In May 2019, then-22-year-old Englishman Jonathan “The General” Haggerty had his ONE Championship sophomore appearance, when he challenged flyweight Muay Thai champion Sam-A Gaiyanghado in his first title defense. The former ISKA and WBC champion went all five rounds with Sam-A, and a new victor emerged, as Haggerty won the unanimous decision. It was a defining moment in his life. However, only three months later, his dream was dashed.
In Aug. 2019, Haggerty had his first defense against Rodtang Jitmuangnon, and Rodtang won the decision to swipe the ONE flyweight Muay Thai belt. In a bid to win it back in Jan. 2020, Rodtang defended the title, when he scored three knockdowns in the third round. Haggerty bounced back with back-to-back wins over Taiki Naito and Mongkolpetch Petchyindee, but then he ran into some issues. In May 2022 and Aug. 2022, he had back-to-back fights that got scrapped on short-notice, as Haggerty did not meet weight and hydration requirements.
“I had some sort of weight problems and hydration problems,” Haggerty told Combat Press. “I think I ended up in hospital twice, to be fair. So the main thing is that we’re here now, and we’re ready to go.
“I just had a few medical problems. I had to decide to move up a weight, which was the best thing I’ve ever done, to be honest, mate.”
After the weight issues, Haggerty had to do some soul searching, and, for his next bout, he fought Vladimir Kuzmin at ONE Fight Night 4 in Nov. 22. However, this was his first fight at bantamweight. While a majority decision is not an ideal outcome, a win is a win. And, that’s how Haggerty got past Kuzmin after three rounds.
“That was a very difficult fight, you know?” stated Haggerty. “I was just moving up to bantamweight. I got the weight sort of wrong. I didn’t really understand how my body was going to act at that weight. But, the main thing is we got in there, and I felt like it was a bit of a game of chess between me and Kuzmin. It was a bit of a clash of styles.
“It wasn’t my best performance. I’ll be honest. And, every time I stepped in, he stepped out, and the other way around. He stepped in, and I would step out. So, we got the win, and we weren’t really too happy with that performance. But, we knew we would have to make a massive performance the next fight, and that’s what we did.”
For his last fight, Haggerty got the opportunity of a lifetime, as he was offered to challenge inaugural and longtime ONE bantamweight Muay Thai champion Nong-O Hama for the belt he had already defended a whopping seven times. On Apr. 22 of this year, as a heavy +400 underdog, Haggerty shocked the world when he used his fists to score a first-round knockout.
“I mean, I didn’t expect a Round 1 knockout, “ admitted Haggerty. “I’ll be totally honest. I was adamant that I would get the stoppage. The way that I trained was so hard, you know? I was prepared, fully prepared, for Nong-O. I know it doesn’t matter, but a lot of people on the outside doubted me – a lot of comments on social media saying I shouldn’t be in there with such a great striker. But, as long as I believed in myself, my coach believed in me, my family, everyone else, that’s all it mattered, because, you know, it’s just me just getting in there. And, I was fully ready for him.
“I mean, when they put the new title out, I said to myself, ‘I definitely have to get hold of one of them new belts.’ And, it felt amazing. I didn’t realize how heavy the belt was until they wrapped it across my shoulder. But, yeah, it’s great, and I can’t wait to get another one.”
Prior to the Nong-O fight, Haggerty spent the bulk of his camp back in his stomping grounds in England. The Knowlesy Academy, which is co-owned by his coach Christian Knowles, is where he spent the first six weeks of camp, but for the last two weeks, he went to Koh Samui Lamai Fitness WMC Gym in Thailand to train with owner and head coach Ralph Beale. Beale is originally from the U.K, but is now based in Koh Samui. Haggerty has trained with Beale since he was eight years old. Lamai Fitness WMC is like a second home to him.
“And yeah, it worked,” said Haggerty of his training in Thailand. “It worked a treat, hence, why I’ve moved to Thailand now.”
