This Friday, February 28, ONE Championship returns to Singapore with two exciting Muay Thai and Kickboxing Championship bouts, and a mix of intriguing MMA matchups, featuring the likes of lightweight standout Amir Khan and the debut of YouTuber Jeff Chan.
In the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak, CEO Chatri Sityodtong opted to keep the show moving, however, it will be behind closed doors. The event will be streamed on all digital platforms, including YouTube and the ONE Championship app.
In the main event, ONE Championship’s atomweight Kickboxing champion Stamp Fairtex will defend her title for the first time since claiming it when she battles American Janet Todd. The 22-year-old is not only the promotion’s Kickboxing champion but a Muay Thai champion, as well. Stamp is also undefeated in MMA with four wins and no defeats.
The co-main event, which pits strawweight Muay Thai icon Sam-A Gaiyanghadao against Australian prospect Rocky Ogden, has each and every ingredient for an entertaining battle. The winner of the co-main event will earn the vacant strawweight title.
Ogden spoke with John Hyon Ko about his upcoming title bout on February 28, and why he believes he’ll walk away with the ONE Strawweight Muay Thai World Championship.
Prepared for anything
On February 28 at ONE: King of the Jungle, the young Aussie will face his most jarring test to date when he takes on 400+ fight veteran Sam-A Gaiyanghadao, a legend of the Muay Thai world.
“I’ve been working hard every day, twice a day, just trying to get my body super strong and super fit to be prepared for anything when fighting Sam-A,” Ogden told John Hyon Ko.
Despite obviously lacking experience when compared to his upcoming adversary, Ogden believes his youth and lack of wear-and-tear on his body will make all the difference. In addition to this, the 20-year-old has vast knowledge when it comes to fighting Thai’s, as he lived and trained in Thailand years ago.
“I’ve had a few different Thai trainers, but the main place that helped me a lot was Sangtiennoi Sor Rungroj,” Ogden said.
“He’s a legend, he’s a southpaw and he was actually training and fighting when John Wayne Parr was in Thailand. But they’ve just been in the sport forever, he had a really hard traditional old school Thai fight style so it was the same thing. Every day in a little Thai camp in the country, where there were chickens and pigs running around – it was crazy.
“I definitely think my youth is going to help a lot, even he accepts that fact. Not underestimating him or anything, but everyone gets old and it definitely takes a toll on your body. So that’s why I’ve been training super hard, I think if I can use my youth, be active and just keep that pressure and not give him you know, not back whenever he does.
“I think he thinks me being young and not having as much experience means I might back down when he gives me something. Well, I’m not going to back down. Whatever he gives me I’m going to give back twice as hard and twice as much.”
Sam-A is unquestionably one of the more formidable and menacing fighters currently lacing up a pair of Muay Thai gloves, and for this reason, many are doubting Ogden’s chances of winning in Singapore.
Ogden believes many of his opponents backed down while in the ring, focusing too much on what Sam-A has to offer instead of concentrating on unloading their own skillsets. A fine example of this is the Thai’s 2018 bout with Joseph Lasiri. Sam-A was able to bully his opponent, and literally lift him off the ground with a straight left to seal a second-round TKO finish.
“He is always very sharp when he fights, but I think some of his opponents made a mistake with fear. I think a lot of them are throwing not confidently; they haven’t had that experience in Thailand where Thai’s are playing with them, or what the Thai’s are thinking at the same time when they’re going backward or forwards. That’s why when you see a couple of the guys that have beaten him have fought good – because they’ve been confident and they’ve gone and had it a go.
“I want to go in there and just dominate. But in a fight, anything can happen, so I’ve just got to be sharp and do what we’ve been training.”
Ogden trains out of Boonchu Gym in Queensland Australia, which is owned and operated by recently retired Muay Thai great John Wayne Parr, who was not only a pioneer of the sport in his nation but a worldwide superstar and inspiration.
Having someone in your corner with the experience and wisdom of Wayne Parr is a huge advantage, and will do nothing but a world of good for Rocky Ogden.
“I think having new techniques and sharpening on the tools Wayne’s been doing with me is going to help me a lot. So I think we’ve got a good chance and we can do it,” Ogden said.
ONE Championship’s decision to run the show behind closed doors will not only affect the promotion financially but its fighters also.
Every individual on the card will be competing in front of no audience — just an empty arena, besides a referee, officials, and cornermen. This incredibly unique and bizarre series of events will be new to both Sam-A and Rocky Ogden, who will be unable to lean on the crowd for support throughout their encounter.
“It’s definitely going to be weird fighting my biggest fight to date against a machine, a good fighter, with just no one in the crowd,” Ogden said.
“But the goal is still the belt, its the same achievement if you win. So just got to block that out and give it my best. Definitely wished there was a big crowd there for the memories, but what can you do?”
Ogden currently fights at 115 pounds (52 kg) which is light considering that he is just 20-years-old. His body has yet to finish growing, and that means a step up in weight may take place in the coming years.
When asked about going up in weight, the Aussie stated that he’d definitely like to make a move in the future, but that depends on what opportunities present themselves.
“I definitely don’t want to stay this light,” Ogden said. “My body’s ok so I can go up and down pretty easily, and I’ve made weight very easy for this fight, so I might stay for a bit and see what happens, if I do good, you know what I mean?
“Once I grow I’d like to get bigger and have some opportunities that can open up with different sizes, different weights. But yeah, let’s just see how my body changes.”
Due to the fact he’s been competing for years, Ogden’s style has changed and developed as he has garnered experience from fights and in the gym. Since his first fight at the age of 17, he believes that he is much more patient and technical now as the years have gone by.
“When I was 17, I would just get in there and have a go. I was still fun and technical but lack of experience and just fighting with heart a lot of the time, and a lot of the punches I’d land didn’t knock them out. I still stopped a lot of people when I was at that age, but it’s different now, I think I got my mind – everything is better, a lot better. I am definitely stronger and hitting harder.”
“If I hit Sam-A flush, I can put him down and have an early night.”