ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon has a series of dangerous potential opponents ahead of him in the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Grand Prix, which kicks off at ONE 157: Petchmorakot vs. Vienot, this Friday, 20 May, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
His first opponent, Jacob Smith, will be a new challenge for him, but "The Iron Man" has faced a few of his fellow Grand Prix competitors before – including top-ranked contender Jonathan Haggerty, who he has faced twice.
He snatched the belt from “The General” at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES in 2019 and defended it at ONE: A NEW TOMORROW in 2020. Haggerty has been itching for a trilogy bout with the World Champion for some time now, and it just might happen at some point during the Grand Prix.
In addition to Haggerty, Rodtang could also meet Walter Gonclaves again. The Brazilian powerhouse took him to the final bell when he challenged him in 2019. The Thai dynamo won by split decision, but Gonclaves will surely fancy his chances if they get drawn together in the tournament.
Before either of those rematches become a possibility, Rodtang must defeat Smith, someone he is not taking lightly, despite his lack of experience in the ONE Circle.
“We’ll have to see how hard or easy it goes. I just can’t be careless as this is a ‘small gloves’ fight, and he has a similar fighting style with heavy weapons. I haven’t seen any of his weaknesses yet, from what I’ve studied,” he said.
“He is the most dangerous of the group. If I get through Jacob Smith, the following fights might be easier.”
“The Iron Man’s” World Title is not at risk in the Grand Prix, but should he suffer a defeat at any point, the eventual winner will earn a chance to challenge him for the strap at a later date.
Rodtang is aware of what’s at stake as he fights his way through the Grand Prix, and he wants to start in his quarterfinal bout against Smith next Friday.
“I can’t be careless. I’m meeting him in the first round of this tournament, but it’s not going to be easy,” he said.
Watch ONE 157: Petchmorakot vs. Vienot live on Disney+ Hotstar, beginning with the lead card at 2 p.m. India Standard Time (IST) on Friday, 20 May. The main card broadcasts live on Disney+ Hotstar at 6 p.m. IST.