Following a brief retirement, Yodsanklai “The Hero” IWE Fairtex announced his arrival to ONE Championship by taking a unanimous decision from a thrilling ONE Super Series bout with Chris Ngimbi.
It was a huge task for “The African Warrior” to welcome one of the Muay Thai greats to the cage at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS, but though he couldn’t earn the victory, he stepped up to the plate in the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The kickboxing battle on 18 May was by no means one-sided, but the legendary Thai athlete vindicated his decision to make his ONE debut.
Ngimbi struck first with a low kick, but that only spurred Yodsanklai into action. The two-time Lion Fight Middleweight World Champion attacked with his powerful left body kick from the southpaw stance, visibly causing damage to Ngimbi’s defending arm.
The Dutch-Congolese striker fired back with hard overhand rights in a bid to stay in the contest.
“The Hero” went straight back to his powerful left kicks to start round two, but Ngimbi also began to work on his own trademark technique, the jumping knee.
Yodsanklai rallied off the fence, putting together a hard combination that caused the referee to step in for a standing count, although “The African Warrior” believed he had been poked in the eye.
The duo was straight back to the action after he was cleared to continue – exchanging knees and punches.
Ngimbi came on strong in the third frame, knowing he needed to make a major impact in the last three minutes. Efficient inside-boxing and hard right hands landed, but Yodsanklai weathered the storm, and continued to have success with his jab-cross and punishing left kicks to the body.
They ended the bout by going toe-to-toe, and as the final bell went, the fans recognized nine minutes of non-stop action with huge applause.
When the judges rendered their decision, “The Hero” emerged with the favour of all three cards.
He could now be in contention for a ONE Super Series title fight in the not-too-distant future after taking his 199th win in Muay Thai and kickboxing competition.
Chris Ngimbi’s record falls to 49-21, but by pushing a legend into deep water, is unlikely to suffer any damage to his reputation.