Rodtang admits only doing grappling ‘several times’ before accepting Demetrious Johnson special-rules fight

rodtang jitmuangnon
Credit: ONE Championship

ONE Championship flyweight Muay Thai champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon will have a lot of ground to make up in the grappling department before his “dream come true” special-rules fight against mixed martial arts legend Demetrious Johnson. Especially since he’s only done grappling training a few times before he accept the mixed rules matchup in December.

“I like all kinds of sports, but as for MMA, my first time [training in it] was at Fairtex [MMA Pattaya Training Center]. I didn’t train MMA on a daily basis, but yes, I have tried grappling training several times,” Jitmuangnon told MixedMartialArts.com. “I wished I could compete in MMA one day, and now my dream came true.”

Rodtang Jitmuangnon has concerns about MMA rounds against Demetrious Johnson

Jitmuangnon, 24, will get his first taste of MMA action on Dec. 5 at ONE: X against former UFC flyweight great Demetrious Johnson. However, the matchup won’t be a normal MMA bout. No, it will be a four-round fight fought under a unique rule set that will play both to the strengths and weaknesses of both men.

rodtang jitmuangnon
Credit: ONE Championship

Each of the three-minute rounds will alternate between strict Muay Thai and MMA rules. The first and third rounds will be under Muay Thai. Giving the superstar talent from Thailand a distinct advantage to start the fight. However, the man that has competed in Muay Thai since he was 10-years-old understands he has a chasm of experience to make up in the MMA rounds against a fighter he calls a “legend.” Nonetheless, he takes those concerns in stride as he views this unique bout as the next step in what has already been a lengthy combat sports career.

“It’s a new challenge and another step for me in my career. My only one concern is I’ll compete MMA with DJ who is the legend in this sport. But I think I might have an advantage because the first round is Muay Thai. In case I can’t knock him out in the first round, it’s going to be hard for me in second round MMA,” he said with a laugh.

Rodtang calls upcoming DJ fight the hardest of his life

When the ONE matchmakers came to their Muay Thai champion and top-ranked kickboxer with the idea for his pseudo debut in MMA, he admits he was stunned by the idea for a week. Yet, he took the fight because of this unique challenge it would offer in a combat career that has mostly seen success. Jitmuangnon revealed he only learned about “Mighty Mouse” when he joined the organization. But despite limited knowledge the MMA legend’s reputation precedes him, and “The Iron Man” knows he has a massive challenge ahead in the “hardest fight” in his life.

“This fight is the hardest fight in my life. This is DJ, not just anyone.”

As he prepares for his first taste of MMA the obvious question then is, will this bout be a one-and-done for the Thai star when it comes to competing in this new endeavor. Jitmuangnon told MixedMartialArts.com he hasn’t thought that far ahead just yet, and that this fight will have a lot of influence on his final decision. However, the door is very much open for special rules and full MMA fights in his ONE fighting future.

 “I can’t answer now [if he will compete in MMA again]. I think I’ll know how my career will go after this fight. But probably it should be a yes for [another MMA fight after],” he said.

ONE X will take place inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore on Dec. 5. The card will also feature a bantamweight title fight between the champion Bibiano Fernandes and John Lineker, and a featherweight title clash pitting current champion Thanh Le versus top contender Garry Tonon.

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