Rodlek PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym has been given a second chance to win the ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai Tournament, and he intends to capitalize on that opportunity on Friday, 28 August.
The winner will earn the right to challenge divisional king Nong-O Gaiyanghadao for the ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Title.
When Rodlek first joined ONE Championship in 2019, he stormed his way to the top.
The Thai veteran earned three consecutive victories over Liam Harrison, Andrew Miller, and Chris Shaw, solidifying his status as the #5-ranked bantamweight kickboxing contender.
Rodlek, who has 128 career wins, then entered the ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai Tournament at ONE: NO SURRENDER II earlier this month, and though he engaged in a competitive semifinal matchup against Saemapetch Fairtex, he fell on the wrong side of a majority decision.
However, that was not the end of his run, as a surprising injury to his countryman opened the door for a return.
“Saemapetch withdrew and I came into the final instead,” Rodlek says. “I felt very happy to get this opportunity and come closer to being the World Champion. [Once I found out], I hurried up and went back to training.”
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On Friday, the former Channel 7 Stadium Muay Thai World Champion will be standing across the ring from Kulabdam, who knocked out top-ranked contender “The Million Dollar Baby” Sangmanee Klong SuanPluResort with his trademark left cross in the first round of their semifinal matchup.
Rodlek was already quite familiar with the two-division Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Champion, and after witnessing that sensational KO at ONE: NO SURRENDER III, he is leaning on the guidance of his gym’s famous leader.
“I have Saenchai (PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym), the Muay Thai legend, suggesting to me how to fight with a puncher like Kulabdam,” the 30-year-old says.
“I know Kulabdam now will be really proud after he beat Sangmanee in his last fight. At first, many people underestimated him and thought his skills weren’t even close to Sangmanee’s skills.
“I saw he has improved a lot, especially since he fought in boxing. He has trained his punches more, and they’re harder and more dangerous. I have to protect well from those punches.”
Overall, these two athletes share a very similar fighting style.
Both of them love to move forward, throw low kicks, and fire off punches – especially their crosses. Perhaps the main difference between them is their stances.
“I am an orthodox fighter and he is a southpaw,” Rodlek says. “It might be a little bit difficult for an orthodox fighter with a southpaw, so I have to train by walking more to the right side of his body in order to avoid his left punches. Even if I get hit, it will not be that hard.”
Additionally, the PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym representative owns a battle-tested chin. In fact, he was last knocked out nearly 15 years ago at a small local event when he was only a teenager.
So, while Kulabdam is a young knockout artist who is entering his prime, Rodlek believes his own veteran experience and passion will lead him to victory.
“He is more fresh and young, but I am more well-rounded,” Rodlek says. “I am never an underdog to anyone. I give all my heart to the end, and I think my heart is much stronger than him.”