Allycia Hellen Rodrigues debuted on ONE Championship’s global stage in 2020 and instantly inserted herself as the queen of the atomweight Muay Thai division by upsetting Stamp Fairtex to claim the coveted crown.
Her first defense of the gold has been delayed for some time, however, given that she stepped away from competition to become a mother right after that incredible win.
But the Brazilian striker strongly believes everything happens for a reason, and she is now ready to take on interim titleholder Janet Todd in a title unification bout at ONE Fight Night 8 on Mar. 24.
“I was at the peak of my career and had just won the belt, but we were also facing a pandemic right at the time. So, I believe that everything that has happened in my life has been at the right time. After I returned to Thailand, the restart was a bit difficult, but today there’s nothing in training that I can’t do. I didn’t need to change anything, I just needed to give it time and respect my body,” Rodrigues said.
The much-anticipated match was initially slated for Dec. 2022, until Todd tested positive for COVID-19 just days before the bell was set to ring.
Rodrigues was disappointed about the unfortunate result but is confident that the extra time has allowed her to add even more fire to her arsenal.
“I was quite sad as I was feeling more than prepared, and I was really looking forward to getting back in the ring. But it wasn’t our moment, and I always leave everything in God’s hands. It’s not Janet Todd’s fault that she tested positive [for COVID-19], and it’s clear that our health has to come first,” the 24-year-old said
“I certainly had more time to work on some things and improve others that I already felt comfortable doing. Anxiety is part of it, right? It’s been a long time since my last fight, so the desire to fight is getting stronger. And I try to put that desire more and more into each training session.”
The reigning ONE atomweight Muay Thai champion is hoping to solidify that status against the interim titleholder, but she knows Todd has all the tools necessary to make it a difficult meeting.
The much-anticipated match is bigger than just a unification bout for Rodrigues, however. It also represents her entire journey in martial arts. It’s a dream come true for her to defend her title against one of the best strikers in the game, and she wants to show out with a memorable finish.
“Janet is a dangerous fighter. She has good punches and kicks and is very fast. I think she’s a great striker, but I’m used to that kind of pressure. We’re going to fight Muay Thai, and here in Thailand we clinch a lot every day. That’s something I’m definitely going to take advantage of over her,” said Rodrigues.
“I’m going to knock her out. I believe we’ll exchange some blows in the first and second rounds, but the intention is to press from the beginning in search of the knockout.”
ONE Fight Night 8: Superlek vs. Rodtang airs live on Prime Video at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, Mar. 24. The event is free for all U.S. and Canadian Amazon Prime subscribers.