ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang "The Iron Man" Jitmuangnon has been waiting months to defend his gold against a formidable foe.
Now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in the World Champion's home country of Thailand, he will get what he's been waiting for on Friday, 31 July, at ONE: NO SURRENDER in Bangkok, Thailand.
Rodtang will defend his belt against former ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Champion Petchdam "The Baby Shark" Petchyindee Academy in the main event, and the man from Pattalung cannot wait to let the 4-ounce gloves fly in their ONE Super Series duel.
"The fans have been waiting for Muay Thai competitions to come back, and now, ONE Championship has announced a huge and amazing fight card. Everyone wants to watch," the 22-year-old said.
"We, as fighters, have to give our [best] performances. We are getting paid well, so we have to deliver. It's our jobs, and the most important thing is we have to win our fans' hearts."
Rodtang, however, will have to win more than just the fans' hearts. He will have to win a rubber match against a man who he has gone to war with twice already at the famed Rajadamnern Stadium.
"When I lost against him in the first fight, I had just come back to Bangkok after a break," Rodtang said.
"I fought with Kaimukkao [Por.Thairongruangkamai] at 131 pounds, and then my next fight was with Petchdam at 126 pounds. The weight cut was difficult, and my body was not stable yet. I had no power in the last rounds. That's why I lost."
Rodtang rallied strong in their second encounter and evened the score against "The Baby Shark" with a unanimous decision victory, making it one win apiece.
"In the second fight, I had full power," he said. "I continued to fight and kept moving. Petchdam lost against me very clearly and showed weaknesses."
Before ONE's matchmakers informed Rodtang about his upcoming World Title defense, the Thai was keeping busy at the same Pattaya training camp that his girlfriend – ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Champion Stamp Fairtex – calls home.
"I trained at Fairtex for a couple of months, both mixed martial arts and Muay Thai," he said. "My body is 100 percent now. Sia Banjong (Founder and Chairman of Fairtex) comes to look and check on me. He thinks I can be a role model for others."
However, once he did find out about his match against the former ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Champion, the Jitmuangnon representative made a promise that his reputation will surely uphold.
"Petchdam lost by knockout when he defended his kickboxing title, and he tried to build his confidence back by winning his last fight in ONE. I don't have anything to worry about, and I think this fight will be fun," Rodtang continued.
"If there is one thing I worry about, it's if he will go backward and not stand toe-to-toe. He might just wait and kick. I want this fight to be crazy, or I want this fight to be the 'Fight Of The Night.' If he just wants to win by collecting points, then I will do things my way by going forward and chasing him."
ONE returns to action with ONE: NO SURRENDER, a closed-door, audience-free show set for Friday, 31 July, in Bangkok, Thailand. Catch the action for free by downloading the ONE Super App.