The stage is set for what could be the fight of the year on August 2nd when Rodtang Jitmuangnon takes on Jonathan Haggerty at  ONE: ‘Dawn Of Heroes’ in Manila. The Englishman’s flyweight title will be on the line and he asked for the fight immediately after claiming it.

The dream matchup was made after Haggerty defeated Thai legend Sam-A Gaiyanghadao at ONE: ‘For Honor’ to win the title. Afterwards he announced he wanted to fight Rodtang and the Thai fighter was pleasantly surprised,

“I was pleased he called me out, it feels good to know that fighters around the world know who I am and want to fight me. I am very confident, but it will be a very tough fight because he is a very strong fighter. For me it is a sport and anyone can win or lose on the day, but I am determined to bring the title back to Thailand. The most important thing for me though is putting on a show for the fans,” Rodtang said.

Big reputation

Rodtang has earned a reputation for being an entertainer. It is something he feels a lot of pressure to live up to and he has been disappointed with a couple of his ONE Championship performances despite winning every fight,

“I wasn’t happy with my performances so far in a couple of the fights. The fight with Fahdi Khaled I didn’t get the chance to prepare 100% so felt I lacked a little spark, he also moved away a lot during the fight which made it very awkward and in the fight with Hakim Hamech in Tokyo it was very cold and I got sick around the time of the weigh in so couldn’t perform to my best. I am working very hard for the Haggerty fight though as we cannot underestimate him, he is very strong and tall and rangy and has very good technique.”

After the defeat to Haggerty, Sam-A’s manager and mentor Nuttadej Vachirarattanawong, the owner of Petchyindee Academy, posted on social media that foreign fighters were on track to overtake their Thai compatriots. Rodtang still feels this is unlikely to happen imminently,

“The Thai fighters are still ahead in terms of technique and experience and also in the ability to change fights around when things are going wrong. The foreign fighters are very dedicated and determined though. A lot of them pay to learn, some spend a lot of money coming to Thailand to train and that makes them want to get the most out of their training. Thai fighters are more relaxed about their training nowadays and that can cause problems when they fight.

He also feels a combination of age and inactivity might have counted against Sam-A,

“Also with Sam-A, he is not so young in terms of being a fighter and hadn’t been so active. This will have an impact in the later stages of the fight because when a younger, bigger opponent lands with powerful shots, they will have that much more effect.”

Firm focus

There has also been talk of a mega fight back in Thailand for Rodtang against Seksan Or Kwanmuang. It is a match that would instantly fill any stadium in Bangkok but Rodtang says the ONE Super Series is his main focus,

“I am still not sure the fight with Seksan will happen yet as it is close after the Haggerty fight. I won’t rule out any fights in the main stadiums in Thailand again, depending on timing, but for me my main priority now is ONE Championship.”