Filipina-American striking sensation Jackie Buntan emerged as a rising star following her impressive ONE Super Series debut against the highly regarded Wondergirl Fairtex in February. She returns this week against another tough opponent in Ekaterina “Barbie” Vandaryeva.
Buntan and Vandaryeva square off in a strawweight Muay Thai contest at “ONE on TNT IV,” which broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore this Wednesday, April 28 (Thursday, April 29 in Asia).
The 23-year-old from California is ecstatic she can return to action so quickly, and have an opportunity to fight on American prime-time television.
“Being in line for such a quick turnaround after my debut with ONE Championship on TNT is a surreal opportunity. I can’t thank ONE enough for the belief in me,” Buntan told ONE Championship in a recent interview.
“Winning my ONE debut absolutely added to my confidence as a fighter and as a person. I like to always be confident as an athlete and person, but that win against Wondergirl solidified the fact that I’m a serious contender in the strawweight division.”
Against Vandaryeva, Buntan faces a multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion and all-around dangerous test. “Barbie” also holds the distinction of having defeated feared striker Joanna Jędrzejczyk early in her career.
But one advantage Buntan has over Vandaryeva is that she has reigning ONE Atomweight Kickboxing World Champion Janet “JT” Todd helping her out in camp. Todd, who is Buntan’s chief training partner, defeated Vandaryeva in 2019 by second-round knockout.
“Janet has given me some little pieces of what she remembers from their fight. Janet is always a ton of help. She gave me little instances she remembered from their fight and what she did in those instances. Besides that, it’s just being able to do what I do,” said Buntan.
“I don’t watch too much of my opponents’ past fights. Maybe just a couple of rounds to get ideas. I’ve watched her and Janet’s fight, and I believe that was her most recent fight. I thought it was good.”
Buntan is heading into this fight with a lot of momentum. As such, she’s confident of victory and confident in her strategy. She fully expects to get her hands raised at the end of the night.
“I believe it will work to my advantage to get in and throw my strikes. She likes to kind of stay stagnant from what I last saw of her and in her fight with Janet [Todd]. I believe my footwork and speed will be the greater factor, so I don’t fall into the trap of rushing into her range,” said Buntan.
“There’s a game plan for this fight, just as any other fight. I’m looking to deliver my best self, as always. I’m going in there to be the calm and technical Jackie. I plan to use my best abilities, speed, footwork, and you’ll have to tune in to find out the rest.”
“ONE on TNT IV” is the fourth and final installment of the “ONE on TNT” event series for the month of April. In the main event of “ONE on TNT IV,” reigning ONE Light Heavyweight World Champion “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang will defend his title against reigning ONE Middleweight World Champion “The Dutch Knight” Reinier De Ridder.
Also on the card, Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez makes a quick turnaround and returns to the Circle.
Buntan believes she’s developing at a rapid pace, and that fans will get to witness her improvements since her last outing.
“I never like to underestimate my opponents. I know Ekaterina will come ready to give a fight, so I prepare just the same as I do for every fight. Ekaterina has a greater height and reach advantage over me. She has a good left kick as well,” said Buntan.
“After watching footage from my last fight, however, I believe I have improved in my footwork and movement, and how I cover distance. But you know how it goes, there’s always room for improvement.”