Cambodian Top Team’s Ren Saroth came up short against hometown favorite “The Dragon Leg” Tial Thang at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR on Friday, 8 March.
Competing in a 68-kilogram catchweight bout on the main card in Myanmar’s capital Yangon, Saroth challenged the promotional newcomer both standing and on the ground.
Unfortunately, the 25-year-old Kun Khmer ace was ultimately defeated when the judges awarded Thang the unanimous decision after three action-packed rounds.
Even though Saroth tasted defeat in his first outing of 2019, he was highly praised by both fans and his team.
“Saroth performance against a bigger guy showed that Cambodians aren’t pushovers anymore,” Cambodian Top Team (CTT) leader Hun Chan Reach stated.
“He fought hard against a four-time Myanmar wrestling champion and a New York state champion.”
Ahead of the main card clash, Thang predicted he would get the early stoppage while Saroth promised that he would showcase a new set of skills.
Right off the bat, Saroth displayed a grand development in his takedown defense and managed to keep most of the first round standing.
“For Saroth to defend takedowns and get right back up against a guy like Tial Thang shows how much he has improved as a mixed martial artist,” Chan Reach said.
“Saroth had some excellent exchanges standing up, but could not handle the raw power of a wrestling champion like Tial, and that made a difference in this fight.”
Looking at 2019, CTT leader Chan Reach keeps a positive mindset and doubles down that Cambodian martial arts is on the rise.
“Saroth proved he belongs in there with some of the top guys, and he deserves the recognition for his sacrifice and hard work for putting Cambodia on the world stage,” said Chan Reach.
“I’m sure Saroth surprised Tial and everyone around the world.”
Cambodia has not been able to recreate the success of mid-February where Cambodian Top Team’s Nou Srey Pov defeated Thailand’s Rika Ishige in Bangkok.
Still, “The Kingdom of Wonder” has been competing more regularly in both ONE Championship and other well-respected international organizations, and
Chan Reach sees a change in the perception of Cambodia as a martial arts nation, but hopes for more support in the future.
“We deserve to be supported and promoted like everyone else,” the CTT leader states.
“We have taken every fight that’s been offered and showed up, and we have pulled huge upsets on multiple occasions so please promote our Cambodian athletes and continue to develop our national heroes.”