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Thai graduate in dramatic KO win

MARTIAL ARTS: Thai mixed martial artist Shannon Wiratchai upset the odds to score a dramatic and unexpected KO win over American Mitch Chilson at ONE Fighting Championship: ‘Pride of a Nation’ in Manila.

By James Goyder

Tuesday 11 September 2012, 11:53AM

Shannon Wiratchai, left, survived a first-round onslaught from Mitch Chilson, right, to win by KO in the second. Photo: James Goyder

Shannon Wiratchai, left, survived a first-round onslaught from Mitch Chilson, right, to win by KO in the second. Photo: James Goyder

The 23-year-old survived a first round onslaught from his much more experienced opponent before dropping him with a perfectly timed left hook and finishing him with a soccer kick to the face early in round two.

Wiratchai, a university graduate who speaks three different languages, has emerged as the poster boy for MMA in Thailand. He made his debut fighting for DARE Championship just over a year ago, and with this win his professional record improves to 3-0.

The Sports Authority of Thailand announced earlier this year that MMA was not regulated and therefore promoters were no longer permitted to put on events in the country.

While the news was a setback to an aspiring young fighter like Wiratchai, it did not deter him from continuing to train in the hope that an opportunity would one day arise.

That chance came along when he got the call to go up against Chilson at ONE Fighting Championship: ‘Pride of a Nation’ which was the biggest MMA event to ever be held in the Philippines and took place in the same venue that Ali and Frazier contested the famous ‘Thriller in Manila’.

Wiratchai was the underdog against the more experienced American, but he pulled off a major upset when he dropped him with a perfectly timed hook early in the second round.

The Thai fighter has spent the first five minutes on his back eating elbows after Chilson took him down and looked to rough him up with some strikes from on top.

Undeterred he came out swinging after the break and settled the contest in spectacular style with a punch which dropped a dazed Chilson to his knees.

For Wiratchai it was a fantastic moment and a vindication of his decision to persist with his training despite not knowing whether he would ever be able to fight again,

I am very happy to win because Mitch is a good fighter and he was winning the first round. I trained very hard for this fight at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket and there were 15,000 people in the stadium so it was a very good feeling.”

The only disappointment for Wiratchai is that he is unlikely to get the chance to fight in Thailand again for a while. But he can console himself with the prospect of competing all over Asia for ONE FC. For the time being he is just happy to enjoy the most impressive performance of his MMA career,

I am sorry I cannot fight in Thailand and I think the SAT is wrong to ban MMA because the sport is not brutal and the fighters have a lot of skill.

In the future I hope to fight in my homeland again but I want Thai people to watch my ONE FC fights on ESPN Star Sports so that they can see that MMA is a very good sport.”



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