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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - All-Cambodian bouts complete ONE FC’s September 12 card

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Cambodian female MMA fighter Sam Tharoth punches a bag during training on Tuesday at A Fighter Club, near Russian market. Pha Lina

All-Cambodian bouts complete ONE FC’s September 12 card

ONE Fighting Championship has announced the remaining matchups for its earth-shattering mixed martial arts fight card Rise of the Kingdom, which is set to rock Koh Pich Theatre on September 12.

The event will blast off with a sizzling showcase of local female ferocity between teen kickboxing queen Bun Srey Moa and Bokator star Sam Tharoth.

The four-man Featherweight Cambodian Grand Prix semifinals will follow, featuring Yuthakun Khom proponent Chan Rothana against cage fight-hardened Prak Chansin and MMA student Chin Heng taking on wrestling expert Chan Reach.

The winners of these bouts will progress to the final later in the night, with the eventual champion lifting a glittering trophy that will be housed at NagaWorld, which became partners of ONE FC in May.

Rounding out the all-Cambodian start to the card will be the clash of two unbeaten featherweights – judo master Meas Meu and top-rated Chan Heng.

Meet the fighters

Srey Moa (0-1) is an 18-year-old Svay Ralom district, Kandal province native who has been fighting competitively in the Cambodian kickboxing discipline Kun Khmer since 2011.

Her punching power has taken her to Kun Khmer battle wins in the past, including one against her Rise of the Kingdom opponent Tharoth at Bayon TV two years ago. However, she has yet to win inside the MMA cage.

“I don’t think it will be easy because it’s not Khmer boxing,” she told the Post of her ONE FC bout, noting that she had been preparing for this “new level” of competition with twice-daily training sessions. “I think I can beat my elder rival.”

Tharoth (1-0), six years Srey Moa’s senior, was born in Banteay Meanchey’s Serey Saophoan district and has been a trailblazer in performances around the world in the Cambodian martial art of Bokator.

One such performance at a European competition in Prague in March garnered a silver medal.

Tharoth will attempt to avoid 50kg Srey Moa’s strikes, which are known for their strength. “It would be dangerous for me to exchanges punches with her,” Tharoth said.

“I will be looking to grapple with her on the ground, which I did to beat my opponent in my first MMA fight.”

Chan Rothana is a 28-year-old veteran of 90 fights in Kun Khmer and Cambodian martial art Yuthakun Khom, and boasts a record of 74 wins and 16 losses (not one of which was a knockout).

Born in a refugee camp on the Thai border, Rothana is the son of Yuthakun Khom grand master Chan Bunthoeun and is an associate at Phnom Penh’s Selapak Cultural Centre, which promotes the ancient martial art as well as traditional Cambodian dance.

“Yuthakun Khom is very comprehensive, coming from the Angkorian era. We use a lot of techniques such as elbows, knees, wrestling and [moves with] weapons,” he told the Post.

Asked which of his skills will come in most useful in cage fighting, Rothana said: “I know people will say that I have very strong kicks. It is useful of course, but I do not think it is enough in MMA.”

Despite coming off a 15-month hiatus from in-ring action, Rothana insists he is ready to take on fellow featherweight Prak Chansin in just over two weeks.

“I did some specific workshops for ground fighting. I run and spar every day with my fellow fighters. The Selapak team and my family support me greatly in this challenge, so I feel good,” he said.

Although Rothana would prefer a stand-up fight, he is wary of takedowns from his semifinal foe and isn’t scared of doing likewise. “I will be ready to go on the ground . . . but nothing will be easy for [Chansin], that’s for sure.

“I want Yuthakun Khom to be recognised internationally as the real Khmer martial art because there is a lot of wrong information out there. My father spent his life and all his energy to keep it alive, even during the Khmer Rouge period, so that motivates me.”

Police Club’s Chansin, 25, from Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district claims to hold an MMA record of 16 wins and four losses, and clinched the 65kg title belt of the 2013 Khmer Warrior Championship.

