
Besides tightening his stand-up game with Lee in Bangkok, he has also been working on his grappling in anticipation of his upcoming clash with the four-time Chin State Wrestling Champion.
His team expects “The Dragon Leg” to use his wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills to frustrate the Cambodian, but that plan could backfire.
“It’s no secret that Tial Thang will try to take him down, and [he] knows we’ve been working on our takedown defense,” Lee explains. “It’s another classic striker versus grappler match-up.”
Saroth’s coaches are clearly delighted with their athlete’s rapid development and preparation, and the Khmer martial artist is ready to unleash the new-and-improved version of himself when he steps into the cage this Friday.
“I feel very different in terms of taking charge of a fight,” he says.
“My attacks and overall defense are so much quicker and better. I’m ready to show what I’ve got.”