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Jo Nattawut Plans To Grow Muay Thai, Bring World Title Back To Atlanta With ONE 168 Win

“Smokin” Jo Nattawut
Black Belt Plus

“Smokin” Jo Nattawut went toe-to-toe with Tawanchai PK Saenchai in a memorable featherweight kickboxing encounter many believed he should have won. At ONE 167 on Friday, June 7, he can prove his supporters right when a rematch happens in four-ounce gloves.

After a victory over Luke Lessei, Nattawut earned a shot at Tawanchai and the ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Championship. The return match has all the makings of an instant classic.

Nattawut, who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, hopes this title tilt can help continue the sport’s upward trajectory in the United States.

“Everybody who is watching the [striking] fights in ONE, they love it. If it’s my fight, everybody enjoys it and likes my style, so that’s gonna help a lot [to grow the sport],” Nattawut told ONE.

“Muay Thai is growing here in Atlanta. It keeps growing every single month. Obviously, because of ONE Championship, it’s making it bigger. Everybody watches it, and then they train Muay Thai even more.”

“Thinking about Muay Thai, overall, in the next 10 years, it can be as big as [MMA] or even bigger because it’s so exciting and people love watching it. I think if ONE keeps going like this for the next five to ten years, we can reach the highest level.”

Nattawut is even contemplating opening a new gym in the Atlanta region. If so, he plans to teach traditional Muay Thai to his American students and help continue its beautiful tradition behind the borders of Thailand.

“Atlanta is home. I live here. I have all my friends, my work, everything is here. This is home for me, so it’s easier for me to open a gym here,” Nattawut explained.

“You have to build a good foundation, right? The whole system. If I own the gym, I already have an idea to create a full system. Everybody follows the system and the way we teach authentic Muay Thai.”

Nattawut is not looking past Tawanchai and his shot at gold. Still, he is looking to the future of ONE’s impact on the global Muay Thai community.

On November 8, ONE 170 takes place at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. “Smokin” Jo already sees how the upcoming event can continue to spark the flame for Muay Thai’s growth.

“It’s going to make a huge impact, people getting to see it live. Of course, if it gets more views, more people will know about Muay Thai. Of course, then Muay Thai will keep growing,” the featherweight contender said.

“The future, the dream for everyone, is for it to be as big as boxing, as big as [MMA]. If we keep going like this, it’s going to get there.”

With the upcoming event in his backyard, Nattawut is putting even more emphasis on capturing gold at ONE 167.

A victory would open the door of opportunity for him to compete at home, in front of his friends, while wearing the ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Championship.

“It would be fun to compete at the Atlanta event. It’s really for my friends here, too. They would get to watch me live at least one time. I’ve lived here for 10 years but never had a chance to fight at home,” Nattawut said.

ONE 167 airs live on Friday, June 7, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Prime Video. The event is free for all Amazon Prime members based in the U.S. and Canada.

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