5 Biggest Takeaways From ONE 167: Tawanchai Vs. Nattawut II

Rodtang Jitmuangnon

ONE 167: Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II proved to be an emotionally charged affair this past Friday, June 7.

The tone was set inside Bangkok’s Impact Arena with the opening contest, and it continued to intensify throughout the U.S. primetime event, culminating with a high-stakes rematch that had fans and critics yearning for more.

Before we look ahead and prepare for the second half of 2024, let’s take a closer look at the five biggest takeaways from ONE 167.

#1 Are We Ready For A Tawanchai-Nattawut Trilogy?

Fans were mixed after a closely contested three-round kickboxing war between Tawanchai PK Saenchai and “Smokin” Jo Nattawut in October 2023. They wanted more and got it at ONE 167 with five rounds of Muay Thai action, but it may have left even more questions than answers.

Tawanchai started strong in defense of his ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Title. However, Nattawut heated up in the third frame, leaving his Thai compatriot battling into the championship rounds with impaired vision.

With the gold up for grabs, the two warriors gave everything they had in the final three minutes of the rematch. Ultimately, Tawanchai emerged with a majority decision win.

But most people weren’t satisfied.

The PK Saenchai Muaythaigym representative wasn’t exactly over the moon with his win, fans were split on the decision, and ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong admitted during the post-event press conference that he wanted a third fight at ONE 170: Atlanta in November.

Although most trilogies come about due to split victories, these two amazing matches have proven that Tawanchai and Nattawut are equals, and they may actually need one more battle to truly settle the score.

#2 Rodtang Hasn’t Lost His Touch

ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon returned after a year away from the spotlight for a 141.25-pound catchweight kickboxing showdown with Denis “The Bosnian Menace” Puric and unveiled a new version of himself.

Healthy and refreshed, “The Iron Man” displayed smooth footwork and wicked combinations in a nine-minute clash with the Bosnian-Canadian veteran.

Although Puric pushed Rodtang along the way, the Thai megastar was never in danger and returned fire with his trademark aggression to maintain his lead on the scorecards.

Rodtang detailed his trials during recovery in a tearful post-fight victory interview, thanking his fans for their support and calling for the long-awaited kickboxing tilt against Takeru Segawa.

The Thai’s return showed he is ready for the marquee match fans have been clamoring for with evolving tactics, improved technique, and an unwavering fighting spirit.

#3 Kade Ruotolo & Adrian Lee Could Be A Problem In MMA

The global fan base may have caught a glimpse of the lightweight MMA division’s future with two extraordinary professional debuts.

Adrian “The Phenom” Lee followed in his siblings’ footsteps with a finish in his first outing on the global stage.

Antonio Mammarella was game, but the 18-year-old American delivered on his hype by securing a second-round submission victory.

ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Champion Kade Ruotolo was next.

The 21-year-old Californian flashed his developing striking repertoire before doing what he does best: taking people down and submitting them. Ruotolo locked in a rear-naked choke, leaving Hawaii’s Blake Cooper no choice but to tap out.

There was no sign that the stage was too big or the challenge was too steep. Both young guns gave a glimpse into what the lightweight MMA division must prepare for in the coming years.

#4 Mikey Musumeci Is An Animal When He Has Something To Prove

ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion Mikey Musumeci moved up to the bantamweight division with the intention of exacting revenge on Gabriel Sousa, who was the last person to defeat and finish him back in 2021.

Quickly to the canvas, the two men looked for leg locks. As they jockeyed for position, Musumeci caught his Brazilian foe in a calf slicer that forced his rival to tap at the 3:07 mark of the single 10-minute round.

Musumeci followed his sterling performance with a fiery post-fight interview, admitting that his anger with Sousa’s social media comments over the past few years was a driving force for his motivation.

It begs the question: will the same “Darth Rigatoni” arrive at ONE 168: Denver as he moves up even further to challenge Ruotolo for the ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Championship?

If so, fans should expect an electric submission battle between the two superstars.

#5 Denice Zamboanga Sends A Message To Stamp Fairtex

ONE 167 was supposed to be Denice Zamboanga’s opportunity at the ONE Women’s Atomweight MMA World Championship. However, after Stamp Fairtex was forced to withdraw due to injury, she had to defend her #2 ranking in the division against Noelle Grandjean.

The Filipina embodied her nickname, “The Menace,” from her walk to the Circle. A shredded Zamboanga looked imposing, showing the fruits of her labor in preparing for five hard rounds against Stamp.

For 15 straight minutes, the 27-year-old displayed her technical improvements in all facets of the game. Grandjean’s toughness and grit kept her in the contest, but Zamboanga was simply too dominant.

“The Menace” silenced her critics, and she sent a message to Stamp that she will be ready for her shot at the gold when her friend is healthy and ready to compete again.

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