Demetrious Johnson faced Rodtang Jitmuangnon in an insane battle at ONE X and learned firsthand just how tough the Thai fighter really is in the circle. However, it was a backstage interaction that really proved why Rodtang is so resilient.
During an interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Johnson shared that he was able to interact with his opponent after they fought and got his thoughts on their match.
Demetrious Johnson said:
"I said 'Rodtang, when I hit you, did it hurt?' And he goes, 'Nah.' And then I go, 'Did I hit as hard as all the other people you fight?' And he goes, ‘it’s all the same.'"
During their bout at ONE X, Johnson stood toe-to-toe against Rodtang in the Muay Thai round and was able to land some clean shots to the Thai warrior’s face. However, he seemed unfazed and ate the shots as if they were nothing, proving why he is called ‘The Iron Man’.
Even if Johnson’s punches didn’t affect Rodtang as much as he wanted to, the American can at least take solace in the fact that not a lot of punches can really hurt the Muay Thai legend.
Rodtang Jitmuangnon chose to sleep rather than tap to Demetrious Johnson
During the opening Muay Thai round, it was expected that Rodtang would dominate Johnson with his striking. However, ‘Mighty Mouse’ surprisingly put up a good fight and landed hard counters on the aggressive Rodtang. The Thai warrior managed to push forward despite every big shot that Johnson threw at him.
The next round featured MMA rules, and Rodtang was noticeably more cautious in his movements while trying to emulate Johnson’s counters. Unfortunately, the MMA great found a way to slither to his back and lock him up in a rear-naked choke.
The ONE flyweight Muay Thai world champion endured the choke and refused to tap out to it. The referee had to stop the fight after it was clear that Rodtang had gone to sleep from the rear-naked choke, awarding the win to Johnson.
After the bout, Rodtang waited for Johnson to finish his post-fight interview to raise Demetrious Johnson’s hand in victory with a smile on his face. Once he stepped out of the circle, though, he did not shy away from hiding his emotions about losing the fight and broke down on ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong’s shoulder.
It takes a certain kind of toughness to be able to take that kind of physicality and another to be able to suppress emotions when needed and not be afraid to pour it out when it gets overwhelming. Rodtang displayed both that night.