Thai star Shannon “OneChin” Wiratchai stands just one win away from a shot at the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
Wiratchai takes on Russia’s Rasul Yakhyaev in the co-main event of ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD in Bangkok, Thailand, in a bout expected to determine the next challenger for the title currently held by two-division ONE World Champion Martin Nguyen.
The 29-year-old says he’s keeping his focus on the job in hand, as he looks to get past the challenge of Yakhyaev on home soil, and to do so in eye-catching fashion.
“Competing in front of my hometown fans is always a great pleasure, and huge pressure at the same time,” he said.
“The only thing in my head is to make sure that I work hard and do my best, because when my hometown fans buy a ticket to see me, they are doing me an honor, and I will not disappoint them.”
Wiratchai is riding a six-bout win streak, with notable wins over the likes of Amir Khan, Peter Davis, and Kyal Linn Aung inside the ONE Championship cage.
His most recent outing should have seen him take on Australian Rob Lisita, but eventually pitted him against Rajinder Singh Meena after Lisita withdrew from the contest.
Wiratchai proved that the opponent change was no problem for him, as he finished Meena via knee KO after just 29 seconds, positioning him as one of the premier athletes in the ONE lightweight division.
“It was a bit disappointing, because I prepared for one tough martial artist, but had no chance to use what I had been training for,” he explained.
“But what I knew about Rajinder is that he never gets knocked out, so that is what I tried to do to challenge myself.
“It says a lot about how to deal with life,” he continued.
“Life is all about changing. In every change there is always an opportunity. I hate the change, but when it happens, I will take the opportunity inside and make the best out of that opportunity.”
Wiratchai now faces dangerous Russian grappler Yakhyaev, whose martial arts roots come from Brazilian jiu-jitsu and combat sambo.
“Rasul is dangerous everywhere,” the Thai admitted.
“But I think I can handle him on the feet. Chechen wrestlers are always some of the best in the world, but I have wrestled with many high-level wrestlers. I might not invite him into wrestling, but I can go for that if necessary.”
Wiratchai has been splitting time between Bangkok Fight Lab and Tiger Muay Thai & MMA in Phuket, training alongside his girlfriend Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige, who is also scheduled for action on the same card on 9 December.
“Bangkok training is great. Many great guys are around, I can go around the city and train with many high-level guys in many different aspects of the game. Also, my head coach, Lee Livingstone, is there, so I can get good advice from him all the time. Bangkok is a good place for technical development.
“But, Phuket life is more friendly for my intensive camp. I always spend at least one month before the bout at Tiger Muay Thai. I can train full-time with no traffic problems, and high-level athletes from around the world are here. I just stop my work in Bangkok, and stay focused in Phuket before the bout.”
Now, fully prepared and ready to put on a show in front of his home fans, Wiratchai says the time has come to round off 2017 in style and send him into the New Year in championship form.
“2017 is a year that I have been working very hard,” he said.
“I hope I win this match, and 2018 will be another year that I keep working hard. Not just for myself, but for Thai martial arts.”