Filipino Fighter Falls in Love With Cambodia

When ONE Warrior Series (OWS) breakout star and ONE Championship athlete Rockie Bactol visited Cambodia for the first time last week, he did not expect to instantly fall in love with “The Kingdom Of Wonder.”

The Filipino is visiting the country with his head coach, former ONE competitor Nicholas “JJ” Lee, and together, they are aiming to invest both time and effort into building the Cambodian mixed martial arts scene.

Bactol and Lee are working closely with Cambodian Top Team’s leader Hun Chan Reach and some of the gym’s prime athletes including Rin Saroth and Sim Bunsrun.


Even though most visitors experience somewhat of a culture shock when arriving in Cambodia, the same cannot be said about the flyweight’s experience.

“It’s my very, very first time here, and I’m loving this country,” the 19-year-old shares.

“The first time I stepped out of the airport in Cambodia, I was like, ‘What a paradise!’ You feel that chill vibe, the good people. Cambodians got no ego.”

Just like local Cambodian-Nigerian star Emmanuel Onyedikachi, Bactol had the chance to showcase his talent in OWS.

In March, he made his professional debut on the program’s inaugural live event and finished his adversary, Mark Cuizon, via key lock in the first round.

With the victory, the Bangkok-based Filipino earned a contract with ONE Championship and made his promotional debut at ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS this past November.

He traded punches and attacked Japanese veteran Akihiro Fujisawa with takedowns and submission attempts, but was ultimately finished via TKO late in the third round.

Bactol has grown from that experience, however, and now, he is enjoying some downtime in Cambodia. Soon, he will return to Bangkok and get back into training camp.

“I will go back home to Bangkok, spend Christmas with family and friends, and resume my training. Then fight again in ONE Championship,” Bactol explains.

“I’m just waiting for a fight, healing my injuries, and doing rehab. I’m planning to step back into the cage again by March or April. I hope me and Rin [Saroth] will be fighting on the same card next time.”

Training with some of Cambodia’s most accomplished competitors has given Bactol deep respect for the Khmer warrior spirit, and he hopes to come back as soon as possible and train with Cambodian Top Team.

“The first thing I have to point out is the heart, the discipline, and the humility [of the team members]. You roll with them, you train with them, and they just don’t give up,” Bactol admits.

“It’s been a very cool experience. If my coach decides to do my next camp over here, then that would be great.”

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