Despite being highly regarded as one of Cambodia’s most prominent mixed martial artist, Ren Saroth has not been able to get the results he has aspired to.
On Friday, 8 March, he represented Cambodia at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR in Yangon, Myanmar.
Even though he put on an impressive performance and showcased an improved skill set, he was ultimately defeated by the hometown favorite “The Dragon Leg” Tial Thang on the judge’s scorecards.
Honoring a promised made to his wife and family, Saroth says he will now take a step back and re-evaluate his next step in his mixed martial arts career.
“Before leaving for Thailand to train, I asked my wife if she was okay with it,” Saroth begins to explain.
“This was during Valentine’s Day, and she did not want me to go, but we made a deal.”
“I promised that I would train hard and do my best, and if I did not come home with the victory, I would suspend my career for a while.”
“After promising her that, she gave me my full support and encouragement,” Saroth continues.
“She said to me: ‘if you want to continue competing, you will have to train very very hard in Thailand and make sure you win!”
Praised by both teammates and coaches for his training regime and natural talent, Saroth has now lost two ONE Championship bouts in a row after finishing Mario Satya Wirawan via elbows in mid-2018.
Even though he receives praise and support from his fans, Saroth admits he is burdened by the lack of success in international competitions.
” I feel I could have done better for my fans,” he states.
“I represent Cambodia [in ONE Championship], and I have lost so many times. I feel ashamed of myself, even though my fans still support me and don’t criticize me at all.”
Prior to his bout with Thang in Myanmar, Saroth spent a couple of weeks in Bangkok with Yorky Mixed Martial Arts, training under the tutelage of former ONE Championship athlete Nicholas “JJ” Lee.
In the well-respected Bangkok gym, Saroth got the opportunity to regularly train with professional mixed martial artists, something that played a crucial part in his development ahead of his Myanmar bout.
Cambodian martial arts has seen a rise in popularity, but Saroth acknowledges a couple of obstacles that are holding “The Kingdom of Wonder” back from reaching a higher level.
“There are not many MMA fighters in Cambodia, so it’s complicated to find training partners to practice with,” Saroth states.
“The quality is still not top-level yet.”
Honoring his promise, Saroth is still unsure what lies in the future but asserts he will continue training vigorously as before and that he still feels passionate about mixed martial arts.
“My wife and parents, they understand that it’s my passion and what I love,” he concludes.
“I will step back from the sport for a while, and then we will see.”