On Saturday, 15 June, the Thai superstar made a victorious debut in The Home of Martial Arts against Liam “Hitman” Harrison as the two elite Muay Thai bantamweights went to war in the ring.
Rodlek showed all the qualities a martial artist must have – skill, grit, and respect. Together with his English foe, he put on an incredible performance to thrill the crowd at the Baoshan Arena in Shanghai, China.
Even though he was on the receiving end of some strikes that would have finished a lesser competitor, the 29-year-old from Bangkok enjoyed himself, too.
“It was my first time at ONE, and I was really excited. It was also my first time fighting a foreigner, and first time fighting three rounds,” he explains.
Despite getting a unanimous decision nod from the judges at ringside, the contest was a lot closer than the Thai let on.
Harrison – an eight-time World Champion – battered his rival’s front leg with kicks, but as a veteran of 170 professional matches, Rodlek was able to adapt.
“Liam is really good. He’s got a lot of power in his strikes,” Rodlek says.
“In the second round, the leg kicks started to hurt, so I switched to southpaw. In Muay Thai, I’ve had to switch to southpaw before, so it wasn’t something new. It made it harder for him to land his kick.
“I think he can finish a lot of people with those kicks, but not me.”
After a galvanizing first round, Rodlek picked up the pace. With a mission to entertain the fans, the Channel 7 Muay Thai World Champion started to let his hands go.
With the aid of 4-ounce gloves, Rodlek found a home for his dangerous right hand and sent Harrison to the canvas.
“I didn’t think the punch would put it him down – it was good timing,” he says.
“It was my very first time with the small gloves, and they hurt a lot more. You can’t get hit with those, the KO is inevitable.”
Going into the third round, Rodlek was ahead on the scorecards, but his respect for his opponent meant that he did not charge forward in search of a finish.
The Thai hero craved his first victory with the world’s largest martial arts organization, and he knew he had done enough to win, so he admits he did not want to do anything too risky against such a dangerous opponent.
“Going into the third, I knew I was ahead on points. I just made sure not to get knocked down,” he explains.
“I felt that I lost the third round because my leg was so sore. If my leg wasn’t hurting, I think the last round would have been a lot more exciting, but I was worried that a few more leg kicks could finish me.”
Rodlek was humbled by everything about his first adventure with ONE – from the scale of the platform he competed on, to the attention he received.
He was highly regarded on the Thai circuit, and by hardcore followers of “the art of eight limbs,” but ONE is something else entirely – and he is delighted to be a part of it.
“It isn’t at all like Muay Thai in Thailand – it was a brand new experience for me. I was really excited to get to show my skills to the world. It was an amazing opportunity.”
“I just want to keep fighting with ONE. It is great to have people get to know me internationally, and they take such good care of their athletes. It’s another level.”
Now that he has his first win on the global stage, he is looking forward to mixing it up with more of the best strikers on the planet.
And the good news for fans is that he believes that his incredible, back-and-forth battle was not even close to what he is capable of.
“My first fight wasn’t anything special, but I think my next fight will be even more exciting,” he adds.