“The Steel Locomotive” knows nothing will come easy against the division’s reigning king at ONE: COLLISION COURSE in Singapore, but the potential payoff is all the motivation he needs.
“People may think I cannot beat him, but if I could win against Nong-O, it will change my life,” the challenger from Koh Samui says.
“This would be the biggest honor of my life, and it would bring a bigger reputation to my gym to have its first [ONE Super Series] World Champion. It matters for us.”
Rodlek’s rise to contendership through the ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai Tournament was a remarkable testament to his perseverance. Just like his style in the ring, he refuses to back down and will push forward in the face of adversity.
The PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym representative dropped a majority decision to Saemapetch Fairtex in the opening round in August, but when Saemapetch was injured and unable to take his spot in the final against “Left Meteorite” Kulabdam Sor. Jor. Piek Uthai, Rodlek stepped up to the plate.
He made the most of that second chance with a stunning victory over Kulabdam, dropping “Left Meteorite” twice en route to a dominant unanimous decision.
“When I lost in the first round [of the tournament], I felt hopeless, like I may need to start again. But luckily, I got the chance to fight Kulabdam,” Rodlek says.
“Kulabdam had just beaten Sangmanee – he was very powerful, and I was afraid that I would lose, but I thought if I closed down his punches on the left side, I could win.
“When I was in the ring, I closed down his left punches, and everything was in my control.”
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Of course, Rodlek, who is now the #2-ranked bantamweight Muay Thai contender, will have to deliver an even better performance to have a shot against the reigning ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion.
Nong-O has gone unbeaten in six ONE Super Series battles – including four World Title bouts – and he’s never looked to be in trouble.
“The Steel Locomotive” understands there will be plenty of problems to solve against the 316-bout veteran, but he’s already shown that nothing is impossible.
“I am glad to face him because everyone thinks I am inferior to him in terms of experience and skill. If I lose, I lose nothing. But if I win, I can make a giant leap for my career,” the 30-year-old challenger says.
“I have to move forward on him because if I don’t, he will do it instead, but he has a lot of tactics and a lot of experience. I will need to step forward as usual, but more carefully because he is very fast. If I miss, there will be a high chance I will lose.
“This could be my only chance to win [a ONE World Title] in my career. If I lose, I have to start again. If I can defeat him, I will be the champion, so I must do my best, try harder, and practice harder than ever. Anything can be achieved with my effort.”
While Rodlek is clearly a humble challenger and deferential to the legend who will stand in front of him in Singapore, he also knows that Nong-O is the only man who can separate him from his dreams.
That means when crunch time arrives, it will be business as usual for the challenger — and that means relentless offense for as long as the match goes.
“I will attack from the start and let him throw out his fists to reduce his power. Then it will be my time to beat him,” Rodlek offers.
“My outstanding weapon could be a kick or a punch. It does not depend on the strength, but on the continuity, and I think I will last for a longer time and beat my opponent.
“I want to say to Nong-O that I will not be easy, and I may have something special for you on that day. Be careful and get ready.”