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Big leap for Little Frog

Cambodia’s Sam Tharoth
Cambodia’s Sam Tharoth (right) tries to work an armbar submission on Vy Srey Chai during their female 50kg bout of ONE FC Rise of the Kingdom at Koh Pich Theatre on September 12. Sreng Meng Srun

Big leap for Little Frog

Sam Tharoth, one of Cambodia’s leading ladies in the sport of mixed martial arts, has landed the biggest fight of her career – an atomweight (48kg) clash with Jujeath Nagaowa of the Philippines at ONE FC: Warriors Way in Manila on December 5.

Having impressed many in her first-round armbar submission defeat of compatriot Vy Srey Chai during ONE FC: Rise of the Kingdom at Koh Pich Theatre on September 12, “Little Frog” Tharoth now faces her first international cage fight in the intimidating atmosphere of the SM Mall of Asia Arena, which houses 20,000 raucous Filipino fans.

The 24-year-old Banteay Meanchey-born fighter, who trains out of Phnom Penh MMA club A Fighter, admits she is “very nervous”.

“I am really excited to be given this big chance. [But] the fight is not on my land, it’s on her land,” Tharoth told the Post of the bout against Nagaowa.

“I need to train harder than ever before for this fight.”

Nagaowa, 27, is a former WBC Asia atomweight champion with 12 professional victories in the boxing ring. Her transition to the cage went smoothly on May 2 with a victorious ONE FC debut against India’s Jeet Toshi in front of her home crowd in Manila.

Nicknamed “Bad Girl”, Nagaowa has nifty footwork, which she uses to avoid her opponents’ punches, and knockout power in both hands, something she demonstrated in her second round stoppage of Toshi.

Tharoth, however, says she is well aware of Nagaowa proficiency in stand up fighting and will look to exert her authority on the ground in their encounter.

“She is really good with her hands. I know what she is good at and what I am good at. I absolutely know how to use my wrestling skills,” said Tharoth,

Whilst boasting an extensive knowledge of the Cambodian martial art of Bokator, which has taken her across the globe for performances and competitions.

Tharoth credits her trainers Chan Reach and Barry Guerin at A Fighter club for her development as an MMA fighter.

Her bout against Nagaowa is set to open the 10-match card on December 5, which will be headlined by the ONE FC bantamweight world championship title fight between belt-holder Bibiano Fernandes (16-3) of Brazil and South Korean contender Dae Hwan Kim (10-0-1).

The co-main event sees the highly anticipated heavyweight clash of Filipino-American and UFC veteran Brandon Vera (12-7) and Igor Subora (5-1) of the Ukraine.

ONE FC have announced the remaining fights for Warriors Way, including Eduard Folayang (14-4) of the Philippines returning to action to take on Russia’s Timofey Nastyukhin.

Filipina-American flyweight Ana Julaton (1-1) will meet Egypt’s Walaa Abas (2-1) in the night’s second female battle, coming immediately after the first, while another homegrown flyweight Rene Catalan (0-1) goes up against Muay Thai world champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke (3-0) of Thailand.