Superlek Kiatmoo9 and Rodtang Jitmuangnon have been on a collision course in ONE Championship for some time now. However, nobody really knew if it would be in kickboxing or Muay Thai.
After all, the former is king in the promotion’s kickboxing division and the top-ranked contender in Muay Thai, and the latter has the exact opposite standing.
At ONE Fight Night 8 on Prime Video on Mar. 24, the rivalry will have its first showdown when Superlek defends the ONE flyweight kickboxing championship against “The Iron Man.”
Heading into what he sees as an inevitable meeting, “The Kicking Machine” says he is satisfied with being the first to put his strap on the line.
“I’m happier than disappointed. I’m a champion, and defending my throne is my job. I can fight him as the [kickboxing] titleholder or as a [Muay Thai] contender. But honestly, I wonder why I didn’t have the chance to challenge him first, because I am a champ right now,” Superlek said.
“If I could choose, I would fight him in Muay Thai first. But it’s fine for me. I am just focusing on defending my kickboxing gold. Muay Thai is another story for another time.”
The flyweight kickboxing king believes this will be a tougher matchup than if they were to tussle in Muay Thai. He recognizes and compliments Rodtang’s skills but claims that he is more suited to kickboxing than the “art of eight limbs.”
Regardless of what he brings to the Circle, however, Superlek believes he can exploit one of Rodtang biggest weakneses when they square off next week.
“Rodtang’s strength is his aggressive style. He has a dangerous left hook, low punch, and leg kick. I think his style is more compatible with kickboxing rules than Muay Thai. However, his weakness is his emotions, and emotions somehow affect his performance. His attacks get weaker when he gets upset,” he said.
The 27-year-old star feels confident he holds the edge in that department, and it will be helped by the height and reach advantage he hold over the flyweight Muay Thai kingpin.
He also sees Rodtang as predictable and thinks he’ll be able to read and respond to his movement before any threat emerges. “The Iron Man’s” power could also be amplified by wearing eight-ounce gloves instead of four-ounce gloves, as worn in Muay Thai, but that isn’t a worry for Superlek.
“I don’t think [having bigger gloves] is a factor. He wore eight-ounce gloves when he fought Muay Thai [before joining ONE]. I think it won’t affect him at all. For me, at first, I was concerned about wearing gloves that I’m not used to, but now small gloves are second nature. They are just like traditional gloves but smaller and with open fingers,” he said.
“The Kicking Machine” knows his foe will be the aggressor. That is what he is known for, after all and what has made him one of the most dominant superstars in all of martial arts. To combat this, Superlek says he will be patient and measured when applying pressure in their World Title tussle.
Win or lose, this will not be the last time we see the two compete against each other in ONE. But with a win, the defending champion expects to be able to call his shot.
“Scoring a victory over him will be a lifelong honor. It would make me proud to beat a superstar who everyone wants to fight. And yes, after I beat him in this fight, I want to challenge Rodtang for the ONE flyweight Muay Thai world title next,” Superlek said.
“Fans have been waiting so long to see us fight. I will give it my all. It doesn’t matter who wins. But we both will give our best performances because it’s our duty. After [we are done in] the Circle, we will walk out and be friends again. Nothing personal.”
ONE Fight Night 8 airs at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, Mar. 24, from the Singapore Indoor Stadium. The action is free on Prime Video for all U.S. and Canadian Amazon Prime subscribers.