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Who is Tawanchai? – The New Breed of Muay Thai

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Tawanchai’s brief time within ONE Championship has been electric, to say the least. The 23-year-old Muay Thai phenom has racked up an impressive record of 126-31-2 in his short life, with many more scalps to take in the future. Without further ado, who is Tawanchai?

The Pattaya Prodigy

Hailing from Pattaya, Thailand situated on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, Tawanchai lived a life similar to most young Thais. Like most Muay Thai fighters he began his journey into the country’s national sport at the tender age of 8, when the young Thai made his debut. After some success on the regional scene, Tawanchai moved to Bangkok; making his Lumpinee Stadium debut at age 14.

In search of an elite gym to help hone his promising, albeit raw skills, Tawanchai found his home in Southern Bangkok, at the famed P.K.SaenchaiGym, the gym he still trains at today (owned by the legendary Saenchai). His performances skyrocketed from this point on within this iron-on-iron gym, in which he has shared with top Thai talents like Rodlek, Pongsiri, Muangthai, Prajanchai, Pakorn, Chanajon, and Wanchalong. 

In his earlier career, the Thai prodigy had his fair share of ups and downs. However, it was in 2017 that the Pattaya-born striker found his stride.

Generational Dominance

In 2017 Tawanchai avenged a loss to the former Lumpinee 108lbs champion Mongkolchai, a win that stretched on for an impressive 11-fight win streak. The names on the streak were nothing short of greatness, taking out Mongkolchai again, Ferrari Jakrayanmuaythai, the Muay Khao monster Nuenglanlek Jitmuangnon, the brilliant Sangmanee Sor Tienpo (Tawanchai was the first person to ever KO Sangmanee in their trilogy) and the Muay Mat sharpshooter Kulabdam Sor.Jor.Piek-U-ThaiThis win streak earned him 3 prestigious fighter of the year awards in 2018, mostly due to the Kulabdam trilogy, in which Tawanchai went undefeated.

After losing the final bout of the Sangmanee trilogy, of which he won 2-1, Tawanchai went 6-1 in his next seven fights. He pushed the boundaries of his career during this time, as he not only fought under kickboxing rules for the first time, but had his first bout outside of Thailand, which he won by decision in China for the Wu Lin Feng World Cup.

It was not long before Asia’s biggest martial arts promotion got in touch with Tawanchai.

ONE Championship

In 2021 Tawanchai made his much-awaited debut within the promotion, as the newest addition to ONE’s stacked Muay Thai roster. His debut against Irishman Sean Clancy was an effortless beat down of a tough, game fighter. A performance that was punctuated by a ruthless head kick KO. The startling ease with which Tawanchai dispatched his Irish opponent set the combat sports world ablaze, with the fans eager to see what was next for this phenom.

Tawanchai next faced Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong in a close, back-and-forth technical battle. Unfortunately for Tawanchai, the former Lumpinee Stadium and Glory welterweight & lightweight champion won via split decision.

Tawanchai would put himself back in the winners circle shortly after, with a first-round KO win over ONE Muay Thai veteran Saemapetch Fairtex, who had recently finished Tawanchai’s long term rival, Kulabdam. The Muay Femur master has looked technically perfect in all his ONE appearances, with only top tier talent like Sitthichai giving the Pattaya native any problems.

ONE 158: Tawanchai vs Larsen

As stated before Tawanchai has looked incredible since his ONE debut, a trend many are sure won’t be broken by underdog Niclas Larsen. The Danish national is no slouch in the striking department, having been a WBC Muay Thai champion and ex-Glory fighter.

Tawanchai was well on his way to contend for the bantamweight title against Nong-O after his KO victory over Saemapetch. However, Tawanchai has chosen to fight in the promotions featherweight division at ONE: 158, due to difficulty making the cut to bantamweight (especially with ONE’s pre-fight hydration tests). Having stated:

“I had hard time losing weight to stay in bantamweight. I think I’ll be more natural in featherweight. I had to control my weight. I had to eat less in order not to gain weight. So, my energy drops, and I can’t perform weight training to improve natural muscle mass effectively. I think I’ll be more agile and my weapons will be even heavier.”

Strength & conditioning, along with nutrition has been a fairly recent focus amongst Muay Thai fighters, especially in Thailand. This new way of training is gradually working side-by-side with traditional Muay Thai fitness regimes to give fighters the competitive edge in the age of the super athlete. Tawanchai has dived right into the world of strength and conditioning with the help of fellow ONE athlete Petchtanong Petchfurgus. Tawanchai must sense the performance benefits of fighting at a more suitable weight class.

Tawanchai wishes to face Petchmorakot Petchyindee and Superbon Singha Mawynn for the featherweight Muay Thai & kickboxing titles in the near future, stating in an interview with ONE:

“In Muay Thai, I want to face Petchmorakot. That’s my goal. And after winning the belt in Muay Thai, I want to fight for the [Featherweight] kickboxing belt.”

Therefore, with possible title implications, we can expect a very focused Tawanchai at ONE:158. Which is a scary thought to say the least.

Who is Tawanchai?

For many, Tawanchai is the future of Muay Thai, in a time when Muay Thai is gaining more worldwide acknowledgment than ever before. This once incredibly niche combat sport has been given the spotlight thanks to ONE Championship’s chairman and founder Chatri Sityodtong. Who has rebranded his nation’s sport as an accessible, exciting spectacle, at the cost of some traditions (which can still be widely found in other organizations and throughout all stadiums in Thailand).

Therefore, front runners such as Rodtang and Tawanchai are needed for this campaign to show the world the very best of Muay Thai.

UPDATE: Tawanchai PK.Saenchai def. Niclas Larsen via Knockout (Punch) in Round 2 at 1:42 in the main event of ONE 158

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Life long martial artist and fan of combat sports, currently competing as an amateur Muay Thai fighter. Besides fighting, I love travelling the world and writing.

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