When 20-year-old Australian Muay Thai fighter, Lachlan Ogden walks onto the ONE Championship canvas on February 28 in Singapore, he will have a tough task in front of him. That task comes through Thailand legend Sam-A Gaiyanghadao for the organisation’s inaugural Strawweight Muay Thai title – but taking the easy road is not something that the man known to all as ‘Rocky’ is accustomed to.
“I fought 28-year-olds when I was 17 and they’d had 500 fights, some of the Thais. It kind of just become the normal thing for me,” Ogden proudly told.
Indeed, fighting grown men during his teenage years became a regular part of his fight career. At just 16 years old, Ogden started his journey along a road less traveled for Australian’s his age by moving to Thailand to train and fight professionally.
“I lived in Thailand for 4 years and just fighting every month, training every day and that’s where I got all my skills and had a lot of fights,” he said.
“I didn’t really have anyone my age to fight so I had to fight guys that were a bit older.
“At first you’re not sure if you’re as strong as ’em, which you’re probably not but you just have a go. You’ve gotta take a challenge, you can’t just sit around and fight the easy fights. You can fight the easy fights and stay at that level or you can step up and get better from there. That’s where you start getting your respect.”
Even at such a young age, it is clear that the move has paid off for Ogden and culminated in capturing the World Professional Muay Thai Federation’s (WPMF) Bantamweight title at age 18.
“To win that was amazing… At the gym I was at, he was a really tough trainer – it was my 5th fight with him and (we) got the belt,” Rocky recalled.
“I got noticed by a few of the promoters and some of the big guys in Thailand and they put it together for me. They thought I was worthy enough to fight for it.
“That belt is the only belt recognised by the Thai Government – so to actually fight for a good one and win it in Thailand was a dream come true at the time. It still is.
“Winning a belt against the Thais means so much because it’s such hard work there. They don’t just hand the belts out in Thailand, you’ve really gotta earn it and fight the good guys for it. A lot of places they just throw ’em around and hand ’em out, but in Thailand, it’s very hard to get the belts. So it meant so much.”
Without question, Thailand has become such a pivotal part of Ogden’s young life and it was through his time in the global fighting hotbed that he was able to link up with Muay Thai icon and fellow Australian, John Wayne Parr, who is now one of his current coaches. Rocky was quick to refer to the influence that Parr has had on him and on young fighters more generally.
“Obviously the stuff he’s done in Thailand, especially back then when he did it – no one was living in Thailand, like a foreigner, a westerner. It was so crazy and he was in a really tough Thai gym. For him to do it, it kind of pioneered the sport for foreigners,” he said.
“He’s obviously been a big idol for me and for most of us young fighters.”
It is because of all of his career accomplishments so far that Ogden has been described as a phenomenon and is being touted as a fighter with a bright future in the sport. However, none of this has led to Rocky getting too far ahead of himself. His focus remains singular – fighting on February 28 against current ONE Championship Strawweight Kickboxing Champion, Thailand’s Sam-A Gaiyanghadao.
“Everyone knows Sam-A, if you’re into Muay Thai and follow it in Thailand. Because he’s a bit older, he’s fought a lot of people and he’s Thai, won a lot of belts and he’s got his respect now,” he said.
“I definitely watched videos of him before and looked up to him, watching all of his fights in the stadiums. Now it’s very cool that I’m actually fighting him. It’s crazy.
“I’ve definitely got the youth on my side. I’m not underestimating him but if I can keep the consistency and pressure every round, not letting him get his time and not giving him too much space (to) create room to do things and give him time to think. I’ve gotta be on him, stay strong and move, and hit him as hard as I can.
“He’s definitely pretty slick so I’ve gotta just keep my defence strong and counter. Just be first really.’
This fight will be reasonably different to a majority of Ogden’s career fights, however. The bout will take place under ONE Championship Muay Thai rules – inside of a cage with 4-ounce gloves. While he has fought in similar conditions in the past, Rocky is well aware of the variables that smaller gloves have to offer.
“The little gloves leave a lot of openings. You’ve just gotta be a lot sharper – in and out, moving quick and not just standing there in the pocket. You can get caught so easy and it takes one punch with those little gloves and it ends your night. So you’ve gotta be very sharp and ready for anything,” he said.
In addition to this, with the outbreak of Coronavirus creating International health concerns within the Asia-Pacific region, ONE Championship has made the conscious decision to close the doors of the Singapore Indoor Stadium. In a rare and bizarre twist, this means that the biggest fight of Ogden’s career so far will take place in front of no fans in attendance.
“It definitely sucks and it kills the atmosphere of the fight. You wanna have that experience of all the crowd roaring when you land big shots and when you win,” he said.
“So it’s definitely going to suck having nothing, quiet. But what can you do, with the virus. It’s a tough one.
“We’ve still got the same goal which is go in and get the belt, but it’s definitely upsetting knowing that there’s going to be no one in the crowd.”
This will be nothing but a small asterisk against Ogden’s career record though, as he maintains his focus and aims to put on a great performance in his first fight for the major organisation.
“I definitely want to perform. You want to get in there and show everyone in the division what you’re made of’,” he said.
“For your debut, you definitely want to come in strong and show everyone that you’re there and what you’re made of. You don’t want to be all slow and sloppy. You’ve gotta get everyone thinking that ‘this guys is dangerous’.”
“I’m going to fight my heart out – every round strong and not give up. To fight as hard as I can, stick to my game plan and show ’em what us Aussies are made of and bring that belt home. I’m not going to give up.”
Follow Rocky Ogden on Social Media: @rockyogden on Instagram
ONE Championship – King of the Jungle takes place on Friday February 28 (Prelims 8:30pm, Main Card 11:30pm AEDT) and can be viewed via the ONE Championship App and ONE Championship’s YouTube channel.