Tawanchai Scoops ONE’s 2022 Muay Thai Fighter Of The Year Award
There were plenty of Muay Thai stars who thrilled fans inside the Circle with spectacular fights throughout 2022.
But none did it better than Thailand’s very own Tawanchai PK.Saenchai, who’s officially been announced as ONE’s 2022 Muay Thai Fighter of the Year.
The Bangkok-based striker enjoyed a memorable 12 months on the global stage, gaining a trio of victories, two knockouts, a hefty US$50,000 performance bonus, and to top it all off, the ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Title in September.
But like every success story, some sacrifices had to be made. One of which was his friendship with Saemapetch Fairtex, as the pair dueled at ONE: HEAVY HITTERS on January 14.
Tawanchai vowed that he would have no issues separating their close personal bond with business, and he stuck true to his word by making quick work of the #1-ranked bantamweight Muay Thai contender.
The finish came quickly, as the generational talent sent his Thai counterpart down on all fours with a stinging straight left at the 2:55 mark of the opening frame.
However, after struggling to make the bantamweight mark of 145 pounds, Tawanchai told Circle-side announcer Mitch Chilson during the post-fight interview that he would move back up to featherweight in his pursuit of gold.
ONE Championship’s matchmakers took notice of those words, presenting the Thai striker with a ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Title eliminator clash versus Niclas “Dreamchaser” Larsen in the main event of ONE 158 just five months later.
Needless to say, Tawanchai was impressive once again.
The 23-year-old countered the Danish athlete’s aggression from the get-go, showcasing slick movement to avoid Larsen’s attacks while replying with stinging punching combinations, body kicks, and elbows.
By the 1:42 mark of the second frame, Tawanchai’s straight left sealed the deal once again, earning him a US$50,000 performance bonus and a shot at Petchmorakot Petchyindee’s featherweight Muay Thai gold.
The rising superstar’s crowning moment then came at ONE 161 on September 29.
That evening in Singapore, Tawanchai captured the throne from the man who had sat atop the division for almost three years – and he did it with a performance for the ages.
Just like his past appearances, the challenger advanced into the pocket and rarely missed the target. Petchmorakot did have his moments of glory, but Tawanchai ensured his elbows, left fist, and thudding kicks did plenty of damage across the 15-minute battle.
After five rounds of nonstop action, Tawanchai’s striking masterclass earned him the coveted ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Title and capped off his brilliant year in style.
The 2022 Muay Thai Fighter of the Year award is a fitting recognition for Tawanchai, one of the most technically gifted strikers of this era who produced a truly epic year on the global stage.