Cambodian Top Team’s Ren Saroth felt confident and ready throw hands when he stepped into the ONE Championship cage on 8 March in Yangon, Myanmar.
Facing the four-time Chin State Wrestling Champion “The Dragon Leg” Tial Thang, Saroth embraced the moment and went to war for three rounds, showcasing a polished game both standing and on the ground.
Unfortunately, Saroth did not manage to stop Thang’s takedowns and found himself on his back a couple of times, ultimately losing his first bout in 2019 via unanimous decision.
“I hoped I would win,” Saroth states.
“And when I heard my opponent say that he was going to finish me easily in the first round, it did not make me scared.”
“It pushed me to train harder, and I wanted to show him that he can’t beat our Cambodian MMA athletes that easily.”
“Even if he would win, I would make it tough for him.”
The opening round was mostly contested on the feet and with both competitors feeling each other out.
Despite a buzzing Thuwunna Indoor Stadium, Saroth kept calm and attentive of his corner where Cambodian Top Team leader Hun Chan Reach was present.
“In the first round, I measured my techniques against his and remembered what my coach Chan Reach had told me about approaching [Thang] carefully,” Saroth explains.
“[Thang] strikes very hard. So, I moved left and right, and only went in if I saw a good opportunity.”
A veteran Kun Khmer practitioner, Saroth felt his advantages lied in the striking department and during the 15-minute bout he managed to connect several times, but not enough to put “The Dragon Leg” to sleep.
Going into the third and final round, Saroth felt he needed to finish Thang to claim the victory, especially since he was battling a hometown favorite with massive support.
“He has so many fans there, it was unbelievable,” Saroth remembers.
When he came out to the cage, almost everyone in the audience was clapping in support!”
Still, Saroth knew that he has what it takes to take on a decorated wrestler like Thang.
“In the stand-up striking department, I think we’re very comparable,” Saroth states.
“In the third round, I noticed that his power and speed was decreasing, but the same could be said about me.”
“So, we couldn’t do much in the third round since our strengths were equally fading.”
Disappointed with the outcome of his first outing of 2019, Saroth is unsure what the future will bring for him.
He is currently taking some time off to spend time with his family and reveals it’s been tough to be separated from them while training in Bangkok.
Saroth thanks those that have supported him through his training camp in Phnom Penh and Bangkok, as well as those who cheered him on in Yangon, both live and in Cambodia.
“Thank you to all of my fans that continue to support me, even though I didn’t win. Especially my wife and family,” Saroth concludes.
“I would also like to take this moment to encourage everyone to come together and train MMA, both men, and women. In the future, we will arrange many more MMA competitions!”