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ONE 157: Behind Jimmy Vienot's lifelong obsession with being the best

Ahead of Friday's main event, the Frenchman discusses his path to ONE 157.
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Jimmy "JV01" Vienot wants to add another world title to his collection.

By defeating ONE featherweight muay Thai world champion Petchmorakot Petchyindee in the main event of ONE 157 this Friday, he'll accomplish just that.

Vienot has won five muay Thai world championships in his career, but he knows claiming ONE world title gold will solidify his status as one of the best athletes in the sport.

"I've always aimed for the highest goals from being very young. I didn't say to myself that I would start this sport and see where it takes me," the 26-year-old said.

Muay Thai has certainly taken Vienot far, but his combat sports journey actually began with another sport.

The Frenchman originally kick-started his journey with judo when he was 4 years old, and he practiced it for nearly a decade. But then, he craved something more aggressive – and that was when he eventually developed a passion for "the art of eight limbs."

"I've always liked combat sports in general. I liked judo, but I got to a stage at the age of 13 where I wanted to be able to punch my opponent," he said.

"Muay Thai is the most complete striking sport with kicks, punches, elbows, and knees. That's why I liked it, and I fell in love with it."

Vienot's love for the sport and pre-established martial arts mindset helped propel him to new heights in the striking-only discipline.

Soon, he built up a strong amateur record and then set his sights on competing in the birthplace of muay Thai, itself – that being Thailand.

Unfortunately, Vienot couldn't set up his home base in Thailand, so his trip involved him traveling back and forth between France to Thailand quarterly. However, those long flights and tedious hours did not deter him from his primary objective.

"The first time I boxed as a professional was in Thailand at the age of 16," he said.

"It was outside, so we had all the public watching us. It was really something extraordinary. I really liked the culture and the ambiance that there is in Thailand for muay Thai, and I defeated my opponent by KO that day."

Winning soon became a thing of habit for the European striker. But aside from those victories, the Frenchman's time in Thailand also gave him valuable lessons against some of the sport's best fighters.

Vienot endured tough losses to world-class strikers like Petchboonchu FA Group, Pakorn PK.Saenchai, and Yodwicha Por Boonsit – all Lumpinee Stadium muay Thai world champions.

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That did not stop him from competing, though.

Motivated to level up his skills, Vienot improved his arsenal and would claim a World Professional MuayThai Federation (WPMF) belt at the massive King's Birthday event in Bangkok.

"I was a champion at a very young age, at 21 years old, and that made me even more determined to win everything on the muay Thai circuit," he said.

That win opened the doors to more success for the French star. He continued winning prestigious accolades such as the WMC and WBC World Titles and even became just the fourth non-Thai in history to claim the Lumpinee Stadium World Title in 2019.

To date, Vienot has five muay Thai world championships to his name. And if the Frenchman outclasses Petchmorakot on 20 May, his sixth – and undoubtedly his biggest – World Title gold will follow suit.

"The belt of ONE is a belt that everybody wants because there is a lot of notoriety behind it, a lot of recognition, and this is what is missing in this sport," he offered.

"So that's why people work hard and want to train for this belt at all costs. It's up to me to take it and to keep it, simply. There is no one who will work harder than me to get what belongs to me.”