Amateur mixed martial arts in Thailand is continuing to go from strength-to-strength and later this year will take the international stage, thanks to some hard work at a grassroots level in Bangkok.
The finale of the amateur MMA Ignite Warrior Championship went down last weekend at JSL Global Studios in Bangkok. The inaugural Ignite Warrior Championship crowned four winners, each of whom took home a hefty 100,000 Baht in prize money.
These four athletes will be given priority selection to represent Thailand at the 2018 IMMAF Asian Open. Hosted by the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF), the event is set to take place in Beijing from 10 to 15 September.
Tournament winners include bantamweight Rungrot “King Kong” Posi, female strawweight Prapassorn “May” Thunyawanich, featherweight Narupon Ploopai and lightweight contender Chayanon Potijean.
Plai Jitinat, president and founder of the Thai Mixed Martial Arts Federation (TMMAF) and promoter of both the One Shin Cup and Ignite Warrior Championship, has made incredible strides for grassroots MMA in Thailand.
It was only last September that Jitinat launched the TMMAF’s first event called Oneshin Cup, named after Shannon ‘OneShin’ Wiratchai. To see how far the event has come in less than a year is impressive to say the least.
With his support, this year will mark Thailand’s first time taking part in the IMMAF Asian Open.
The Ignite Warrior Championship was held in conjunction with the One Shin Cup and was broadcast live on Thai TV. English language commentary by Bangkok’s own Jon A. Nutt and Mark Abbott was streamed live on YouTube.
“This year has truly been the year of amateur Thai MMA, with Ignite lighting the fire that will light the way for many more years to come,” said Jon A. Nutt.
“If you’re a fan of combat sports Ignite should grab your attention. After all, it is as smooth as silk, beautifully packaged from the land of Muay Thai. With high level strikers now making the shift, who knows what the future holds. Only time will tell.”
The live audience was interactive and excited by the action. This promotion rivals international professional MMA shows with its high level production value and attention to detail. Fighters are not only given a chance to compete, but can develop their own brand and identity also.
This event was made even more notable by the attendance of the president of the IMMAF, Kerrith Brown, who flew in from London to attend.
Coaches included Thai celebrity and Khongsittha gym owner Matthew Deane, Thailand’s first ever World MMA Champion Ramba Somdet, former Team Alpha Male striking coach Master Thong and standing in for Shannon ‘OneShin’ Wiratchai who is competing at ONE: Reign of Kings this weekend was none other than Rika Ishige. Coaches were very hands on with the competitors and ringside to provide instruction to their mentees.
Jitinat’s ability to bring together local celebrities, professionalism, quality amateur MMA athletes and TV broadcasting makes for a promising future for Thai MMA.