Mixed martial arts started out as a battle between fighters from different disciplines to see which fighting style was the best. As the years progressed, fighters started to cross-train in different fighting disciplines. Then, as the sport continued to evolve, MMA athletes became true mixed martial artists, training across all disciplines to ensure they had the edge, wherever the fight went.
The recent ONE Championship event in Singapore, ONE X, gave a nod to the days of the past when they pitted two world champion athletes from different fighting disciplines against one another in a special mixed rules bout.
Former UFC flyweight champion and ONE flyweight grand prix champion Demetrious Johnson faced off against ONE flyweight Muay Thai world champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon in a bout designed to put both men to the ultimate test.
A four-round bout structure was agreed, with each round lasting three minutes. With the fighters wearing four-ounce MMA gloves, Rounds 1 and 3 were to be contested under Muay Thai rules, with Rounds 2 and 4 set to be fought under ONE’s global MMA ruleset.
It meant that Johnson, universally regarded as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time, had to run the gauntlet of three minutes of Muay Thai against one of the best Thai fighters on the planet. If he could survive, the momentum would swing and Rodtang would face the toughest test of his career as he attempts to survive three minutes of full MMA competition.
It was a matchup that captured the imagination of fight fans across the world as two of the most skilled fighters on the planet mutually agreed to step outside of their respective comfort zones to entertain the fans in a special bout in Singapore. The action didn’t disappoint.
Rodtang came flying out of his corner in Round 1 and immediately set to work on pushing the pace on “Mighty Mouse” as he unloaded heavy kicks and snappy punches on the MMA superstar. But, rather than spend the round looking to keep out of trouble, Johnson bit down on his mouthpiece and fought fire with fire, and repeatedly found a home on Rodtang’s chin. However, the Thai ace’s ability to take a punch is legendary, and he ate all of Johnson’s shots with barely a flinch as he continued to push forward in search of a first-round finish.
That finish didn’t come, however, and Round 2 saw the bout jump into Johnson’s realm, as “Mighty Mouse” cut off the cage, took Rodtang to the mat and promptly rendered him unconscious with a rear-naked choke. Rodtang, despite finding himself trapped in an inescapable situation against one of the greatest of all time, still didn’t tap and instead opted to go out on his shield.
After the bout, the two men embraced in a show of respect, before Rodtang raised Johnson’s hand to acknowledge the American’s victory. As a spectacle, it delivered, and it showed just what could be possible if more of ONE’s elite-level athletes opted to follow in their footsteps.
It was one of the biggest success stories of a huge event at ONE X, and might just open the door to more similar matches in the future. Watch this space!
Recap the whole fight via the video player below…