The stage is set for Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex’s highly anticipated return to ONE Championship.
Competing in the promotion’s first-ever Muay Thai main event at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS, Yodsanklai is a hero to Thai people for his dedication to the nation’s martial art.
This Friday, 7 December at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the 33-year-old legend will face Australia’s Luis Regis in a featherweight contest.
Prior to reaching this point in his career, Yodsanklai thought his days of competing were over.
In 2015, he had to undergo surgery for a knee injury.
“The knee injury was mainly a result from overtraining over a long period of time,” he says.
“I was very shocked when the doctor told me I needed surgery. I’ll admit, I was a bit scared that I would never be able to fight again as a result of my injury.”
He took an entire year off to rehab his knee in the hopes of one day getting back into the ring to continue to do what he loves.
Yodsanklai was able to make a comeback, but it was short-lived. After accepting — and winning — four consecutive bouts, the Muay Thai veteran knew something still wasn’t right.
“I just felt that my knee was not as stable as it used to be,” he continues.
“My cardio wasn’t that good, and my body wasn’t recovering from hard training sessions as quickly.”
A true warrior, Yodsanklai continued to train. Eventually, the pain and discomfort became unbearable.
In June 2017, he shocked the world when he announced his retirement from combat sports.
It was one of the hardest decisions the pugilist ever had to make in his career, but as fate would have it, it was also one of the best.
Completely retiring was exactly what “The Hero” needed in order to allow his body to recover.
In addition to allowing his body to slowly recuperate and strengthen, Yodsanklai admits the break from competition made him mentally stronger, too.
“It renewed my passion for Muay Thai,” he states.
“When you do anything for decades, there is always a chance of burning out. The body and the mind sometimes needs a break.”
Now, feeling stronger than he has in years, Yodsanklai will be looking to thrill fans worldwide this Friday, 7 December.
Should he defeat Regis, then “The Hero” could challenge for a ONE World Title.