Can you really be just on the edge of greatness when you’ve won more than 100 fights in your sport? If the sport is Muay Thai, then the answer is definitely a resounding yes. The greats of the sport often have upwards of 200 victories. Some have more than 300 career bouts, and many have been at it since their age could be counted on two hands.
Saemapetch Fairtex has been competing since the age of 11. He is now north of the 100-win plateau, but he still has a way to go before he puts his name next to the sport’s true legends. He’ll take the next step on that journey at ONE Championship: Edge of Greatness, where he challenges for the league’s bantamweight Muay Thai crown.
The champion is one of those greats. Nong-O Gaiyanghadao was already in the ring when he was just 9 years old. He’s now topped the 300-fight mark, and the powerful striker already has two successful defenses of his belt. Now, Nong-O looks to turn away yet another aspiring challenger.
The two men meet in the headliner of ONE’s latest serving of Muay Thai and MMA. The supporting cast includes Ev Ting and Amir Khan in the co-main event, Tiffany Teo, Colbey Northcutt, Alex Silva, Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy and Shuya Kamikubo.
ONE’s latest event takes place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and can be seen live via pay-per-view stream on the organization’s app at 7 a.m. ET on Friday morning.
Nong-O Gaiyanghadao puts his bantamweight Muay Thai title on the line against Saemapetch Fairtex. Will Nong-O still be the titleholder when the dust settles?
Unlike past events, including the recent Age of Dragons card, this ONE Championship event puts all its eggs in one basket. The Muay Thai clash between Nong-O and Saemapetch is far and away the showcase. It’s surrounded by MMA fights that are far from headliner-worthy affairs, and the remaining Muay Thai contests are buried way down in the preliminary docket.
This does feel like a big fight, too. Nong-O is among the greats in the sport. He’s tallied more than 300 fights in his career, and he tends to win those outings a whole lot more often than he loses. He took a hiatus in 2015 and began coaching at Evolve MMA, but he returned to action when ONE diversified its offerings to include Muay Thai and kickboxing in addition to MMA. Nong-O won the belt with a decision nod over Han Zihao, and he’s gone on to defend it with victories over Hiroaki Suzuki and Brice Delval.
The 24-year-old Saemapetch, a teammate of Yodsanklai Fairtex, has half the experience as the champion, but he’s no slouch. He’s recorded over 100 career victories, and he’s claimed championships at Channel 7 Stadium and in the Muay Thai Grand Prix Welterweight World Championship.
Nong-O, a multiple-time Lumpinee Stadium champion, just squeaked out his last defense against Delval. The 20-year-old Frenchman was able to take advantage of a slow start by Nong-O to score points with the judges, and a late surge even earned him one scorecard. However, much of the fight went to Nong-O, who punished Delval’s legs and body with kicks.
It’s possible that Saemapetch, another youngster, could succeed where Delval came up short. He trains at one of the best Muay Thai camps in the world. However, he’s set to deal with a power striker who has been on a tremendous roll since even before his lengthy hiatus. It should be a fun fight, but Nong-O will indeed walk away with the strap around his waist.
So, there’s nothing of value for MMA fans here?
Let’s not go that far. This is definitely a spotlight for Muay Thai, but there are some solid MMA fights in the lineup. There just aren’t many game-changers here. It’s mainly an introduction to up-and-coming talent, with the exception of the men’s strawweight division.
Amir Khan and Ev Ting take top billing among the MMA fights, and it’s a decent clash of veterans. The card also features undefeated Troy Worthen — we’ll talk more about him later — and the promotional debut of Colbey Northcutt, the sister of UFC veteran and current ONE stable member Sage Northcutt. Tiffany Teo gets a chance to advance her title aspirations when she meets Maira Mazar, and strawweight contenders Alex Silva and Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke get what should be easy opponents to help them to re-establish their standing within the division. Shuya Kamikubo is also stashed far down the lineup in a winnable fight against Bruno Pucci.
Is it a must-see for MMA fans? Hardly. However, there’s plenty here for those who prefer MMA over kickboxing.
What about those other Muay Thai scraps? Any notable names worth the early wakeup for the prelim broadcast?
Only if you’re a hardcore fan of the sport, or if you want to see Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy in action.
Petchmorakot is set to fight Charlie Peters, whose record pales in comparison to that of the former Lumpinee Stadium champ. The 26-year-old southpaw should be able to light up his British counterpart en route to a fairly effortless victory.
The remaining Muay Thai fights primarily involve competitors who’ve had recent stumbles.
Yuta Watanabe has suffered two defeats under the ONE banner. The 29-year-old native of Japan is set to meet Tran Duy Nhat Nguyen, a Vietnamese fighter who recorded a stoppage victory over Che Wil Azwan in September. This could be a great test for Nguyen.
Liam Nolan and Brown Pinas square off in the other Muay Thai affair. Both men have struggled this year, so there’s not a high level of intrigue in this one.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
Troy Worthen and Lei Chen.
Let’s go back to Worthen, who looks like he could be the most interesting member of the MMA contingent on this fight card. The 26-year-old Floridian went 7-1 as an amateur, and he’s now perfect through five professional bouts. He’s finished three of his opponents, including the formerly undefeated Rui Chen, whom he met in his promotional debut. He’s a grappler with a collegiate wrestling background, but he’s also dangerous on the feet. Worthen earned a spot on the Evolve Fight Team following an open tryout a year ago.
Lei Chen sports a 6-1 mark. The 30-year-old has spent much of his career with the organization. His only loss came in a 2018 match-up with Muhammad Aiman. The Chinese fighter had not seen the final bell until his most recent fight, a June win over Anthony Engelen. He tends to score knockouts.
This is a battle of two finishers who have yet to join the upper echelon of ONE’s bantamweight division. Worthen could make a big statement with a submission of Chen in this one.
Muay Thai (BW Championship): Nong-O Gaiyanghadao vs. Saemapetch Fairtex
MMA (LW): Amir Khan vs. Ev Ting
MMA (BW): Troy Worthen vs. Chen Lei
MMA (LW): Rahul Raju vs. Ahmed Mujtaba
MMA (StrawW): Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke vs. Muhammad Imran
Women’s StrawW: Tiffany Teo vs. Maira Mazar
Women’s FlyW: Colbey Northcutt vs. Putri Padmi
StrawW: Alex Silva vs. Peng Xue Wen
Muay Thai (FW): Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy vs. Charlie Peters
Muay Thai (FlyW): Tran Duy Nhat Nguyen vs. Yuta Watanabe
BW: Bruno Pucci vs. Shuya Kamikubo
Muay Thai (FW): Brown Pinas vs. Liam Nolan
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