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Liam Harrison and Superlek Kiatmoo9 pose for a photo at Yokkai Training Centre in Bangkok. Photo: Instagram/@superlek789

ONE Championship: Liam Harrison picks ‘animal’ Superlek to win Muay Thai Grand Prix

  • ‘The Hitman’ backs his Bangkok training partner to upset the odds in the tournament, despite the presence of Rodtang Jitmuangnon
  • Britain’s Harrison predicts an ‘explosion’ in his ONE on Prime Video 1 title fight with bantamweight Muay Thai champ Nong-O Gaiyanghadao

Rodtang Jitmuangnon may be the favourite to win ONE Championship’s flyweight Muay Thai Grand Prix, but Liam Harrison is picking “animal” Superlek Kiatmoo9 to upset the odds.

The tournament will resume on August 27, when the martial arts promotion makes its Amazon Prime Video debut with a stacked card from Singapore. The semi-finals will see Rodtang face Savvas Michael, with Superlek battling Walter Goncalves.

“The Hitman” Harrison is second from top on the ONE on Prime Video 1 bill, taking on Nong-O Gaiyanghadao for the bantamweight Muay Thai title in the co-main event.

The Briton has been fine-tuning his preparations for the last couple of weeks at Yokkao Training Centre in Bangkok, Thailand – and has got a close-up look at Superlek in some hard sparring sessions.

“I’m training alongside Superlek at the minute and I don’t see anyone beating him,” Harrison told the Post. “He’s an absolute animal. I see Superlek as winning the tournament.

“I think Walter is a good fighter and he does carry a bit of a snap in his shots. But I just can’t see past Superlek winning comfortably.

“I’ve been sparring with him, clinching with him this week, and watching him train. He’s an absolute beast.”

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Thailand’s “Iron Man” Rodtang is of course ONE’s flyweight Muay Thai champion, though his belt is not on the line in the tournament.

Still, Harrison is uncertain if hell will even make it to the final, given the ring savvy of his Cypriot opponent Michael.

“I can’t call that fight,” the 36-year-old said. “People are writing Savvas off, but if there’s one foreigner who could beat him it is Savvas.

“But Rodtang is an absolute beast, too. I don’t know. Most people are going to pick Rodtang but Savvas is my friend, and I want him to win. Obviously, me wanting him to win and when it comes down to the fight is a different story. But Savvas has levelled up.”

Rodtang Jitmuangnon throws a punch at Jacob Smith.

The Saturday morning card – which will air on prime time on Friday, August 26 in the US on Amazon’s streaming service – will also feature a Grand Prix alternate bout between former champion Jonathan Haggerty of the UK, and Malaysia’s Amir Naseri.

And while he is proud to be the top billed Muay Thai fight on the card, given the names and reputations of some of the fighters involved, Harrison feels it is nothing less than he deserves.

“It is an honour, but at the end of the day, all the other Westerner fighters on this card, I’ve had twice as many fights, twice as much experience, been fighting at the top level way longer than any of them,” he said.

“That’s where I belong – on cards this big, as the co-main event and the headlining Muay Thai fight. That’s definitely where I should be.”

Liam Harrison celebrates beating Muanghtai at ONE 156.
Harrison may have won a US$100,000 performance bonus last time out in May for his stunning comeback win over Muangthai, but he is under no illusions as to the size of the task at hand against the fearsome Thai champion Nong-O.

“I’ve got nothing to lose,” Harrison said. “It’s his title. He’s the favourite, I’m the underdog. Most people are already writing me off. I can go in there and let my bombs go and enjoy myself.

“He’s definitely up there as one of the hardest tests, an absolute legend of the sport. He’s got explosive power, but so do I. So it could come down to whoever lands that massive bomb first. But either way, it’s just gonna be an exciting fight for the fans.

“It will be nothing but drama and action. Two of the hardest-hitting 65kg fighters on the planet. So expect nothing other than an explosion.

“On Amazon Prime, it’ll be good for them to see some real top-level striking, especially in the four-ounce MMA gloves. They’re unforgiving. You’re going to see a lot of knockouts, damage and exciting fights, so it will be good for the new audience.”