Chansin rates grappling as his best asset and, though he harbours a slight concern of his rival’s strength and stamina, he doesn’t seem to be worrying.

“It’s such a formidable stage for me [to fight at ONE FC], but I don’t think it will be troubling to fight with Chan Rothana.”

Chin Heng (0-2) of Kampong Cham’s Prek Por district has spent just the past three of his 28 years as a professional fighter, winning a Cambodian Beer kickboxing title at Bayon TV earlier this year.

He trains twice a day at the Aikido Centre in the National Sports Complex. While Chin Heng says his energy is his strongest point, he views his adversary’s grappling skills as a concern.

Chin Heng described appearing at the ONE FC event as “once in a lifetime” opportunity, adding: “it is such a big tournament, I will not shame myself”.

Brooklyn-born Reach, 26, who made headlines last week for his part in preventing a late night street robbery, is a trainer at A Fighter club near the Russian Market.

He won a World Kun Khmer Federation title in Australia four years ago but has since spent his efforts helping the Cambodian MMA scene to thrive, travelling with students Long Sophy, Khim Dima and Tok Sophon as they competed at ONE FC events on five separate occasions over the past year.

Reach has a strong wrestling background and jokingly claims to fear himself more than he does his opponent. “I think the fight will go however I want it to go – I trust in my ability,” he told the Post. “And I’m 100 per cent confident that I will win that trophy. No ifs, ands or buts about it.”

Meas Meu throws a sparring partner during training at the Cambodian Judo Federation headquartersl in the National Sports Complex
Meas Meu throws a sparring partner during training at the Cambodian Judo Federation headquartersl in the National Sports Complex yesterday. Sreng Meng Srun

A stellar featherweight battle between Meas Meu and Chan Heng will complete the locally flavoured section of the undercard.

Twenty-two-year-old Meu of Kampong Thom fights out of Judo Neak Reach Club and has yet to be defeated in nine appearances inside the Cambodian MMA cage. With his mastery of judo throws, he will look to put his finely honed skills to the test against the taller Chan Heng.

“It’s such a great chance for me,” he said. “I used to watch foreign [MMA] fights and I never thought I would be invited to such an event. “I will continue my record of never losing an MMA bout, despite meeting the elder Chan Heng.”

A Fighter club’s Chan Heng, 32 from Kampong Cham’s Steung Trang district, also holds an unbeaten cage fighting record with a streak of 10 victories. “I know my rival is good at grappling, but I won’t use it. I will beat him down by my knee,” he told the Post. “Anyway, [Meu’s] grappling skills don’t scare me.”

Chan Heng admitted to having more than one eye on the ONE FC Warrior Bonus.

The $50,000 prize will be awarded by ONE FC CEO Victor Cui to the fighter who best embodies the spirit of mixed martial arts.

“It’s such a big prize,” Chan Heng said. “Fighters should focus on their fighting when they are on the stage, not focus on winning or losing the match.”

International bouts

The five other matches on the September 12 card include Singaporean featherweight Amir Khan taking on Jian Kai Chee (4-4) of Malaysia, Raheem Rahman (2-0) of Singapore facing Taiwanese bantamweight Ming Yen Sung (3-1) and Cambodian-Australian lightweight Suasday Chau (4-3) clashing with France’s Arnaud Lepont (10-4).

The co-main event is a lightweight contest between South Africa’s Vuyisile Colossa (7-4) and Caros Fodor (9-4) of the US, while the headlining bout has Adriano Moraes (11-1) of Brazil vying with Filipino Geje Eustaquio for the inaugural ONE FC flyweight world title.

Tickets are on sale now at CTN TV studio during the week and NagaWorld on the weekend, as well as the indoor hall of Old Stadium on Sundays.

All the action will be broadcast live on local channel MyTV and on Fox Sports 2.



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