Nong-O Gaiyanghadao steps back inside the ONE Championship Circle on Friday, January 20, at ONE Friday Fights 1 to defend the ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Championship. The event will mark the start of their series of events at Lumpinee Stadium and be the first time the Thai legend has competed inside the historic venue in eight years.
Challenging Nong-O will be former ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Champion Alaverdi Ramazanov. The Russian star is hoping to upend the icon of Muay Thai. Still, Nong-O is only motivated by his younger opponents pushing to knock him off the mountaintop.
“Because I’m getting older, I have to train more to stay strong. And I’m the kind of person who gets irritated If I don’t practice. So, I have to train hard to fight with younger opponents. I try to be active all the time, even during the past New Year holidays. Intensity may drop a bit, but I still went jogging to stay active every day. Never stay idle,” said Nong-O.
In the lead-up to this title defense, Nong-O was trained by Trainer Gae and sparred with Petchtanong Petchfergus and Superbon Singha Mawynn. The Thai star put full focus on being prepared for his return to Lumpinee Stadium and was treated to some of the most intense training of his career. But according to Nong-O, it will pay off on Friday.
“I practiced in the morning and evening. For this upcoming fight, I feel like it is the most intense fight camp ever in my life. And you know, Trainer Gae is the strictest coach I have ever met. He forces me to kick the pads continuously for ten rounds. I’ve heard some of his reputation as a tough trainer, but he is far tougher than I expected. But he definitely helps me improve my power. Now, I can punch and kick harder,” said the ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion.
Even though he feels stronger than ever, Nong-O recognizes the dangers of his Russian foe. Ramazanov brings a unique skill set into the Circle with him and, perhaps even more importantly, will be the bigger man. And that is where Nong-O promises to be patient.
The Thai superstar will not force the issue with Ramazanov. As he has studied film of his opponent, he will wait for the right opportunity to strike. And when he does, Nong-O wants to make it five straight knockout finishes on the global stage.
“In my opinion, every fighter in ONE is dangerous to me, especially Alaverdi Ramazanov. This guy can beat many Thai fighters. And he’s taller and longer than me. He has quick footwork. He’s one of the toughest opponents for me to fight with. My game plan for him is not to be careless. And if I can find a chance, I will finish him right away,” said Nong-O.
“I think Alaverdi will have full energy in the first and second rounds, but my game plan is to let him eat my clean and heavy shots a few times. And I’ll see how he will react, then go to the next step of my game plan.”
When speaking about his latest string of knockouts, Nong-O credits it to ONE’s four-ounce gloves. Unlike wearing the larger gloves during the earlier parts of his career, the ONE Muay Thai ruleset allows for a smaller margin of error, and his precision can be of greater use.
That is why when he steps foot back inside Lumpinee Stadium, Nong-O plans to unleash another memorable performance for his home audience.
“In ONE, we fight with smaller gloves. When I fought in Thailand, I wore big boxing gloves. So, I had to change my style to match with ONE’s rules. Since you wear small gloves, you can finish your opponent faster with the punch. So, I started to focus more to improve power in the punch and utilize them to finish the opponent apart from other weapons like kicks and elbows,” said Nong-O.
“Honestly, I’m really excited. This is the first time in eight years since my last fight at Lumpinee. And I haven’t fought in Thailand for a long time. It makes me feel a little pressure, but I’ll try my best and fight according to my game plan.”
ONE Friday Fights 1 airs live and free on watch.onefc.com, ONE’s YouTube channel, and ONE’s Facebook page on Friday, January 20, at 7:30 a.m. EST/4:30 a.m. PST.
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