Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke is desperate to propel himself back into world championship status once more.
The Thai legend (8-2) is riding a two-bout win streak, and is looking to complete a hat-trick of victories when he returns to his homeland to face Riku “The Outsider” Shibuya (13-4-2) at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD in Bangkok on 9 December.
“He is a very good opponent, but I am extremely ready for him,” Amnuaysirichoke states.
“I have been training very hard to get ready, and come event night, I am looking forward to facing him in the cage.”
The 39-year-old former Muay Thai superstar claimed three Lumpinee Muay Thai world championships, before switching to the cage and winning his first six bouts for ONE Championship.
The fifth of those contests saw him claim the ONE Strawweight World Title, as he became a two-sport world champion, and a national hero in Thailand.
After losing back to back contests to Yoshitaka Naito and Joshua Pacio, losing the world title to the former, Amnuaysirichoke has gone back to square one, as he looks to reignite his career and make another run towards the gold.
He’s rebounded well so far, with back-to-back TKO wins over Adrian Matheis and Robin Catalan kick-starting Amnuaysirichoke’s momentum once again.
“Obviously, I feel some pressure when I lose,” he said.
“It is very disappointing for me, but it helps drive me, and motivates me to do better in my next match.
“For those matches [against Naito and Pacio], I prepared the best I could, and did my best. It is one of those situations where it just was not my night. That is how it goes. As a martial artist, you win some and you lose some.”
Those two losses both came on home soil in Thailand. They were Amnuaysirichoke’s first martial arts bouts in his homeland since his days in Muay Thai, and he’s still looking for his maiden win in the cage in his own country.
“Whenever I compete in Thailand, I get amazing support,” he said.
“I really feel uplifted by the energy the crowd gives me. I am so very proud to be representing the country of Thailand, and I always do my best when I am in the cage to make the Thai people proud.
“Getting a win in Thailand is something that I am really looking forward to doing, and something that will be very special for me.
“Outside of Thailand in ONE Championship, I have won all my matches, so I am very excited to come back home, put on a great performance for the fans, and come away with a win.”
Amnuaysirichoke faces a stiff test in Shibuya, who went unbeaten for five years before losing to ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes in March 2015.
If he can defeat the 32-year-old Japanese veteran, Amnuaysirichoke will move one big step closer to his dream of recapturing the ONE Strawweight World Title.
If he earns a future title shot, there’s a chance he may have to face off against one of his own teammates, with Evolve MMA’s Alex ‘Little Rock’ Silva set to challenge for the belt next.
It may present an awkward situation further down the line, but for now, Amnuaysirichoke is more than happy to help his teammate prepare for the title bout, and says he sees Silva’s challenge as an extension of his own desire to get the belt back.
“Currently the title match is being contested by my good friend and teammate Alex Silva, so when it comes to this title match, I am fully supporting Alex,” he said.
“When he steps into the cage to compete for that title, I feel as if it is myself in there with him in the cage. I am really looking forward to that match, and have full faith and confidence that my teammate can come out victorious.
“In terms of myself, I always have the aim and the goal of getting the title back and becoming champion once again. For now, it is my teammate Alex’s turn, and I am extremely happy and rooting for him.”