ONE Atomweight Kickboxing World Champion Janet “JT” Todd will step back onto the global stage on 19 March at ONE: FISTS OF FURY III. That night, she’ll return to her roots in a Muay Thai matchup opposite Australian sensation Alma Juniku.
The Southern California native is excited to compete in “the art of eight limbs” once again, as the rules of the discipline give her more weapons to utilize in a battle against the division’s #4-ranked contender.
“Muay Thai is where I first started, so going back to it and being able to work in elbows and clinching again is something that I’m looking forward to,” Todd says.
“There are a lot more weapons you can work with and you have to deal with, so I like that aspect of it.”
“JT,” the #2-ranked atomweight Muay Thai contender, will carry a four-bout winning streak into the contest. She’s also been keeping a close eye on her Australian counterpart and believes this co-main event clash will provide fireworks.
“[Juniku] had a really exciting fight with Stamp [Fairtex]. I know she is the type of opponent that’s going to really push me to be better, so I was actually really excited to hear about it,” Todd says.
“I know Alma is a very tough girl. She’s fought some tough, tough women, so it’s going to be a really exciting back-and-forth match. But I plan to come out on top in the exchanges and get my hand raised at the end.”
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One interesting dynamic in this matchup is the wide age gap between the fighters. At 35, Todd is 15 years older than Juniku, but that doesn’t change her mindset.
Instead, she continues to put in hard work at Boxing Works and is confident that those sessions – and her experience advantage – will allow her to keep up with the youthful, aggressive Aussie.
“When I’m preparing for the fight, or even in the fight, I don’t think about how young [my opponents] are or whether I can match their energy,” Todd offers.
“I feel like my training gives me the ability to match or go above the energy level that I need to be able to win the fight.
“Age doesn’t really come into play because I trained my butt off, and I feel like I train smart. I have knowledgeable coaches that take into account my heart rate and my recovery to be able to maximize my energy levels so that I can dictate the intensity when I want to.”
Meanwhile, a distinct difference for Todd in this match will be competing in three rounds instead of the five required in a World Championship tilt. With only nine minutes to showcase her arsenal, fans should be on the edge of their seats from the opening bell.
“Obviously, the pace is different between three rounds and five rounds,” she says.
“With a five-round fight, you have to learn to manage your energy. I don’t want to say relax, but you need to know when to pull back and know when to hit the gas.
“In a three-round fight, I feel like the intensity is pretty high all-around. You only have three rounds to show what you’ve got and prove to the judges that you have that fight.”
As for the key to winning this contest, Todd says her feet will set her apart from Juniku.
“At times, she comes out aggressively. I’m going to use my footwork to give myself space,” the American says.
“Essentially, space is time, so it will give me a little bit of time to be able to see what she’s throwing and be able to respond back with my own [strikes].”
This bout is extremely important for both parties involved, especially because the winner could potentially secure a crack at ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Champion Allycia Hellen Rodrigues.
For her part, “JT” is extremely motivated to get a shot at the Brazilian’s gold.
The atomweight kickboxing queen had an opportunity to win the division’s inaugural Muay Thai belt back in February 2019, and after letting it slip away, she’s determined to earn a second chance and become just the second female two-sport ONE World Champion.
“My goal for the year is to be able to fight my way to the top of the Muay Thai rankings and be able to potentially fight for the title,” Todd says.
“That is still part of my dream – to be able to capture the ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Title as well.”