Phoe “Bushido” Thaw (6-0) is ready for the toughest challenge of his mixed martial arts career.
On Friday, 26 October, the undefeated hero will square off against Malaysian sensation Keanu Subba (6-3) at ONE: PURSUIT OF GREATNESS, which emanates from the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in his hometown of Yangon, Myanmar.
The 33-year-old knows he will have his hands full with the experienced and battle-tested warrior, but he feels confident ahead of the featherweight tilt.
“He has a pretty good ground game, and he has already faced some of the best fighters in mixed martial arts,” Phoe Thaw acknowledges.
“He’s also a senior fighter, so this is a very good fight for me. I’m really sure this is going to be a very exciting fight.”
Of his six professional victories, “Bushido” has won five via strikes.
When he steps into the cage to meet Subba in Yangon, another knockout win would be the ideal outcome. However, he is not prepared to make a prediction for the bout.
Phoe Thaw’s only mission is to compete to the best of his ability, as he knows his Malaysian rival will do the same.
“I hope [to win by knockout], but I always give respect to my opponents,” the ONE Myanmar Featherweight Tournament 2016 Champion says.
“I don’t want to predict what the result will be, but I always do my best inside the cage, no matter who my opponent is. I don’t care about his strengths or weaknesses. I’m going to concentrate on the weaknesses and opportunities in the cage, not before the fight.”
This contest is a tremendous opportunity for Phoe Thaw.
His adversary represents a step up in competition, and a victory will improve his own station in the talent-packed division and bring him closer to a ONE Featherweight World Title shot against reigning champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen.
The Myanmar native has considered this possibility, and it excites him greatly.
“There are many fighters who are better than me, and they also have some pretty good experience,” he admits.
“They have been involved in mixed martial arts longer than me, but I have a good background, and I’m going to be a title contender. After I beat Subba, I want to be a title contender [and challenge] the champion in my weight division.”
Winning the top prize in the sport would be a phenomenal achievement for Phoe Thaw, but his reasons for wrapping the gold around his waist go beyond personal gain.
The main reason he wants to bring the ONE Featherweight World Championship back to Myanmar is that he believes it would motivate the people of his homeland.
“People just notice [people] who prove themselves,” he explains. “There is only one way to prove we’re the best – to get a belt. That’s how we prove we’ve been working very hard in training camp.
“[If I have a belt], I have evidence to prove that I’ve trained very hard. It would be some kind of inspiration to the next generation. If I have something to hold in my hand – a belt or a trophy or something – it’s very easy to inspire the people. It’s the best example to inspire the next generation.”
While “Bushido” is hopeful that a win over Subba at ONE: PURSUIT OF GREATNESS will propel him towards the highest honor of his career, he says his main focus is the task at hand – like it always is.
If he does not get his hand raised after he competes in front of his compatriots next week, he knows he can kiss his dreams of World Title glory goodbye.
“As long as I am fighting, I’m focused on winning and defeating every opponent,” Phoe Thaw says. “That is my idea. Those are my feelings when I’m in the cage. Every fight is very important in my life.”