Two-time Thailand national muay Thai champion Nat "Wondergirl" Jaroonsak has made a bold prediction for her upcoming MMA debut at ONE Championship's next live event on Friday, May 20.
"I'll win this fight by rear-naked choke in the second or third round," she said.
No one would doubt those words if they came from the mouth of a seasoned mixed martial artist. But instead, they came from "Wondergirl," who fans have only seen compete in muay Thai.
The 23-year-old Bangkok native has finally decided to step away from Muay Thai to focus strictly on her MMA pursuits.
Bano, known by her nickname "Fighting Queen," is a veteran of the all-encompassing sport. She owns a perfect 6-0 record with four of those victories coming via first-round knockout and another via submission in the second frame.
Though her opponent has much more MMA experience, "Wondergirl" doesn't feel intimidated at all.
"I've never seen her fight before," Jaroonsak said. "I just researched her fights and her performances, and I think she's a striker. Even though she's training wrestling and BJJ to beat me, I'm not scared. I've been training (in MMA) for, like, two years already. I'm not just muay Thai or striking."
But indeed that is what she's known for.
The woman who was named after a K-Pop band by her father boogied onto the global stage with a dominant debut two years ago, where she beat Brooke Farrell via first-round KO. She followed that victory up with a second-round knockout of KC "Pinay Fight" Carlos.
However, "Wondergirl" soon tasted defeat when she faced recent ONE world title challenger Jackie Buntan. The Filipino-American stunned fans when she dropped the Thai with a left hook. Jaroonsak survived the bout, but the damage she sustained sidelined her for over a year.
"Wondergirl" is healed up now and hunting for a win in her MMA debut, but she isn't discrediting her upcoming Indian opponent.
"I am a muay Thai professional fighter, and, of course, my striking (includes) everything in muay Thai – elbows, knees, clinch, head kicks, low kicks, even teeps," she said. "If I'm her coach, I would find a way to take me down. But who knows? Maybe she's going to strike with me in all the rounds."
Striking with "Wondergirl" could work against Bano, though, because the older Jaroonsak sibling will step into the ONE circle with an 8-centimeter height advantage and nearly 15 years of muay Thai experience.
That said, don't expect her to shy away from tangling in a grappling battle when the ONE circle door closes. After all, she does have a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
"I have confidence in my striking, so she's going to be aware of my strikes, for sure," Jaroonsak said. "But as I said, I've been training in MMA for two years, and I don't have just striking. I know how to submit."
'Wondergirl' wants 'slow but strong' rise to the top
Jaroonsak has been waiting to make her MMA debut in ONE Championship for quite some time. In fact, she originally wanted to compete under the all-encompassing rule set when she first joined the organization in August 2020.
However, an opportunity to fight in muay Thai came first, so without question, she jumped at the chance to showcase her striking expertise on the global stage.
"I was about to retire in muay Thai years ago, but then ONE gave me a muay Thai contract, which was a good opportunity for me," Jaroonsak said. "ONE is the biggest promotion in Asia and in the world, but I really wanted to fight MMA. Now that I finally got an MMA contract, I'm so happy. Finally, my dream's coming true."
Some may wonder what motivated the longtime muay Thai practitioner to want to switch sports, especially after having such a successful career in her motherland.
For Jaroonsak, it was all about pushing her martial arts skill set to the next level.
"I'm a striker, and MMA is kind of a new sport in Thailand," she said. "Muay Thai fighters, most of them, are scared to try it out. They're scared to do grappling, BJJ, and wrestling because it's kind of new for us, and it's been challenging for me to spend my training in grappling and wrestling classes – not just muay Thai two times a day."
"Wondergirl" is training hard at Marrok Force to have a successful MMA debut, and even if she is victorious, she isn't in a hurry to reach the top of the women's strawweight division.
The Thai wants to build upon her foundation, and she wants to prove win-by-win that she's a growing force in the weight class – kind of like her compatriot and former teammate did before taking the atomweight division by storm.
"I want to go slow but strong, just like Stamp (Fairtex)," Jaroonsak said. "She didn't face the top fighter in her very first fight in MMA.
"I'm not rushing. I just turned 23 and still have a lot of time to work on and improve my skills. But if ONE wants to give me a strong opponent, then that's fine. I respect ONE's opinions and matchmaking. I'll fight anyone they want to give me."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.