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Sam-A celebrates a knockout win over Ryan Sheehan. Photos: ONE Championship.

ONE Championship Friday Fights 9: Sam-A Gaiyanghadao posts bonus-winning KO in comeback bout

  • 39-year old former champ returned to ONE after two years away, and scored an impressive second-round KO against Ireland’s Ryan Sheehan
  • Later in the night, bantamweight veteran Muangthai P.K. Saenchai earned a bonus of his own with a vicious knockout of Kulabdam Sor Jor Piek Uthai

Sam-A Gaiyanghadao put forth a vintage performance in his comeback fight at ONE Championship Friday Fights 9 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The 39-year-old Thai returned to action against Ireland’s Ryan Sheehan at the event in the famed Lumpinee Boxing Stadium. It was his first fight in ONE since 2021, when he retired from international competition.

It was like he never left.

The Thai, who has competed in well over 350 fights, was in control of the action from the opening bell until the 2:52 mark of round two, when he sent his foe crashing to the canvas for a knockout win.

“First and foremost I have to thank [ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong] for giving me the opportunity to be here,” he said in his post-fight interview with commentator Mitch Chilson, with a big smile on his face. “I just proved to to myself that age is just a number.”

The victory was good for a 350,000 baht (US$10,000) bonus courtesy of Chatri, which only sweetened the moment for the resurgent 39-year-old.

Sam-A, who has been training in Muay Thai since he was only nine, first touched ONE gold in 2018, when he became the promotion’s first flyweight Muay Thai champion with a decision victory over Sergio Wielzen.

While he lost that belt to England’s Jonathan Haggerty in his first title defence, he ultimately found new life at strawweight, where he first became the division’s inaugural kickboxing champion with a decision win over Wang Junguang in 2019, and then its inaugural Muay Thai champion with a decision victory over Rocky Ogden in 2020.

Former ONE kickboxing and Muay Thai champion Sam-A Gaiyanghadao.

He defended his strawweight Muay Thai belt once, with a second-round TKO of Josh Tonna in 2020, but surrendered the title to fellow Thai Prajanchai P.K. Saenchai the following year.

After that setback, he announced his retirement from international competition, and relinquished the strawweight Muay Thai belt in the process. He has fought twice outside the ONE banner since, winning a pair of decisions in Bangkok’s Rajadamnern Stadium.

Soon after Sam-A won his comeback fight, ONE bantamweight Muay Thai veteran Muangthai P.K. Saenchai scored a devastating knockout win over his fellow Thai Kulabdam Sor Jor Piek Uthai. It was his fourth fight with his countryman, and his third consecutive win under the ONE banner.

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It was also good for a post-fight bonus.

“I had a lot of people put pressure on me and say I would get knocked out,” he said in his post-fight interview. “I have a long history with Kulabdam. I felt a lot of pressure coming into this fight. I feel so much better now.”

Other bonus winners for the Friday card in Bangkok included Russia’s Tagir Khalilov, who is 350,000 baht richer after a quick knockout of Black Panther in a flyweight Muay Thai clash, and Myanmar’s Sulaiman Looksuan, who impressed with a second-round KO of Chaongoh Jitmuangnon at a 134-pound catchweight.

“I’m really happy,” Sulaiman said in his post-fight interview. “My father is sick, he’s in the hospital. I’ll use this money to help him.”

Thailand’s Yodlekpet Or Atchariya also earned a bonus for his second-round knockout of Saman Ashouri, which came at a 140-pound catchweight.

Neither Seksan Or Kwanmuang nor Silviu Vitez scored a knockout in their 14o-pound catchweight clash, but both men earned bonuses for the frenetic, three-round war, which the former won by unanimous decision.

“I want to thank Chatri Sityodtong for this amazing gift,” Seksan said after receiving his bonus. “I will save this money for my children’s education.”

See the complete results for ONE Friday Fights 9 below

  • Lightweight Muay Thai championship: Regian Eersel defeats Sinsamut Klinmee via knockout at 1:17 of round four

  • Bantamweight Muay Thai: Muangthai PK Saenchai defeats Kulabdam Sor Jor Piek Uthai via knockout at 1:37 of round three

  • Strawweight Muay Thai: Sam-A Gaiyanghadao defeats Ryan Sheehan via knockout at 2:52 of round two

  • Catchweight (121lbs) Muay Thai: Petjeeja Lukjaoporongtom defeats Fani Peloumpi via TKO at 1:38 of round two

  • Catchweight (134lbs) Muay Thai: Sulaiman Looksuan defeats Chaongoh Jitmuangnon via knockout at 1:30 of round two

  • Catchweight (140lbs) Muay Thai: Seksan Or Kwanmuang defeats Silviu Vitez via unanimous decision

  • Catchweight (140lbs) Muay Thai: Yodlekpet Or Atchariya defeats Saman Ashouri via knockout at 0:27 of round two

  • Flyweight Muay Thai: Tagir Khalilov defeats Black Panther via knockout at 2:04 of round one

  • Flyweight MMA: Tatsumitsu Wada defeats Ernesto Montilla via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:52 of round one

  • Catchweight (159lbs) MMA: Yoon Chang-min defeats Kirill Gorobets via split decision

  • Flyweight Muay Thai: Nakrob Fairtex defeats Chen Jiayi via TKO at 2:45 of round two