Nat Jaroonsak – better knowns as Wondergirl in the Muay Thai world – has been diligently preparing for her ONE Championship return.
But first, the Thai star is helping Marrok Force training partner Marie “Snow Leopard” Ruumet prepare for the toughest fight of her young career on Friday, 22 April.
That evening, Rummet will face pound-for-pound striking great Anissa “C18” Meksen in an atomweight Muay Thai bout at ONE: Eersel vs. Sadikovic. It’s a chance for the 22-year-old phenom to propel herself to stardom by defeating a seven-time Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Champion.
The Estonian is coming off an impressive unanimous decision win over Little Tiger, while Meksen hasn’t competed outside of kickboxing in four years.
With that in mind, Wondergirl expects her teammate to utilize her core strengths and the unique aspects of her sport.
She told ONEFC.com:
“This fight is not kickboxing, so Ruumet’s game plan will be to elbow – elbow and fight very technically, with good timing.”
However, “C18” has been almost unbeatable throughout her storied career – racking up a 101-5 professional record – so Wondergirl doesn’t think the switch to Muay Thai will be an issue.
“It’s 50-50, you know? Meksen is an aggressive fighter, and her hands are pretty good. And this fight will be with small gloves, so I think they both have everything. It’s going to be a good fight to watch.”
Having said that, don’t expect Wondergirl to predict the outcome of this showdown – even if she’s supporting her stablemate.
The 23-year-old Bangkokian knows this matchup could tilt in either women’s favor, and she expects a fascinating clash of styles between “Snow Leopard” and the French-Algerian superstar.
“Marie Ruumet is a technical fighter with timing but doesn’t go forward. And Meksen is an aggressive fighter who does go forward. So in this match, you’re going to see two opposite fighters and techniques. But it’s hard to predict what will happen because in Muay Thai with small gloves, anything can happen.”
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The Thai used to train with Sundell at Fairtex, and she lost a unanimous decision to Buntan last year – a result that established the latter as a legitimate World Title contender.
Meanwhile, some critics feel that 17-year-old Sundell is too green to get this shot at gold. She’s only 1-0 in ONE, while her 24-year-old opponent is 3-0 in the organization.
But the Swede has more experience overall, holding a record of 32-5-1 to Buntan’s 23-5. And no matter how their World Title contest plays out, Wondergirl believes the experience will greatly benefit Sundell.
“It’s good for her to get this opportunity this early, because if she wins, good for her. If she loses, she lost nothing, because she’s still young.”
That doesn’t mean Wondergirl is counting out “The Hurricane.” In fact, she sees plenty of advantages that the younger charge will bring to the Circle.
One of them is an 11-centimeter height advantage, which Sundell will no doubt utilize in her quest to become ONE’s youngest-ever World Champion.
“[Smilla is] taller. She was taller than me [when we trained at Fairtex]. She was even taller than my sister (Supergirl). And her punches are pretty accurate. She has a long reach. Her knees can reach right up to her opponent’s face with no struggle.”
As for Buntan, Wondergirl has experienced her intensity firsthand and expects the Filipino-American fan favorite to turn it up on event night.
“Jackie is an aggressive fighter who has power. Every punch, everything she throws out, is all power. And with tall and skinny people (like Sundell), their thigh is not that strong.
“So if she can chop the tree she will win, for sure. But if Smilla can get her knee right to Jackie’s face first, anything can happen.”