Chan Rothana is a household name in Kun Khmer circles, but more recently he has been at the forefront of Khmer fighters mixing traditional Khmer martial arts like Yutakhun Khom, of which Rothana is a proponent, with Mixed Martial Arts for the Mega Asian MMA promotion ONE Championship.
In December, ONE will return to Koh Pich Theatre in Phnom Penh for ‘ONE: Kingdom of Khmer’, which will pit featherweight Rothana against rival Cambodian Mixed Martial Artist Sam Ang Dun in a much awaited rematch from last year’s ‘ONE: Rise of the Kingdom’. Rothana was disqualified for an illegal stomp – something which he maintained was accidental – yet was adamant he is stronger now.
“Compared to last year, I am more experienced and prepared, I know Sam Ang Dung better, so I am confident. I want to win for my family, my friends, the Selapak community and my country to continue the road in One Championship until the top,” he said. “There is no problem between Sam An Dung and me, what happen last year is the past. We went together to the training camp in February 2015 because NagaWorld offered both of us the same prize following the controversy on September 14. We are not close friends, we are very different but he is a fighter like me. He is Khmer like me so I respect him.”
The Kun Khmer pugilist last turned out for ONE in their Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia event dubbed ONE: Age of Champions earlier this year. The Cambodian bettered his opponent, Ramon Gonzales from the Philippines, and earned a TKO in the very first round after referee Olivier Coste stepped in to award Rothana the fight. Rothana was pleased with his performance and thanked his solid preparation at Tiger Muay Thai camp in Phuket, Thailand.
“Even if I won in the first round, it was not an easy fight because Ramon is a strong guy, with lots of Karate competition and more experience than me in MMA [eight fights],” said Rothana. “I was well prepared with my training camp at Tiger Muay Thai where I concentrated on the ground work because I was sure he will try to bring me there. Instead, he tried special kicks and exposed himself, giving me the opportunity to control and finish early. A fight is a fight; you win, you lose. From my experience in Kun Khmer.”
Rothana has also found time to spend some of his winnings on little extravagances. He acquired a Tuk Tuk to help ferry his children to and from school. “After my first participation in ONE September 14, I used the purse to purchase a tuk tuk,” he said. “I have two daughters and we used to pay for a tuk tuk every day to bring them to school and this was too expensive for us. Now I can drive my family when we want to go together to any place.”
A devoted family man, Rothana credits the faith and support of his family in helping him stay grounded and focused in his search to become a ONE champion. “My family is central in my life, and they help and they support me at every step. My father is the one who taught me martial arts. He is a Grand Master of Yutakhun Khom, the Angkorian martial art. He and my mother always came to see me when I used to fight in Kun Khmer,” Rothana said. “My wife is French and although she sometimes worries, she makes sure I am ready for each fight and takes care of me.”
The couple has two daughters yet also find time to run a successful fight training school in Phnom Penh. “My two daughters understand that daddy has a different job than other dads. They are young and they do not want me to get hurt,” says Rothana. “I also have a very good team always pushing me to be better; my agent (Benoit) who is working hard to make sure I can concentrate in training, my students at Selapak who always have a good word and a smile for me. I am lucky to have such a good environment.”
Photo credit: Maxime Berriot
Rothana Looks for Redemption
Khmer Times/Ismail Vorajee
Thursday, 26 November 2015