Orono Wor Petchpun was one of the best Muay Thai fighters of his generation and was a Lumpini Champion, WMC Champion, It's Showtime Champion and WPMF Champion. He holds wins over Damien Alamos, Singdam Kiatmoo 9, Saenchai Sor Kingstar, Buakaw Por Pramuk and Yodsaenklai Fairtex but has not fought since 2010.
Orono is now at Evolve MMA in Singapore where he is part of a team of Thai trainers which also includes Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn, Anuwat Kaewsamrit, Attachai Fairtex and Yodsanan Sityodtong. He also works as a stand up coach for a number of top mixed martial artists like Shinya Aoki, Zorobabel Moreira and Eddie Ng and recently decided that he too wanted to compete in MMA.
Orono is only 33 years old and has had just 150 Muay Thai fights in his career which is relatively few for a Thai fighter. He believes he still has plenty more to offer as a fighter and could be a force to be reckoned with at 145 lbs,
"I have watched a lot of MMA now and I understand that it is not the same as Muay Thai at all, although some things are the same. I think I can be very dangerous with my elbows in MMA because most fighters don't use elbows very much but I have to be careful because in Muay Thai there are no takedowns so MMA is not the same."
Yodsanan recently made a succesful MMA debut in front of 7,000 fans in Singapore at ONE FC 1 and Orono was also in Jakarta to corner his Evolve MMA team mates for ONE FC 2. The sight of such a big crowd stirred something inside of him and has rekindled his desire to test himself in the competitive arena again,
"Before I came to Singapore last year I did not know too much about MMA but as I started to work with the Evolve fighters and go to the big ONE FC events I started to think that I can be an MMA fighter too. I see them punching and kicking and I think 'I can do that no problem' and I see them doing some other things and I think 'I can learn that no problem'. I have fought in Lumpini Stadium and Rajadamnern Stadium many times and it can be very loud but mainly the fans like to gamble. At MMA the fans just come to cheer for the fighters and I want them to cheer for me one day. I like to help training and working in the corner but the best feeling is when I fight!"
Orono has already started training BJJ and wrestling every day with coaches like US Olympican Heath Sims and BJJ world champions Rafael Correa De Lima and Leandro Issa so the other aspects of his game should be getting up to speed. I suggest to him that in terms of stand up there is not a single MMA fighter at 145 lbs who could compete with him and he does not disagree,
"I don't know, maybe there is someone in MMA with better Muay Thai than me but I think it is impossible. I have fought over 100 times against some very strong fighters like Saenchai, Buakaw, Yodsaenklai, Singdam and Nong O. I don't think any MMA fighters would be good enough to fight against fighters like this at Muay Thai but they are dangerous at other things like BJJ and wrestling. If it was a Muay Thai fight I think I could still beat any MMA fighter in the world who is the same size as me but MMA is not the same as Muay Thai."
Orono's career has already had it's highlights and he has fought in Holland, Italy, Sweden and Japan, However his favourite memory is still winnning the Lumpini title at 130 lbs, which is traditionally one of the most competitive weight classes in Thailand,
"Every time I won a title I was very happy and winning the Lumpini title for the first time was a very good moment for me in my life and for my family as well because after that I knew I would get more money for my fights."
He also has no hesitation in naming the most difficult opponent he has ever been up against,
"I have faced many strong fighters but I believe the toughest was Saenchai Sor Kingstar. I was able to defeat him but it was the most difficult victory of my career and I respect him very much."
Orono is eager to make his MMA debut and says he would be very interested in fighting for DARE Championship, an organization which is currently putting on shows in Bangkok every other month. His coaches are taking a more patient approach but he believes fans won't have to wait long to see him fight again,
"I want to fight today but that is up to my coaches and up to Chatri (Chatri Sityodtong, the Evolve MMA owner) so they can tell me when they think I am ready because I know MMA is dangerous and if you make only a small mistake you can lose the fight. If it was up to me I would fight today. I would love the opportunity to fight in Bangkok in front of all my friends, family, coaches, and fans. I would be very proud to show everyone back home my MMA skills."