Five MMA fighters that we want to see fight Rodtang

Rodtang Jitmuangnong (Image via Instagram @rodtang_jimungnon)
Rodtang Jitmuangnong (Image via Instagram @rodtang_jimungnon)
Atilano Diaz

Thailand's Rodtang Jitmuangnong sits atop the proverbial Muay Thai pound-for-pound rankings with a long archive of opponents in his wake. After joining ONE Super Series in 2018, his talent was on full display in front of a global audience for the first time, and almost immediately, fans were drawn to his all-action style.

Nicknamed the 'Iron Man,' Rodtang loves to trade punches in the center of the ring. He aims to prove that he is stronger and tougher than the man he's facing. He has a chin made of iron and is always willing to throw hands no matter who he's up against. As a result, there haven't been many who have been able to withstand his raw power.

That being said, the ONE Championship roster is still full of worthy opposition for Rodtang, with lots of future matchups in the realm of possibility.

The beauty of the promotion is that Rodtang also shares the stage with many of the best mixed martial artists in the world. And while the Thai superstar has expressed his intent to one day transition to MMA, he also welcomes many fighters to cross the fence over to his side.

And so, this begs the question: could any of the ONE MMA fighters hang with Rodtang in a caged Muay Thai match?

While the ruleset falls in line with Rodtang's expertise, MMA fighters will be used to the small gloves. It would be interesting to see how these fighters could hold up to Rodtang's tremendous power.

With that in mind, here are five matchups versus Rodtang we'd like to see in ONE:

#1. Rodtang vs. Demetrious Johnson (30-4-1)

Demetrious Johnson (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
Demetrious Johnson (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)

Rightfully perched atop the list is a potential matchup between Rodtang and one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts: Demetrious 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson. The American veteran made a name for himself by combining his lightning speed and world-class fight IQ with a vast martial arts repertoire. He is a 12-time UFC flyweight champion and a surefire legend in MMA.

In the past, Johnson has gone toe-to-toe with elite strikers such as Yuya Wakamatsu, Kyogi Horiguchi, and Dominick Cruz, among others. He joined ONE Championship in 2019 in a historic trade that saw former ONE welterweight champion Ben Askren shipped over to the UFC.

But make no mistake, Rodtang would be Johnson’s stiffest test to date when it comes to striking. But it’s hard to count out a guy with makeup and fighting intelligence like 'Mighty Mouse.'

Furthermore, Rodtang hinted at his openness to challenging Johnson in some capacity back in June, saying he would gladly accept a bout against the Washington native. While Johnson politely declined the offer, circumstances can change, and this evergreen idea will always be an exciting one.

#2. Rodtang vs. Adriano Moraes (19-3)

Adriano Moraes (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
Adriano Moraes (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)

If we're going to include Demetrious Johnson on this list, it's only fair that the lone man to knock out 'Mighty Mouse' is included as well. While Brazil's Adriano 'Mikinho' Moraes has made a name for himself in mixed martial arts through the use of his top-tier submission grappling, it's hard to ignore the improvements in his striking skill set.

Moraes hones his skills at American Top Team in southern Florida, working on his striking with fighters like Jorge Masvidal and Amanda Nunes.

The 32-year-old opened a lot of eyes when he connected with a spectacular uppercut followed by a knee and punches to put Johnson away back in April. It was the first time Johnson was ever stopped in his career, and the victory instantly put Moraes on a pedestal.

With what would be a noticeable height advantage over Rodtang, things could get interesting between the two athletes should they meet in the ring.

#3. Rodtang vs. Yuya Wakamatsu (14-4)

Yuya Wakamatsu
Yuya Wakamatsu (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)

Yuya Wakamatsu has had an interesting professional mixed martial arts career so far. At a young age, he gave Demetrious Johnson one of the most challenging fights of his career. The Japanese is also a knockout artist. 11 of Wakamatsu's 14 career victories have come with spectacular knockouts.

He began his martial arts journey boxing as a teenager in Kagoshima, Japan. He has honed his crisp technique and added to it over the years, implementing kicks and knees with results soon following suit. Pitting him in the ring opposite Rodtang in a small glove Muay Thai bout is guaranteed action.

Nicknamed the 'Little Piranha,' Wakamatsu is one of the best MMA strikers on the planet at 135-pounds. And at just 26-years-old, he continues to improve. With power latent in both fists, Wakamatsu is a terror in the ring. He's beaten great strikers like Geje Eustaquio and Dae Hwan Kim. But it's almost guaranteed he has never faced a striker quite like Rodtang. Nevertheless, it would be an explosive affair should the two meet in the Muay Thai ring.

#4. Rodtang vs. John Lineker (34-9)

UFC 207: Dillashaw v Lineker
UFC 207: Dillashaw v Lineker

This one would take some weight shuffling, but seeing as though Lineker has fought anywhere between 125 and 145-pounds, a catchweight bout is always in the realm of possibility.

Although Lineker's technical prowess is not his specialty, landing with otherworldly power sure is. Visualizing a caged Muay Thai bout between 'Hands of Stone' and Rodtang is exciting for several reasons.

First, Lineker has the power to put anyone away, and he’s proved it in the past. He’s explosive and aggressive, with a chin made of iron. 16 of his 20 professional MMA finishes have come via knockout, including his last two triumphs over top talent Troy Worthen and former bantamweight king Kevin Belingon, both of whom failed to make it out of the first round.

Additionally, Lineker has shown impressive durability, something he will need to lean on heavily should he meet Rodtang. Just remember, when it comes to John Lineker, it only takes one punch to secure a quick day at the office.

#5. Rodtang vs. Fabricio Andrade (5-2)

Fabricio Andrade (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
Fabricio Andrade (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)

Fabricio 'Wonder Boy' Andrade might just be the most underrated striker on the ONE Championship roster. He's young and talented, and with that youth comes immense self-confidence.

Currently ranked fourth in the 145-lbs division, Andrade burst onto the scene in his promotional debut, going toe-to-toe with Mark Abelardo, standing and trading before eventually securing a submission victory in the second round.

At the time of the fight, Andrade had accumulated just five professional bouts compared to Abelardo’s 26, putting into perspective the Brazil-native’s ability to shine against all odds. But despite the gap in experience, Andrade took out a dangerous foe and scored an emphatic victory.

In his second ONE Championship bout, Andrade showed the world how impressive his striking is, engaging in a back-and-forth war with another veteran opponent in Shoko Sato. This time, once again, Andrade gave up a significant amount of experience, competing in his seventh fight compared to Sato’s 47th.

Needless to say, being an underdog doesn’t bother Andrade, making him the perfect darkhorse for this list. A fight against Rodtang would definitely be a must-watch.

Edited by Utathya Ghosh


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