Few deserve a vacation more than Kun Khmer expert and ONE Championship star Chan Rothana.
Last December at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS, the Cambodian flyweight made his long-awaited return to the world’s largest martial organization after being away from mixed martial arts competition for over a year and a half.
In front of the roaring Kuala Lumpur crowd in the Axiata Arena, Rothana took home arguably the most impressive victory of his career.
He clashed with previously unbeaten Indonesian Abro “The Black Komodo” Fernandes, and both competitors battled at a relentless pace.
“I knew he was good, and that he had seven straight wins and was the champion of his country, but I did not worry too much,” the 32-year-old Cambodian says.
“The only thing that concerned me a bit was his weight, and the power in his hands and legs.
“But after the first round, I felt I had his power measured. After that, I did not worry about anything, and I was just having fun!”
The flyweight showdown would end in the latter part of the second round.
Rothana scrambled out of a deep submission attempt, continued to pressure a visibly fatigued Fernandes, and ultimately, he dropped the “The Black Komodo” with a knee. He followed with a barrage of strikes until the referee stopped the contest.
The Selapak gym leader’s triumphant victory in Kuala Lumpur sent a shockwave of awe towards both him and promotional debutant Sovannahry Em, who also managed to finish her opponent in splendid fashion.
Even though it was a beautiful evening for Khmer martial arts, the stoic Rothana was already looking ahead.
“I was also very happy, but I have had this feeling many times already. This is a process, and one of many steps toward my goal,” he explains.
“I knew right away that this was a great achievement, but I also know there are many more to go.”
Rothana proved that yet again when he stepped into the ring a mere 22 days after his mixed martial arts bout with Fernandes — except this time, it was for a Kun Khmer bout in front of his home crowd in Phnom Penh.
“It was easy since I had been training for two months ahead of my ONE fight,” he recalls.
“After [the match in Kuala Lumpur], I took a couple of days to rest, and then I continued to prepare for my Kun Khmer fight with ease.”
The Cambodian claimed another finish on Saturday, 29 December, and he took a well-deserved break from competition after that.
Rothana took his wife and two daughters to the islands of Koh Rong, but his mind never wandered off.
“I spent four days at Koh Rong, and that was enough for me,” he explains.
“One factor that I continuously remind myself of is that I’m getting older.
“I don’t know if I can continue [fighting] for three or four more years, so I won’t let my time slip. I will do whatever it takes to make the best use of the momentum I have built up.”
Keeping up with his vigorous training routine, Rothana has not gained an ounce of fat on his body, and he wants both his fans and ONE Championship to know that he is ready for his next challenge.
“The fact that I’m able to represent Cambodia is thrilling to me,” he adds.
“I would love to fight in either Tokyo or Manila. I’ve never been to Tokyo, so I really want to go there. But whoever ONE wants me to fight, I’ll fight. Since I’m representing Cambodia, I will make sure I bring many victories back to my country.”