ONE Friday Fights 34: Superlek Knocks Down Rodtang, Wins Decision in Superfight

Superlek and Rodtang (right) at ONE Friday Fights 34
Superlek and Rodtang (right) at ONE Friday Fights 34 Credit: ONE Championship

Muay Thai’s modern superstar Rodtang Jitmuangnon was set to defend his ONE flyweight Muay Thai belt against arguably the best pound-for-pound nak muay in the world in Superlek Kiatmoo9 at ONE Friday Fights 34 on Friday morning.

Unfortunately, as has been a theme for him lately, the ONE flyweight kickboxing title holder Superlek missed weight for the fight and so it became a non-title fight at a catchweight of 140-lbs. The rounds were also reduced from five rounds to three. Still this remained one of the biggest Muay Thai fights in recent years and the biggest challenge Rodtang has faced yet in ONE Championship. Both men wanted to win badly as another potential superfight waited in the wings with Japanese kickboxing star and recent ONE signee Takeru Segawa in the crowd to watch the bout.

The two fighters met in the center and traded leg kicks to open the fight. Rodtang slowly pressed forward as Superlek gave ground but landed the harder kicks. Rodtang tried to land big swinging punches but Superlek mostly leaned back out of the way and landed counter kicks. After one such counter Rodtang came back with a monster elbow that opened a gash on the taller fighter’s forehead. Blood stained his yellow hair and the doctor checked on him momentarily before the fight resumed. Superlek clinched up but that only allowed Rodtang to land two more short elbows. With his vision hindered it became easier for Rodtang to land his punches.

After a clear win for Rodtang in the first round he needed to do something big to get the fight back. He opened up more with combinations and forward movement to start the second round, giving him success early in the round. Rodtang had more trouble getting inside on his longer opponent, who did a better job avoiding damaging shots in the clinch. A big right elbow from Superlek as he came forward with a barrage dropped Rodtang with under a minute left in the round. He also landed a big knee as Rodtang fell to the ground. This knockdown made Rodtang angry and he came forward with a vengeance in the last twenty seconds of the round, but he still lost it 10-8.

The final round of this monumental fight began with the two fighters meeting in the center and running into a clinch, where Rodtang dumped Superlek over his hip onto the mat. After that they clinched many more times and both tried to land big elbows. Superlek began to breathe through his mouth, looking somewhat tired as Rodtang came forward at full power still. Rodtang dumped Superlek to the mat again halfway through the round. Superlek tried to clinch and land knees there at every opportunity while Rodtang tried to avoid the clinches and land his big punches at distance. The fight ended with Superlek landing a knee to the stomach while Rodtang swung back with punches.

The pair embraced on their knees in the center of the ring at the end before the judges decision was announced. There are no draws in ONE Championship, so despite the 10-8 for Superlek in round two, a winner had to be declared. Usually the tiebreaker in these situations has gone to whoever scores the knockdown, and that proved to be the case here as the judges awarded Superlek the decision.

In his post-fight interview Superlek apologized for his weight miss and declared his desire to fix his weight issues and not move up to bantamweight next. He was not able to receive a bonus at ONE Friday Fights 34 due to the weight miss.

Official Result: Superlek Kiatmoo9 def. Rodtang Jitmuangnon by Unanimous Decision