Stamp Fairtex, the reigning ONE Atomweight Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Champion, is surprisingly not one of those athletes. In Bangkok, she will be competing in her second-ever mixed martial arts bout against ONE newcomer Asha Roka. Stamp is obviously looking for the win, but there’s less pressure than competing in her core sports because she wouldn’t lose a title if she lost to Roka.
The next five athletes, though, have a lot on the line when they climb into the ring in Bangkok.
Petchdam Petchyindee Academy
ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Petchdam Petchyindee Academy will defend his title against the dangerous Ilias Ennahachi. Petchdam is a fan favorite because of his powerful kicks and exciting fighting style, but he is going up against a six-time Kickboxing champion. Ennahachi has the kind of length to give Petchdam problems, and he isn’t intimidated about competing in the champion’s home country.
With his title on the line, Petchdam must deliver a strong performance and he’ll need to draw some energy from his countrymen to make that happen.
“I’m feeling a little bit of pressure because I don’t want to lose in Thailand,” Petchdam said.
“It is also my first time fighting the main event, and it’s a World Title defense too. I want to ask the Thai people to come and cheer for me once again. In my last fight, the support I received from Thai people helped me win. I could hear them from the audience cheering me on – it motivated me to keep going.”
Giorgio Petrosyan wouldn’t want all his efforts in beating Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy to reach the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix semi-finals to go to waste. In Bangkok, Petrosyan has a particularly tough draw. He faces an old foe in Thailand’s Smokin’ Jo Nattawut. The two men clashed in 2018 in Petrosyan’s ONE Championship debut which he won by decision.
It’s always tough to win a rematch, and sometimes it is even more difficult for the older combatant to perform better than the first meeting. Petrosyan just competed in July, so this task becomes even more difficult. He is used to achieving a high level of success throughout his career, so anything less than a title would probably be considered a failure. The $1 million prize at stake doesn’t help ease off the pressure as well.
One of the other semifinalists is Samy Sana who is coming off a massive upset of the legendary Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex in the quarterfinals. Sana shouldn’t let his guard down against Dzhabar Askerov. Anything can happen in a kickboxing match, but after defeating Yodsanklai IWE Fairtaex, Sana is expected to win.
Few ONE newcomers are as promising and exciting as Thanh Le. His striking is dynamic and explosive which was evident in the exciting knockout win over Yusup Saadluaev in his promotional debut. In Bangkok, Le will get a step-up in competition in former champion Kotetsu Boku. Le is expected to win since Boku — albeit experienced — is no longer the man he used to be in the ring. A loss to Boku would curtail Le’s momentum.
After a successful career as an Olympian, the powerful Gustavo Balart got his mixed martial arts journey off on the right foot. He won his first six matches and entered ONE with an 8-1 record. Balart was included in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix, but lost his quarterfinal match against Tatsumitsu Wada. The match was very close, but he didn’t get the nod from the judges. Now Balart is back to take on Cambodia’s Chan Rothana.
Balart doesn’t want to see his ONE record slip to 0-2 because it would push his chances of winning the ONE Flyweight World Title away.