5 Burning Questions That Will Be Answered At ONE 167: Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II

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ONE 167: Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II on Prime Video is one of the most fascinating cards of 2024 to date, offering intriguing narratives from top to bottom. 

From highly anticipated debuts to a World Championship rematch, all 11 contests bring intriguing storylines that will be resolved in U.S. primetime this Friday, June 7.  

With just a few days until the action goes down, here are five burning questions that will be answered at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand

#1 Can ‘Smokin’ Jo Pull Off The Upset? 

Many striking aficionados were shocked by how close “Smokin” Jo Nattawut fought Tawanchai PK Saenchai in their three-round kickboxing clash last October. 

The 34-year-old Thai stepped in on late notice to replace Superbon at ONE Fight Night 15 and gave his compatriot plenty of problems with his clubbing punches and hard low kicks.  

Tawanchai walked away with the razor-thin decision win, but Nattawut won the hearts of the fans with his gutsy display. 

Was it a case of the stand-in exceeding expectations, or with a few adjustments, can “Smokin” Jo convert a tight decision loss into a victory when they rematch for Tawanchai’s ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Title this week? 

Although Nattawut’s concussive hands now have 15 minutes to land, Tawanchai will be more prepared for his style, and the reigning king is known as a cerebral fighter who grows stronger with time.  

The element of surprise may have been on Nattawut’s side last time, although with a full camp, he could be more prepared to combat the finesse of his younger rival.

#2 Whose Words Will Ring True – Rodtang’s or Puric’s?  

Neither Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon nor Denis “The Bosnian Menace” Puric have held back in the leadup to their flyweight kickboxing clash. 

Puric was the instigator by repeatedly calling out the longtime ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion, and with his wish finally granted, the 39-year-old has vowed to “make a fool” of Rodtang.

Nobody has managed to do that yet, so it’s a big claim from “The Bosnian Menace,” who truly believes he owns the power and style to claim the biggest scalp of his long career. 

On the other hand, Rodtang has promised to show the Canadian-Bosnian “what hell on earth is.”

To his credit, “The Iron Man” has forced many opponents to endure the harsh reality of standing in front of someone who will never back down no matter what gets thrown at him. 

Puric claims his own firepower is a big equalizer that can produce a monumental win – but only one man’s statement can ultimately ring true this Friday.

#3 Can Gabriel Sousa Finish Mikey Musumeci Again?  

Gabriel Sousa sent the grappling world into a frenzy when he submitted Mikey “Darth Rigatoni” Musumeci with a north-south choke back in 2021.  

Few thought the Brazilian would even be able to pass Musumeci’s vaunted guard, but he blitzed through it before choking out the American. 

That loss lit a fire underneath “Darth Rigatoni.” He’s since won 14 straight matches on a blistering run that has seen him claim and defend the ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Title.  

In their first meeting, it appeared Sousa had a size advantage, which helped with his intense top game. But with Musumeci moving up to bantamweight for this battle, he’s bulked up and looks more athletic than ever. 

Plus, “Darth Rigatoni” has already competed under the bright lights of ONE Championship many times, while Sousa will have to deal with the big-show nerves in his promotional debut.  

Will the Brazilian’s mental edge from his prior win be enough to line up a similar result, or can Musumeci get his revenge and extend his streak?

#4 How Will Liam Harrison Look After Two Years Away?

Liam “Hitman” Harrison came close to retirement after suffering a devastating knee injury in his World Title challenge of Nong-O Hama in August 2022. 

The 38-year-old British legend went an entire calendar year without competing for the first time in 2023, but despite several setbacks, he says he now feels as strong as ever before his scheduled return against Katsuki Kitano.  

After initially targeting one more super-fight to round out his iconic career, “Hitman” won’t write off a longer-term vision and plans to make a statement versus Kitano.

Training and fighting are different animals, though Harrison has competed enough to know when his body is firing on all cylinders – and that could spell trouble for his foe. 

The Japanese striker has a big chance as he prepares to face a high-profile opponent after a long layoff. Neither man can be reckless as Kitano seeks to make a name for himself and “Hitman” aims to prove he’s still a legitimate World Title threat.

#5 Will Kade Ruotolo’s Elite Grappling Lead To MMA Success? 

It’s not a given that an elite grappler will transition smoothly into mixed martial arts. Some have done it well, while others have fallen at the first hurdle. 

ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Champion Kade Ruotolo is adamant that he’s scrappy enough to switch seamlessly when he faces Blake Cooper in his MMA debut this Friday – but everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. 

Cooper has more experience in the all-around sport, growing up around it just like Ruotolo grew up in BJJ. His father and older brother were both professional fighters, so while the Hawaiian likely can’t match his rival’s credentials on the mat, fighting is ingrained into his DNA

There’s no doubt Cooper can hang with the rough-and-tumble in every range, but how will Ruotolo react when he gets his first chin-check? 

The 21-year-old grappling superstar certainly has the skills to become a formidable force in MMA, but will his heart match it when the Circle door closes? 

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