Thailand is famous for its fighters, but while they have won world titles in boxing, kickboxing and, of course, Muay Thai, there has yet to be a Thai MMA champion. Shannon Wiratchai is hoping to be the first and can take a step in the right direction by beating Mitch Chilson at ONE FC: Pride of a Nation on August 31.
It is the sort of fight he has dreamed about ever since he first started studying martial arts and, even more importantly for Wiratchai, he will be representing Thailand on the international stage.
“I know fighters from the Philippines come to Thailand and Thai fighters go the Philippines all the time for boxing so there is a rivalry and I definitely want to do well because I want to show Thai fighters are the best,” exclaimed Wiratchai in an interview with Fighters.com.
Perhaps surprising given his nationality, Wiratchai’s speciality is not Muay Thai as he has a black belt in Judo and a good deal of MMA experience. His professional record is 2-0 and he is hoping to extend that winning streak when he takes on Chilson.
“I have won two fights but I think Chilson will be the best fighter I have ever faced. He works with some of the best coaches in Asia and he is good at Muay Thai, wrestling and Jiu Jitsu,” explained Wiratchai. “I am training hard at Tiger Muay Thai and working with Roger Huerta every day, my fitness and condition is the best it has ever been and I am hoping all the hard work will be worth it when I do my fight.”
Wiratchai’s first two fights were both in Bangkok where MMA is technically banned. That being said, he has never experienced anything on the scale of the next ONE FC event which is expected to attract 16,500 fans but is still sad that he might not get the chance to fight in his homeland again.
“So many people will be at ONE FC it is amazing. I never thought so many people would see me fight and I am very excited to go to the Philippines but I hope I can fight in Thailand again soon. Thailand is my home and all my friends love MMA, it is not fair that they are not allowed to see MMA anymore and I hope the Sports Authority of Thailand will change this decision,” stated the up-and-comer.
Although it is early in his career Wiratchai has already earned a reputation as being an entertaining fighter and you get the sense that every time he steps inside the cage he is enjoying himself. Perhaps it is because before MMA came around he never had an opportunity to use his martial arts experience in a competitive environment.
” I learned Baguazhang which is a Chinese martial art and Judo, but in Thailand it is mainly Muay Thai and boxing so I never had a chance to use the skills which I had learned until MMA. I have done a lot of amateur MMA fights before I tried fighting in a cage for the first time, I really like to fight MMA,” said Wiratchai.
The trajectory of Wiratchai’s mixed martial arts career has moved more rapidly than might have been expected and he finds himself playing a part in one of the biggest Asian MMA events of the year in only his third fight. Most fighters will never get the opportunity to compete in a stadium filled with over 10,000 spectators and the 23 year old is not intimidated by the thought of fighting in front of so many fans.
“I am excited! I hope my friends will all get to watch the fight late on when it is shown on ESPN in Thailand, it is a big chance for me as a fighter and I hope I can fight my best. Chilson is good at everything, BJJ, wrestling, Muay Thai, so anything can happen in the fight. It will be fun!”
Fans can see how Wiratchai fares at ONE FC: Pride of a Nation when it takes place at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on August 31. The entire card can be viewed online through the company’s website.
PHOTO CREDIT – ONE FC