WHILE “Smokin'” Jo Nattawut is one step closer to the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix final and a taste of the tournament’s USD$1 million (RM4.19 million) prize, he warned that there could yet be another twist in the competition.
All four quarterfinal bouts at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON on Friday, 17 May provided fans with a perfect striking exhibition.
There were several thrilling upsets at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on that night, and the Thai warrior believes the race to the tournament championship is as wide open as ever.
“Every fighter possesses their own danger. I don’t think there is any particular fighter who is more dangerous. It is a clash of styles,” the ONE Championship star explained.
“If you look back, I’ve beaten Samy before, and then Samy beat Yodsanklai. It is anyone’s tournament. We’ve got the same opportunity to win, so I’ve got to make sure that I bring more than 100 percent to each fight.
“I feel my weapons are stronger than some of the other competitors and that I have really good cardio.”
Several athletes have tasted Nattawut’s power.
At ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER in Kuala Lumpur last year, he blitzed his way to a last-second first-round knockout against Yohann Fairtex Drai.
The latest martial artist to be on the receiving end of his prowess is WMC Muay Thai World Champion Sasha Moisa. Nattawut’s heavy strikes and precision brought the Ukrainian to the canvas twice in the final round in Singapore.
“He was taller than me and came out hard. I felt the first round was really close because I hadn’t yet found my rhythm,” the Thai said.
“Going into the second round, I figured him out and started to pick my shots. By the third round, I knew if I pushed him, I would most likely be able to finish the fight. I wasn’t sure exactly how, though, so I just waited for the right opportunity.”
With the World Grand Prix stakes set extremely high, the 29-year-old said he rather not think about the huge cash prize that awaits the winner.
Instead, he is just focused on the next step, which for him is the tournament's semifinal round.
“I’m not yet thinking of the final or the prize money – it’s a step-by-step process. Instead, I’m focusing on each fight, one by one,” he continued. “No matter what happens, I am already really proud of myself for getting this far.”