In Jul. 2023, it was announced that newly-minted ONE bantamweight kickboxing king Petchtanong Petchfergus had tested positive for two anabolic steroids, and he was stripped of his title. While there were multiple options for potential contenders, ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong put together a clash of champs from different sports to challenge for the vacant title. It was later announced that Haggerty, the bantamweight Muay Thai champ, would face Fabricio Andrade, the bantamweight MMA champ for the vacant bantamweight kickboxing title. The victor will be the promotion’s next two-sport champion.
“I mean, Chatri was very creative, you know?” said Haggerty. “He wants the best fights, and a champ versus champ – MMA champ versus Muay Thai champion – it sounded great. Me and Fabricio have got a little bit of a heated stomach going on, so the build up will be great, and I’m sure the fight’s going to be even better.”
Andrade has been fighting in professional MMA since 2014, but his background and combat sports journey has largely been shaped by Muay Thai and kickboxing. When he was 13 years old, growing up in Fortaleza, Brazil, he stumbled upon a Muay Thai training and immediately got hooked. He also eventually ended up training under longtime UFC vet Hermes Franca. By Age 19, he moved to China to follow an opportunity to train in kickboxing, and by Age 21, he transitioned to Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand, where he trains today. While he is 9-2-1 in MMA, he holds is 20-3 as a pro striker, and that was amassed in just three years. Interestingly enough, both Andrade and Haggerty come from the opposite side of the world, but both have been in Thailand for this camp.
“So, I made a big move out to Thailand,” explained Haggerty. “Now I’m out in Thailand, doing my fight camp. I’ve moved out here for six months. Hopefully, I’m out here for a lot longer. My coach Christian Knowles has come out to fight camp with me – out to Thailand. So we were in full camp, and we’re just finishing off now. We’re ready to go.”
Despite the social media beef that is currently going on between Haggerty and Andrade, the Englishman understands that the Brazilian is a dangerous opponent.
“He’s a great fighter, you know, like every other ONE Championship athlete,” said The General. “They’re the best strikers in the world. Yeah, we’ve got some game plans. I like to adapt. So, when that bell goes, and we touch gloves – If we touch gloves. I’m not sure. But, when that bell goes, I’m going to adapt, to see what he brings, and just work off of that really. We know he likes to change Southpaw and orthodox. We know he’s got a good knee. We’re excited. We got some tricks up our sleeves.”
While both of these men are world-class strikers, both men will be without tools in their typical fighting toolboxes. Haggerty is used to Muay Thai rules, allowing elbows, clinches and other techniques forbidden in kickboxing. Andrade will be without those tools, as well as wrestling and jiu-jitsu. Both men are used to fighting in four-ounce gloves,but will have more weight on their hands under ONE’s kickboxing ruleset. Haggerty is just embracing the chance to become a two-sport champ..
“I, of course, I love the Muay Thai,” Haggerty elaborated. “The Muay Thai is my first love, And, I’ve been watching my training partners out here training. They’re fighting, and everybody’s throwing elbows, and I’m just there throwing punches. But it doesn’t matter, you know? I’ve got a great opportunity, and I’m very thankful for the opportunity I’ve been handed. So, I’m very dedicated. And, when it comes to the ruleset, I can adapt on the fly. I can adapt. So, I feel like I’ve got a kickboxing style a little bit anyway, so I’m excited. I’m excited.”
On Friday, Nov. 3, after an October postponement, Haggerty and Andrade will finally go to war with a huge opportunity to earn prestigious two-sport honors. The General has been on the big stage twice in ONE Championship to earn a new belt. He is ready to make history tonight live from the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
“You can expect an exciting fight,” said Haggerty. “The whole show itself is going to be amazing. The whole ONE Championship card, it’s going to be amazing. You can expect to see a new kickboxing world champion in myself. Let’s just say that.”
ONE Fight Night 16: Haggerty vs. Andrade airs live on Friday, Nov. 3, on Amazon Prime Video starting at 8 p.m. ET.
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