Sam-A Gaiyanghadao will be defending his strawweight Muay Thai World title against Australia’s Josh Tonna in the main event of ONE: ‘Reign of Dynasties’. The event is set for Singapore on Friday and the Thai will be looking for his third win since dropping down in weight..

Sam-A has been on a roll since losing the flyweight Muay Thai title to Jonathan Haggerty last year. He has beaten Daren Rolland and Wang Junguang, earning the promotion’s strawweight kickboxing and Muay Thai belts in the process.

He will be defending the latter title for the first time on Friday and says the division suits him,

“It was definitely better for me to move down to strawweight, I have to cut some weight still to make the weight but I felt at much less of a disadvantage than when fighting at flyweight.”

Unfamiliar ruleset

He had very little kickboxing experience prior to the title fight with Junguang at ONE: ‘Mark of Greatness’ last December. Sam-A says the unfamiliar ruleset took a little getting used to,

“It was a great feeling to get the win in that fight and get another title. It was a little tough though as I didn’t feel as comfortable under kickboxing rules, without being able to use my elbows and the timing and rhythm is different. I also felt tired in the later rounds of the fight as I hadn’t fought five rounds in seven months.”

In February he added a second strap by beating Rocky Ogden by decision at ONE: ‘King of the Jungle’. Sam-A admits it was a relief to be back competing under Muay Thai rules again,

“I was very happy to get the win, I never thought I would be able to hold both the titles at the same time. Rocky was a strong, tough young opponent and he has a very good Muay Thai style, having spent a lot of time in Thailand training and fighting and training with John Wayne Parr. It was a more comfortable fight for me than the kickboxing title win as I was in better shape having coming off the kickboxing five round fight just two months before and also I felt better being able to use all my weapons and Rocky’s Muay Thai style made it easier too.”

Tough fight

Sam-A is no stranger to his latest opponent having watched many of Josh’s fights before and knows he will be in for a tough fight,

“I have seen a lot of his fights, he is very strong and has a nice Thai style of fighting and always looks calm and controlled when he fights. I think it will be a harder fight than my last one as I don’t think he will be as reckless and will be harder to outsmart.”

Sam-A spoke of his readiness and what to expect from him on the night.

“I will be 100% ready for this fight, I can’t wait to get back in the ring again. I will just fight my usual fight, not wild or rushed, I will be looking to use my timing and speed and looking for the openings when they arise.”

Good shape

Sam-A also spoke a little of the hardships he has faced being so far away from his family during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It has been a little hard for me and my family. I have been worried about my wife and two daughters back home in Buriram. I haven’t been home for almost a year now after the pandemic came along. I worry about how they are as I cannot get back to help them easily and was originally worried that there may be a lot of cases in Buriram, my wife has been the same, worried about me being here in Singapore so we have kept in touch all the time.”

Fortunately for Sam-A he lives with some of the best Muay Thai fighters and trainers outside of Thailand. Being stuck inside with Nontachai Sit-O, Saketdao Petpayathai and Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke has had its advantages,

“I have kept in good shape all the time and we managed to keep active by teaching Muay Thai online with virtual classes and I stay with Nonthachai, my trainer, who could hold pads for me. I also stay with Saketdao and Dejdamrong so we were able to keep in shape. I will be more than ready on the night to defend my title.”