Cambodians Represent at ONE in Bangkok
A duo of Cambodian combatants will represent the Kingdom in this evening’s much-anticipated ONE: Kingdom of Champions event at Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand in a chapter which marks the first foray for Asia’s largest Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotion into the spiritual home of Southeast Asian Martial Arts.
Kev Hemmorlor, fighting out of Selapak Gym in Phnom Penh, has been matched against Kritsad ‘Dream Man’ Konsrichai, while compatriot and Team Phnom Penh MMA fighter Khon Sichan will test his mettle against veteran Thai fighter Yodsanan Sityodtong.
Hailing from Kandal province, Hemmorlor was forced to drop out of school in grade 12 to help provide for his large family of five brothers and six sisters.
Despite toiling in the construction sector for several years, the 27-year-old continued to train in the Cambodian discipline of Kun Khmer in his hometown of Takeo City and test his skills on weekends.
In 2012, Hemmorlor took the plunge to dedicate himself to his calling and spent 12 months learning under the tutelage of esteemed Yutakhun Khom Grand Master Chan Bunthoeun, father of fellow ONE fighter Chan Rothana.
After Rothana opened Selapak gym in 2013, Hemmorlor joined the famed Phnom Penh fight academy in the role of assistant coach, all while studying for a university degree in Khmer Literature.
Weighing in at 56 kilograms and 166 cm in height, he has been labeled by fight critics as a high-level striker and lethal in close combat, and is expected to provide a staunch challenge for Konsrichai.
Dubbed the ‘Dream Man’, Konsrichai has built up an impressive pedigree on the MMA circuit, known as a wrestling specialist, and trains under the expertise of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran Tommy Hayden. However, Cambodian fans will hope for a repeat of the Thai’s last encounter with a Cambodian competitor – his defeat to American-born Ki Chong Tran in August of 2014.
Speaking to Khmer Times on the eve of the bout, Hemmorlor’s manager, Benoit Rigallaud, was eager to stress the hard work that had gone in to pre-fight preparation.
“Kev is ready and for sure he is in the best condition he had ever been in his fight career. He has been training hard for the last eight weeks and in Phnom Penh he has had good quality training in MMA, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), Cuban Boxing and physical conditioning thanks to Selapak coaches,” he said
The foundation Fight For Cambodia supported Kev during his stay at Tiger Muay Thai training camp in Phuket, Thailand – regarded as one of the best facilities of its kind in the world,” said the Frenchman.
“We have been screening ‘Dream Man’ Konsrichai for the last six weeks and he is an impressive opponent with an all-round the game. But Kev will give him hard time in all
aspects of the fight and certainly some Khmer specialties,” he added.
Sichan Looking for Redemption
While it is the first outing on a ONE fightcard for Hemmorlor, his compatriot Sichan will return to familiar territory, having last featured at December 2015’s ONE: Kingdom of Khmer showpiece in Phnom Penh. Sichan was swiftly dispatched by Sim Bunsrun via armlock in the first round – a result the flyweight will hope to avoid against the vastly more experienced Sityodtong.
His Thai opponent, a 41-year-old decorated former WBA Boxing champ, made his professional debut against Daniel Mashamaite at ONE: Champion vs. Champion at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in 2011, winning via knockout in the second round after connecting with a flying knee to the face of his opponent, a South African Muay Thai champion.
After the pullout of Chrech Kosal, who was previously expected to face Sityodtong on Friday’s card, Sichan was drafted in to fill the void. He has had little time to prepare for the bout against a very dangerous opponent, although he is adamant he can provide a shock against his illustrious opponent.
“I will do my best to bring back a win to Cambodia,” said the 24-year-old after his Thursday pre-fight weigh-in. “I am confident I can bring it home.”
Elsewhere on Friday night’s historic fight card is the mouth-watering main event between undefeated ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke and unbeaten Japanese challenger Yoshitaka Naito. The co-main event will pit ONE Featherweight World Champion Russian Marat Gafurov against 38-year-old Kazunori Yokota of Chiba, Japan.
Cambodian Mixed Martial Artist Kev Hemmorlor sends a flying kick crashing into the punchbag at Selapak gym in Phnom Penh. KT / Yeun Punlue
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