Cambodian fighters enter the cage tonight as Asian MMA juggernaut ONE Championship arrives in Bangkok for ONE: Kingdom of Warriors.
The Kingdom’s age-old rivalry is set to be re-ignited when Kev Hommorlor and Chrech Kosal take on Kritsada Konsrichai and Yodsanan Sityodtong at the Impact Arena from 6.30pm.
The 27-year-old Kev hails from Takeo on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Forced to leave school after Grade 12 to help support his large family, in which he has 11 siblings, he came to the capital to work on construction sites as a labourer, where he worked for many years while training in Cambodian kickboxing discipline kun Khmer.
In 2012 he joined the gym run by yutakhun kom grand master Chan Bunthoeun, the father of the successful kun Khmer fighter and rising MMA star Chan Rothana.
Training at weekends at the gym in his home town, Kev honed his kun Khmer skills, and when Rothana opened his own gym, Selapak, in Phnom Penh a year later, Kev joined him as assistant coach.
Aside from training and coaching in combat sports, Kev has, while in the capital, enrolled at university to achieve another personal dream, gaining a bachelors degree in Khmer Literature to become a teacher.
“I am going into the ONE cage [tonight] to win and show what I am capable of, Kev told the Post yesterday. “It is going be very intense [fighting a Thai] and the history between the two kingdoms will certainly add to the tension.
“I am happy in Thailand so far and my experience at Tiger Muay Thai gym was very good. I had an excellent relationship with the Thai people.”
Asked of his chances in the bout, Kev replied: “I am confident that on standup I am better than my opponent, I think I have more experience and skill. But [Kritsada] is a national wrestling champion so I will have to be at my best on the ground.
“It is always an honour to represent your country, especially coming to fight in Thailand,” he added. “Only a few Khmer fighters have had success in Thailand and I want my name added to that list!”
Cambodian bantamweight prospect Chrech Kosal has two wins and one loss as a professional mixed martial artist. Also a Khun Khmer specialist, Kosal is quick on his feet and powerful with his strikes.
Former WBA world champion Sityodtong, 41, is making his return to professional MMA tonight and “Little Tyson” is relishing the opportunity to fight in front of a home crowd in Bangkok.
In the main event, Thailand’s undefeated ONE strawweight champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke is set to defend his title against unbeaten Japanese challenger Yoshitaka Naito in a five-round title collision.
“It has always been my dream to compete at home in front of all of my family and friends, in front of the people of Thailand,” said “Kru Rong” of the battle for the belt.
“This fight means so much to me and I promise to give my all inside the cage.”
Challenger Naito said: “I am coming into this fight as the challenger, as the underdog, in front of my opponent’s hometown crowd.
“But in my professional career, I have not known defeat and I plan to keep it that way on fight night. “The champion had better be prepared for a real battle, because I will be bringing all my skills into the cage. I will walk away with that belt around my waist.”
In the co-main event, reigning ONE featherweight champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov of Russia (13-0) will defend his belt against Japan’s Yokota Kazunori (25-5).Kazunori, 38, is a mixed martial arts veteran with over 12 years of professional fight experience under his belt.