February 1, 2023
FUTURE CHAMP — Filipino-American fighter Jackie Buntan is a fan-favorite coming into the inaugural ONE Muay Thai strawweight world championship bout against Smilla Sundell of Sweden in the co-main event of ONE: Reload at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on April 22. Buntan’s family is from Manila but has migrated in San Diego, California. — ONE photo

Filipino-American star Jackie Buntan will face Swedish teenage sensation Smilla Sundell for the inaugural ONE women’s strawweight Muay Thai world belt in the co-main event of ONE: Reloaded in Singapore on April 22.
The 23-year-old Buntan of San Diego, California said she is confident entering the circle during the bout, as her opponent has not fought anyone with her style, power, and speed.
The 17-year-old Sundell is desperate to win the belt and become the youngest ONE world champion in history, as the Swedish is banking on her 35-5-1 record as her greatest asset coming into the fight.
The fearless teenager was equally impressive in her promotional debut at ONE; Full Circle in February where she ripped through Australia’s Diandra Martin to earn a third-round technical knockout.
Sundell knew Buntan is seven years older and has more experience competing under the bright lights of ONE Championship with the four-ounce mixed martial arts gloves. But that doesn’t faze the confident teen, who has a warning for her upcoming adversary.
“I hate losing. I will become aggressive, I will finish her, and I will become a world champion,” Sundell said.
Buntan, meanwhile, said a lot of people shared words of encouragement that she will be victorious in her world title bout against Sundell.
“It was a flood of emotions when I got the call about the world title fight. Not just the goal of actually being able to have the opportunity to compete for it. But it just puts everything in perspective,” she said.
Buntan felt her world title shot is warranted after high-profile wins over three previous opponents. – Harley F. Palangchao