Cambodian Top Team (CTT) star pupil Ren Saroth is dedicated to his craft and will go to great lengths to achieve his goal, even if it means leaving his family and home country to prepare ahead of his next ONE Championship bout.
The Phnom Penh based 25-year-old is set to take on the protegé of ONE Middleweight & Light Heavyweight World Champion Aung La N Sang, promotional newcomer Tial “The Dragon Leg” Thang at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR on Friday, 8 March.
The 68-kilogram catchweight bout will prove if Thang has what it takes to hang with an experienced competitor, and for Saroth it will be the perfect platform to showcase how much he has developed since his last outing.
Since mid-February, Ren Saroth has been in full training camp at Yorky Mixed Martial Arts in Bangkok, led by former ONE Championship athlete-turned-coach Nicholas “JJ” Lee.
“The first time we crossed paths was for [Saroth’s] last fight in Bangkok,” Lee explains.
“I spent a few days working out with him before the fight, and we instantly had a great connection going.”
Lee works daily with top-level athletes like ONE Warrior Series breakout star Rockie Bactol and sees Saroth as a one-of-a-kind athlete that is heading for martial arts greatness.
“He’s extremely talented, very humble, dedicated, and hard-working,” Lee shares.
“He almost learns too fast. He’s also very athletic and powerful. I cannot say enough good things about him.”
“It’s hard to explain, but I see the ‘IT-factor’ in him, something very special.”
When asked about 2019, the Yorky Mixed Martial Arts leader reveals that he plans to invest more time in the local scene in Cambodia, spending a couple of months spread out over the year.
Lee says he sees great potential in the growth of Cambodian mixed martial arts, something that another one of his students recently showcased in spectacular fashion.
Both Lee and Ren Saroth were present at ONE: CLASH OF LEGENDS when Nou Srey Pov defeated the home town favorite Rika Ishige.
In the future, “JJ” hopes that his Cambodian athletes won’t have to go to Thailand to prepare for their upcoming bouts.
“Over here, Saroth has full-time professional athletes that also compete in ONE Championship and other major organizations,” Nicholas Lee explains.
“In Phnom Penh, it’s harder because MMA is still growing little by little, so Saroth isn’t able to get high-level training partners over there.”
“[The local scene] is growing, but it’s not there yet.”
Looking at Saroth’s next opponent, Lee feels that Saroth has a plethora of advantages.
“Cardio, dexterity, speed, and elbows,” Nicholas Lee states.
“It’s no secret that Tial Thang will try to take him down, and [he] knows we’ve been working on our takedown-defense.”
“It’s another classic striker-vs-grappler match-up.”
Confident in Saroth’s preparation, Lee looks forward to working the corner at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR on Friday, 8 March, together with CTT leader Hun Chan Reach.
“We have a good thing going on!”