Superlek Kiatmookao’s recent victory over Rodtang Jitmuangnon has not just bolstered his status as a formidable competitor but also ushered in a spectrum of lucrative opportunities within the sphere of this prestigious organization. This juncture in his career is as much about strategic decision-making as it is about showcasing his indomitable spirit in the ring.
While a rematch with Rodtang is a palpable option, given the unresolved undertones from their previous encounter, Superlek’s horizon brims with a broader array of potential bouts. His immediate future might involve defending his flyweight kickboxing title, or perhaps embarking on a much-anticipated showdown with Takeru Segawa, the celebrated figure in Japanese kickboxing. Anticipation around Segawa’s introduction to the ONE Championship, rumored to take place in Tokyo, further adds to the buzz surrounding Superlek’s next move.
Moreover, Superlek’s career trajectory is increasingly leaning towards a transition in weight class. The flyweight champion has faced notable challenges in maintaining his current weight, sparking speculation about a shift to the bantamweight division. Such a move would not only represent a new chapter in his career but also potentially set the stage for an enthralling rematch with Jonathan Haggerty, the bantamweight two-sport champion. Their initial encounter in England, marred by its abrupt conclusion, left fans yearning for a definitive conclusion to this riveting rivalry.
Speaking candidly about his potential career paths, Superlek shared his thoughts in an interview with the Post: “It’s actually up to Chatri [Sityodtong, ONE’s chairman and CEO], so I am ready for anything. A rematch, a fight for a championship, defending my belt – anything. Since I’m the flyweight champion I actually want to stay in the weight class. But I’m also open to the opportunity to move up to bantamweight as well.”
His openness to confront Takeru Segawa, who is currently honing his skills in California, introduces an intriguing dimension to the range of his possible next opponents. The mystery surrounding Segawa’s debut opponent in the ONE Championship fuels anticipation and speculation, particularly regarding a potential matchup with Superlek.
Following his contentious victory over Rodtang, which Chatri, ONE’s chairman and CEO, lauded as “the biggest Muay Thai event in history”, Superlek’s popularity has seen a meteoric rise. His increased social media presence and expanding fan base are testament to the significant impact of this victory on his career and public image. Reflecting on his newfound popularity and fan engagement, particularly after the fan meet and greet event, Superlek expressed his gratitude and honor in being recognized and followed by an ever-growing number of enthusiasts.
The landscape of potential challengers in the ONE Championship further extends with the interest of Hiroki Akimoto, who, in a conversation with the South China Morning Post, expressed his eagerness to face Superlek, especially if he moves up to the bantamweight division. Akimoto’s desire for an encounter with Superlek underlines the potential for high-octane, crowd-pleasing bouts within the organization. He stated, “When I saw the news about him weighing over when he fought Rodtang, I was like, ‘Why doesn’t he come to bantamweight soon?’ If Superlek does move up, I’d love to fight him. It’ll be one for the fans. It’ll be fun. If I were to fight Superlek, it will be exciting.”
The showdown between Superlek and Rodtang, despite the weigh-in hiccup, delivered on its promise of an electrifying confrontation, living up to and even surpassing the heightened expectations. However, the aftermath of this bout, especially considering the weight issue, has triggered discussions within the martial arts community about the viability and necessity of Superlek considering a step up to the bantamweight division.
As he stands at this pivotal moment in his career, Superlek Kiatmookao faces choices that will not only define his path forward but also shape his legacy in the ONE Championship. The blend of potential rematches, title defenses, and a probable shift in weight class presents a tapestry of challenges and opportunities for Superlek. The decisions he makes in the ensuing months are poised to significantly influence his journey in the global arena of martial arts, marking either a continued reign in his current division or the beginning of a new chapter in a higher weight class.