Age has been a constant topic of conversation in modern mixed martial arts as numerous athletes in the sport chose to continue competing at a high level even if they have passed their prime.
A few competitors have gained momentum and achieved excellence in their mid-to-late 30s or even early 40s, which is certainly a rarity as bodies, minds and chins of most combatants wear out at that period of their careers due to the strenuous and vehement nature of the sport.
These highly-decorated cage warriors defied the physical boundaries of the sport and proved that age is just a number.
Thai veteran Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke has the same objective in mind as he steps inside the ONE Championship cage once again on 24 March.
Recognized as one of the best Muay Thai practitioners that Thailand has ever produced, Amnuaysirichoke brought his country to the top of the kickboxing world when he captured the Lumpinee Stadium championship three times in two different weight classes.
Amnuaysirichoke later crossed over into the cage to claim the inaugural ONE Strawweight World Championship against former Filipino boxing champion Roy Doliguez in May 2015.
With over 25 years of competitive experience, the fire in Amnuaysirichoke’s eyes has never changed as the 39-year-old Thai kickboxer still seeks to bring pride and honor to his country.
“It’s so much to do with my life as a martial artist. I train hard everyday even if there’s no scheduled bout. I always make sure to learn new techniques and keep myself healthy. It’s not just my profession. It’s my way of life,” he bared.
“I love to compete against the best out there, I love the process of preparing, and I love being in the cage or in the ring. It’s the warrior’s blood inside me,” Amnuaysirichoke added.
Amnuaysirichoke is coming off a tough setback to Riku Shibuya last December, yielding to the Japanese grappling wizard by way of first-round submission.
With his loss to Shibuya, Amnuaysirichoke has struggled in three of his last four outings in ONE Championship, including his unsuccessful defense of the ONE Strawweight World Championship against Yoshitaka Naito in May 2016.
Although many cageside pundits believe that he should call it a day due to his age, Amnuaysirichoke maintained that he is not yet done in the sport.
“I do not pay attention too much to my age. As they say, it is just a number. I am still enjoying competing, and plan to for a while,” he said.
“I want to show others that if you take care of yourself and are dedicated, you can compete for as long as you want. In the end, it all comes down to discipline and hard work,” Amnuaysirichoke further explained.
Looking to bounce back from a dismal performance this past December, Amnuaysirichoke returns to action to square off with Filipino journeyman Jeremy Miado in the co-headliner of ONE: IRON WILL in Bangkok, Thailand on 24 March.
While Miado is a dangerous Filipino combatant with a great desire to claim his first win in ONE Championship, Amnuaysirichoke views his opponent as a stepping stone to place himself back on the winning track.
“I am extremely determined to win. I have trained hard, I feel prepared, and am confident that I will win. I do not make plans for any particular type of finish, but I am ready wherever the fight goes. I will train hard and do everything I can to make it happen,” he ended