TEENAGE THAI STAR PONGSIRI MITSATIT IS LOOKING TO PROVE HIMSELF WITH FULL METAL DOJO, WRITES JAMES GOYDER.
THAI strawweight Pongsiri Mitsatit made his MMA debut a little over six months ago and already holds a perfect professional record of 3-0.
At 18 years old he has plenty of potential to improve and the teenager is hoping he will have another breakout year in 2015.
Mitsatit comes from a conventional Muay Thai background but became disillusioned by what he considered to be corruption in the sport and subsequently switched his focus to MMA.
“I have had 59 Muay Thai fights and currently hold two North Thailand belts, I am the current 115 lbs Loh Kroh Stadium Champion and the Chiang Mai province champion, I have had many offers to fight Muay Thai in Bangkok but the promoters don’t have my best interests in mind, it’s all about money but I feel MMA in Thailand is more about the sport.”
In Thailand it is normal for young Muay Thai fighters in the provinces to compete every couple of weeks and despite being a seasoned veteran in Western terms Mitsatit has been learning martial arts for less than three years.
“I first started fighting at 16 years old because I was always the smallest kid growing up and a lot of people picked on me,” he tells ROUGH.
“When I first came to Team Quest I was only training Muay Thai but as I grew more comfortable around foreigners I started to watch some of the MMA practices and noticed how detailed the techniques were. I started training MMA about a year ago and I feel in love with the sport.”
Team Quest Thailand is located in the northern city of Chiang Mai, close to the border with Myanmar and is home to top Canadian featherweight Jeremy Kennedy, ONE FC veteran Tanaphong Khunhankaew and recent PXC debutant Mark Abelardo.
Mitsatit followed in the footsteps of team mates like Dylan Fussell when he fought on Full Metal Dojo’s inaugural Bangkok show last month and says it was the highlight of his career so far.
“I was very happy with my performance because the promoter, Jon Nutt, was very excited about my fight and told us it was the best Thai vs Thai fight he had ever seen. I still have a lot of stuff to improve but I am working on that every day at Team Quest Thailand.”
I FIRST STARTED FIGHTING AT 16 YEARS OLD BECAUSE I WAS ALWAYS THE SMALLEST KID GROWING UP AND A LOT OF PEOPLE PICKED ON ME.
His first two fights were for small scale promotions, one in Koh Samui and one in Chiang Mai, but Mitsatit feels that having an event which allows mixed martial artists from across the country and beyond to compete with one another will help to raise the standard of the sport in Thailand.
“Full Metal Dojo is the best MMA promotion in Thailand so the competition is going to be much tougher there. All the best from each province will eventually fight for Full Metal Dojo if they want to compete with the best in Thailand.”
Fighting on the big stage in Bangkok was a special moment for Mitsatis because he hails from the most rural background imaginable and grew up a long way from the country’s capital.
“I am from the province of Chiang Mai but my home is about four hours away from the city in a very small mountain village with only about 200 people named Om Koi. The nearest city hall is 30 km away but it takes over two hours to get there by four wheel drive because the roads are so bad. During the raining season you cannot even use the road because of how muddy it gets.”
As a child Mitsatit left his village behind and moved to the comparatively bright lights of Chiang Mai and had been making ends meet as a jack of all trades before being offered the opportunity to settle down full time at Team Quest Chiang Mai.
“In the past I have done many jobs, I moved out on my own at a very early age and used to work as a motor bike mechanic and also at a local restaurant. Since joining Team Quest they have given me a free room and encouraged me to attend school while also focusing on fighting so I have been able to live off my Muay Thai fight purses.”
ONE FC is rumoured to be opening up a 115 lbs division in 2015 and if Mitsatit can continue with his current winning streak he would be a prime candidate to compete for Asia’s biggest MMA promotion and possibly even challenge for the belt.
Starting out at such a young age and being based full time in an MMA gym he has plenty of potential to improve and the teenager hopes his rise through the ranks will be mirrored by an increase of interest in the sport in his homeland.
“MMA is growing very fast in Thailand because it’s exciting, the fighters fight hard from the start and gambling is not common yet so the sport is still pure. I think that eventually MMA could become more popular than Muay Thai.”