The rise of the Cambodian mixed martial arts over the past year has been meteoric to say the least, with this Friday’s momentous ONE Fighting Championship fight card at Koh Pich Theatre an idyllic introduction of the Kingdom’s top warriors to a global audience.
Of the 10 bouts slated for the event, none mark the rapid development of the local scene more than the opening match between Cambodian females Vy Srey Chai and Sam Tharoth.
Both have been involved in numerous Kun Khmer (kickboxing) fights on home soil, although Tharoth has extensive experience in other disciplines such as wrestling and the Cambodian martial art of Bokator, in which she has performed at competitions overseas.
The ladies have been ramping up their training regimes over the past few weeks but have differing concerns in making weight for Friday’s clash set at 50 kilograms.
“I have difficulties to make the weight because I have to cut down for this fight,” Srey Chai, of Kandal priovince’s Svay Ralom district, told the Post. “I follow my diet but just eat a little.”
Tharoth, 24, who was given the nickname “Little Frog” as a youngster due to her favourite nighttime activity of hunting the amphibians in Banteay Meanchey province, noted that she needed to pile on the pounds as she usually trained under the specified weight.
The pugnacious pair asserted their training had them well prepared for by far the biggest match of their lives.
“I’m not nervous – I’m calm and focused,” Srey Chai said. “I will do my best and bring all the skills I have learnt into the cage for my fans.”
Tharoth, meanwhile, said: “I feel so excited and happy, more than I can say, because I have never been fighting such a big event before.
“I will try my best on the September 12 to use all my tactics, which I have never had a chance to show.”
A shared notion between the two was of the continued growth of the sport among local females.
“For Cambodian female MMA fighters, if they give everything and show commitment to fight in the cage, especially with ONE FC, I think they will have good future because the organisation is so big and the event is so exciting with international bouts,” said Tharoth.
“If you love something or achieve something, you have to overcome all the difficulties to get the goals. Even though you have family problems, keep focusing and pushing and never give up.”
Srey Chai, 18, also highlighted the financial benefits of a career in MMA.
“I think female mixed martial arts will be good in the future because when we win, we will get a lot of money,” she said.
“If we stay at home and don’t have something to do, we should go to train and go to the fight to make money.”
An open workout today from 2pm will see ONE FC flyweight title contender Adriano Moraes of Brazil join Cambodia’s Suasday Chau and Chan Reach for a demonstration of techniques at function rooms 4 and 5 of NagaWorld.