Danial Williams can hardly believe the opportunity he now has, when he steps in on short notice to fight Thai superstar Rodtang Jitmuangnon at ONE on TNT 1.
What started as a night at the pub, ended in a contract with ONE Championship, one of the largest sporting properties on Earth.
“I just hit up ONE and said ‘look, I want to fight’, just to try my luck and say ‘I’m a Muay Thai world champion and I’m doing MMA now’. When I sent the email it was just after a pub night, just being a hero like ‘ah just give them a message’ and I sort of forgot about it. I got a message to say ‘hey, I want to chat with you’ and I was like ‘holy sh*t’, walking the dog with my missus and I said ‘wouldn’t it be funny if they offered me Rodtang?’ Then boom!”
Williams, a former WMC world champion in Muay Thai, has since tried his hand in MMA. The 26-year-old now holds a 3-1 record in the sport and feels that MMA is where is passion currently lies. However, the chance to fight Rodtang under Muay Thai rules was too good to pass up, and it wasn’t a hard sell.
“Literally that was the conversation, like 20 minutes of ‘look, we know you want to do MMA, but we’re not really looking for MMA fighters, but we need some Muay Thai fighters.’ I was like ‘yeah man, I’m open for anything, I need this right now.’ So yeah, it got me off my arse and here I am.”
Originally targeted to take on another unnamed foe, Williams got the call to fight Rodtang when his original opponent Jacob Smith, of the UK, was unable to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the fight is not under ideal circumstances given the short notice, he plans to make the best of it.
“I got a call about four weeks ago saying that there is an opportunity to fight, but obviously it only got confirmed two weeks out, because they weren’t sure if his opponent would be able to get in (to Singapore).
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I just have to make it work, it is what it is.”
The opportunity to fight Rodtang, one of the biggest stars in ONE Championship today, may have seemingly arrived out of nowhere, but Williams is not travelling to Singapore to simply make up the numbers. The Thai superstar’s style, he believes, coupled with the fact that he has nothing to lose is perfect for a short-notice opponent.
“It’s going to be tough, but I’ve got huge belief. I love these fights where I’ve got nothing to lose. I feel he’s a good fight for me, some of the technical guys wouldn’t be a good fight for me right now, but the fact that he trades means there is always a chance.
Rodtang carries a Mike Tyson-esque aura in the ONE circle, but Williams believes he won’t be overawed, a trap that previous opponents have fallen into.
“We’ll just see how his power is, but I do plan to just have fun in there as well and try some flashy moves. But stick to the plan first, don’t go too crazy when we touch gloves. Obviously, meet him in the middle, but don’t just brawl because that’s what he wants, and it’s how he wins too.
“I’ve seen a lot of opponents of his on the back foot, probably for a good reason as well, he is Rodtang. But, it’s just not my style of fighting to run away from all his shots, hit him, move and try to get a points decision.”
Returning to his Muay Thai roots may not have been a part of the plan for Williams, but he now plans to take his opportunity with both hands. The rest, as they say, will sort itself out.
“My focus is on Muay Thai for this fight, then we’ll see where it goes. The contract is for both Muay Thai and MMA.”
Regardless of the discipline, a win over Rodtang would be the best way possible to announce himself to the ONE audience, in American primetime, no less.
“It’s going to be tough as sh*t, but I really believe I can pull it off.”