“The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It is the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains in the scorching sun.”
– Napoleon Hill
Last night’s fights at ONE Kingdom of Champions in Bangkok, Thailand, certainly exemplified the growth of Asian MMA. Match after match, thousands of MMA fans watched in awe and suspense as their favorite fighters battled it out in the cage.
Homegrown heroes proved their mettle, earning the respect of the Thai audience. In a country where MMA was once shunned, fans were brought to their feet as they cheered on for the fighters, regardless of their nationality.
There was one fighter, however, who showed an unrelenting warrior spirit throughout all four rounds of his fight against SHOOTO champion Yoshitaka Naito. Multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke surrendered to Naito in the fourth round, after being submitted via rear-naked choke.
It was a fight that will forever be etched in MMA history — the decorated striker versus a submission specialist running undefeated with a 10-fight winning streak. In the first round, Dejdamrong was able to do some serious damage to Naito’s thighs and mid-section as well as stop some takedown attempts. Unfortunately, Naito’s persistent takedown attempts in the following rounds revealed to be too much for Dejdamrong. Although it was apparent that Dejdamrong was having difficulty with Naito’s grappling, this did not stop him from utilizing his Muay Thai weapons, even when he started to bleed profusely from a cut.
In the last round, Dejdamrong continued to soldier on and landed a series of brutal kicks, but Naito took him down once again. As Naito gained control over Dejdamrong and secured the rear naked choke, Dejdamrong used every last ounce of strength he had to defend the choke. Naito finished the choke, breaking hearts everywhere.
Although Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke has been dethroned, he has gained the respect and admiration of not only his countrymen, but from the rest of the MMA community. Just last year, he made history by becoming the first Thai MMA World Champion in his late 30’s: a feat that continues to amaze and inspire to this day.
With the tenacity he showed in his fight against Naito, he will surely rebound from this loss with his unbreakable warrior spirit. There’s no doubt that Dejdamrong will continue to grow and improve as he trains alongside the many World Champions of the prestigious Evolve Fight Team.