After defeating Amir Naseri in the ONE flyweight muay Thai world grand prix quarterfinals, No. 4-ranked contender Savvas Michael inched one step closer to the tournament final.
Next up, "The Baby Face Killer" faces ONE flyweight muay Thai world champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon in the tourney semis at "ONE on Prime Video 1: Moraes vs. Johnson II" on August 26 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Before Michael attempts to upset the Thai superstar and earn a spot in the grand prix final, we look at three keys to victory for the 30-year-old Cypriot star.
1. Match Rodtang's intimidation with confidence
"The Baby Face Killer" currently holds a 43-4 record, and he has faced some of the scariest men on the ONE roster, including legendary Lerdsila Phuket Top Team and No. 4-ranked flyweight kickboxer Taiki "Silent Sniper" Naito.
No matter what the outcomes of his fights are, Michael always battles confidently with all his heart. And against Rodtang, he'll need to do just this.
The ONE flyweight muay Thai world champion loves to intimidate his opponents, and it has worked in his favor. He's racked up 11 wins in ONE's kickboxing and muay Thai divisions using intimidation as part of his skillset.
If Michael can stand confidently against a monster who's going to stalk him around the circle and try to take his head off, he may find himself sliding into the final of the grand prix.
2. Counter Rodtang's aggression with combos
In his ONE debut, Michael put his superb countering skills on display when he faced Singtongnoi Por Telakun at "ONE: Warriors of Light" in May 2019.
For every strike that Singtongnoi threw at him, the Petchyindee Academy standout responded with slick counter-attacks. Michael blocked the Thai star's kicks before responding with a barrage of punches or kicks of his own to score a unanimous decision victory.
Rodtang is an aggressive athlete who likes to take control of the circle. But if Michael can answer with heavy combinations, he may be able to stop the flyweight Muay Thai king in his tracks, where he can then use his 4-inch height advantage to score from the outside.
3. Fight exceptionally well off the back foot
Michael might've faced an Omnoi Stadium world champion in Naseri in the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Grand Prix quarterfinals, but "The Baby Face Killer" had no problem picking him apart to capture the unanimous decision win.
He did well because he fought smartly off the back foot, baiting Naseri to come forward so he could land his attacks, which included teeps from the outside and punches at close range.
To leave the circle with his hand raised on August 26, Michael will have to apply the same strategy against Rodtang because "The Iron Man" knows only one direction — forward. "The Baby Face Killer" will have a better chance of picking apart his grand prix final gatekeeper while moving backward and using his longer reach.
This story first published at ONEFC.com.