“I would love to win by standup TKO to show what a kun Khmer fighter is capable of!” roared Cambodia’s top mixed martial arts fighter as he gears up for his bout in ONE: Heroes of the World in Macau on Saturday.
Rothana (4-1) is scheduled to fight Haobin Ma (2-1) in the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Macao, and he said that he is expecting to be forced to utilise his groundwork skills in the bout against the Chinese “Southern Eagle”.
“He is a young wrestler, and for sure he will try to bring me on the ground, like all my past opponents in MMA. I feel more and more comfortable in wrestling and BJJ, so we will see,” Rothana told Stuff magazine on Tuesday.
Despite being a future master in the ancient Cambodian martial art yuthakun khom and a black belt in the similar Korean fighting style hapkido (he also holds a black belt in taekwondo), both of which use wrestling techniques, Rothana has been further honing his ground skills, notably training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
He has been training for the upcoming bout at the world-famous Tiger Muay Thai gym in Phuket, which boasts UFC bantamweight Valentina Shevchenko on its books.Kyrgyzstan’s Shevchenko in July defeated Holly Holm, who famously ended the winning streak of UFC superstar Rhonda Rousey.
“The mobility in MMA is very different and I try to improve it during the sparing sessions, under the tutelage of MMA head coach George Hickman,” Rothana told Stuff.
After recording his first win on foreign soil at ONE: Age of Champions in Malaysia in 2015, Rothana is seeking his second win abroad in Macau, and dismissed any notion that an away bout and a home crowd may give a big advantage to the Chinese.
“When I am fighting, I do not hear anything from the crowd. I am very concentrated, only listening to the advice from my cornerman. “I fought in France, in Malaysia. [Fighting abroad] is not something that bothers me,” he said.
After a fearsome career in Cambodian kickboxing, kun Khmer, Rothana has made a successful transition to MMA. Rothana has lost only one of his four fights in ONE, against Sam Ang Dun at Rise of the Kingdom in September 2014, when the fight was stopped for an illegal stomp.
However, he gained revenge on his compatriot with a first round TKO in ONE: Kingdom of Khmer at Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich Theater in December last year.
This is his first ONE appearance since then. “I am ready, and I am really excited to be coming back to the ONE cage. I strongly believe I will win this fight – which will give me confidence for my next fight at the end of this year,” Rothana told the Post on Tuesday before flying off to Macau.
Haobin Ma is coming off a loss to Tajikistan’s Umidjon Musayev in a bout in Zhengzhou on June 29.
The main event at Heroes of the World sees former ONE flyweight champion Adriano Moraes of Brazil (14-2) take on elite wrestler Andrew Leone from the US (8-2) for the interim ONE flyweight championship.