There is a difference between a fighter and a martial artist, notes Canadian mixed martial arts superstar Georges St-Pierre in one of his most famous quotes.
“A fighter is training for a purpose: He has a fight,” continues St-Pierre. “I’m a martial artist. I don’t train for a fight. I train for myself. I’m training all the time. My goal is perfection. But I will never reach perfection.”
The three-time UFC welterweight champion is well known for his gruelling training regimes in preparation for his cage fights.
In 2012, St Pierre invited famed Muay Thai instructors Kru Yod and Kru Langsomkran to Montreal to help him brush up his striking skills ahead of his title unification clash against Carlos Condit at UFC 154.
The instructors hailed from Tiger Muay Thai (TMT), a camp in Phuket which has gone from strength to strength over the years and is now regarded as one of the best in the world for up and coming international fighters, both in Muay Thai and MMA.
Due to a pioneering initiative from business and entertainment hub NagaWorld, two aspiring Cambodian cage fighters –Sam Ang Dun and Chan Rothana, who recently fought in the Featherweight Grand Prix final of ONE Fighting Championship’s Rise of the Kingdom fight card at Koh Pich Theatre – are being sponsored to travel to Phuket for some intense sessions with the TMT trainers.
“They will train in Brazilian jiu jitsu, MMA and wrestling for their entire stay,” TMT director Will Elliot told the Post.
“That means they will train with head MMA coach and UFC veteran Roger Huerta for wrestling and MMA, and BJJ with fifth degree black belt Fernando Maccachero from Brazil.
“The Cambodian fighters will stay in our onsite fighters’ rooms or dormitory. They will mix in with the international pro fight team. This should provide a wealth of experience.
“We have Russian fighters, Chinese fighters, European and North American fighters. There will be a lot of international exposure for the Cambodian standouts.”
Sam Ang Dun was controversially awarded the Grand Prix title after being knocked out by a heel strike from Chan Rothana deemed illegal by judges. As the winner, he receives a monthlong pass to train at TMT.
“We will arrange for Sam Ang Dun to go [to Phuket] for one month of training either in late December or early January, as he has a local kick- boxing contract to fulfil, which ends mid-December,” said NagaWorld events manager Yeo Wee Han.
“As for Chan Rothana, even though he did not win the tournament we were very impressed by his attitude and hence we decided that we will also extend the invite to him to go train with TMT. Due to his other commitments with his team [Selapak], he will only be able to attend a two-week training course and will go sometime in January after Sam Ang Dun.”
“We at Nagaworld are grateful to TMT, especially their director Will Elliot, who offered us an unbelievable offer to have the Cambodia fighters to train there,” added Yeo.
“I believe this is the first time that Cambodia fighters will be going over there and with their experienced coaches, I’m sure our boys will come back with better knowledge and experience as well as in better condition for their next ONE FC fight.”
Elliot revealed that a month-long training camp at TMT would typically cost around 60,000 baht (US$1,850), with food and accommodation taken into consideration.
From coups to cages
Sam Ang Dun has seen a dramatic change of fortunes since his humble days of looking after fighting cocks in Kampot province as a teenager. When the law intervened, putting an end to the cock fights, he came to Phnom Penh in pursuit of a career as a kickboxer.
“I tried to ask many boxing clubs for training, but I was not accepted by any,” Sam Ang Dun told the Post yesterday.
“I didn’t dare to ask the trainer [and Cambodian kickboxing legend] Ei Phouthang at the time. I didn’t know where to go and I stayed at Olympic Stadium for three days before I met the Ei Phouthang there.
“I asked him to train with him and he accepted me and I stayed at the club until now.
“My life has changed from bad to good after I won the Grand Prix final and I hope I can become a famous fighter like my trainer. I want to be one of the most famous fighters in Cambodia.”
Rothana, meanwhile, said he was “very excited” for the chance to go to Phuket.
“I know Muay Thai Tiger because of the good reputation of trainers, the quality of the facilities,” he said.
“Of course it’s going to be hard. I do not expect it to be too much fun, but this is my job. I am a fighter.
“I am always much more hard on training with myself than my students or fighters at Selapak.
“I like it – the challenge, the effort and knowing that if you do your best and try hard on preparation, the fight is easier,” he added.
“Getting the opportunity to train with world class fighters is amazing, meet and share experience with them is really positive and will help me.”
Roar of Tigers
ONE FC host their 21st event, Roar of Tigers, at Kuala Lumpur’s Stadium Putra tonight.
Live coverage can be viewed on local channel MyTV from 6pm Cambodian time.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY IN SOPHENG
Friday Fight Card
Main Event – Featherweight
Marat Gafurov (RUS) v Rob Lisita (AUS)
Co-Main Event – Featherweight
Peter Davis (MAL) v Vaughn Donayre (PHI)
Ev Ting (MAL) v Edward Kelly (PHI)
Tanaphong Khunhankaew (THA) v Bashir Ahmad (PAK)
Stephen Langdown (SIN) v Raymond Tan (MAL)
Barbod (IRN) v Hesham Hiba (EGY)
Ann Osman (MAL) v Aya Saeid Saber (EGY)
Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke(THA) v Saiful Merican (MAL)
Anatpong Bunrad (THA) v Marc Marcellinus (MAL)