Thai MMA fighter Shannon Wiratchai is hoping that his adoption of Judo will pay dividends again when he fights Bashir Ahmad at ONE FC Kings & Champions.
Hailing from Phuket’s Tiger Muay Thai gym, the 24-year-old has been involved in three fights in his career and has yet to be beaten on the professional circuit.
Last year, he also made his ONE FC debut against Evolve’s Mitch Chilson in the Pride of a Nation tournament but the fight was deemed a no-contest after a review by the officials found that his use of a soccer kick was illegal. Subsequently, the rules have been amended and they now allow kicks to be levelled at opponents even if they’re on the ground following a takedown.
At Friday’s Kings & Champions event, set to be televised live on STAR Sports to 28 countries around the world, he will be up against Pakistani MMA pioneer Bashir who is a relative unknown and will officially be making his international pro debut.
However, it could be Bashir who might be in for a surprise as Shannon is a Thai fighter who deliberately sought to pursue Judo in a country predominantly known for its Muay Thai training. His unique approach to the fight could very well give him the initiative he needs to remain unbeaten for the fourth time of asking.
“I don’t value it [Muay Thai] as highly as my countrymen. Mixed martial arts is more than just striking and I have always felt more comfortable in Judo,” he told FOX Sports last week.
“I have also trained in an ancient Chinese martial art called Baguazhang. It is not like I completely tuned Muay Thai out of my training.
“Due to my diverse background, I have a more unorthodox skillset that might confuse a lot of people. That will give me time to establish my gameplan and force my opponent into uncomfortable situations.”
Against Chilson, the Thai spent the majority of the first round in a defensive position, shielding his body from the aggressive Singaporean-American. In the second round, he did fight back and was more direct in his attacks until the referee granted him a technical knockout after a low kick to his grounded enemy.
Shannon does not interpret the Manila fight in the same way though, and believes he had everything under control on the night.
“I felt that my gameplan against Mitch worked well. I felt that I won that fight so I don’t think I should change who I am as a fighter too much, although I should continue to improve.”
And he does empathise with Bashir as the 30-year-old Pakistani is facing an uphill battle to popularise MMA, much like Shannon’s own efforts back home amidst a cluttered Muay Thai scene.
“Bashir and I share similarities in that we are both university graduates and we both can speak three languages.
“We are just going into the ONE FC cage to test our skills against the best in the world and there is no animosity whatsoever between us.”
Kings & Champions will be broadcast live across Asia from the Singapore Indoor Stadium on STAR Sports.