Rodtang Jitmuangnon knows what it feels like to get submitted. But it has not diminished his enthusiasm for the sport and he plans to switch focus and start pursuing his MMA dreams once the flyweight Grand Prix is over.

Rodtang is set to face Jacob Smith in the opening round of the tournament on Friday. If he keeps winning it means the Thai is guaranteed at least three more Muay Thai fights.

He has already been put to sleep by Demetrious Johnson in a mixed rules fight. But after the tournament he says he plans to start focusing on MMA,

“I still have goals in MMA, even though my last fight with Demetrious Johnson was a tough fight. After this Grand Prix, I want to focus on fighting in MMA.”

Elite fighters

It is fair to say Rodtang will have his hands full with the flyweight Grand Prix. There are eight fighters on the tournament and the opening round takes place at ONE 157 on Friday.

Rodtang has been matched with Jacob Smith. Should he win, and it will be a major upset if he doesn’t, the Thai is set to face either Savvas Michael or Amir Nasseri in the next round.

On the opposite side of the bracket lurk elite fighters like Jonathan Haggerty and Superlek Kiatmoo0. Rodtang has already beaten the Englishman but has yet to take on a Thai opponent in ONE Championship.

One by one

He is already the promotion’s flyweight Muay Thai champion but won’t be putting his title on the line during the tournament. While he is already thinking of moving into MMA the 24 year old says he remains fully focused on the Grand Prix,

“This is very different from a normal fight. The Grand Prix format goes round-by-round (and) I have to focus on my opponents one-by-one.”

Having already won the flyweight Muay Thai title and successfully defended it three times Rodtang would be left very short of potential opponents if he was to win the Grand Prix. It would be the perfect time for him to transition to MMA.

One fight

But that is far from a foregone conclusion. Panpayak Jitmuangnon, who is competing in the alternate bout, could also offer a stern examination of Rodtang’s title credentials. Both he and Superlek have been more successful than the champion on the stadium scene in Bangkok.

He says he won’t be underestimating anyone,

“Never underestimate any of the fighters in this tournament, all eight of us want the World Grand Prix title and they have the opportunity to take my belt away.”

So while Rodtang’s head might be full of MMA dreams for the time being he is content to take it,

“One fight, one at a time.”