“Smokin” Jo Nattawut has returned home to Thailand as he gears up for his return to ONE Championship.
The American-based Thai will lock horns with Frenchman Yohann Fairtex Drai at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday, 13 July.
Nattawut travelled to his native Thailand from Georgia, USA, three weeks before the bout. He made the trip so far in advance of his match to acclimatise to South East Asia and get a solid end to his training camp in the birthplace of Muay Thai.
It is something that he is planning to do for the rest of his time in ONE Super Series.
“For every single fight – two or three weeks before the fight – I am going to go out to Thailand,” explains Nattawut, who will train in his native Bangkok.
“The training here is good. The training back in Georgia is good too, but I need to be out here because of the time difference, more than anything else.”
Without the worry of jet lag or exhaustion, the two-division Lion Fight World Champion expects to be in peak condition when he enters the arena.
That is what he needs to make a big impression in Malaysia against a formidable opponent.
In Drai, who competes out of Pattaya’s Fairtex Gym, he meets a man whose path has gone in the opposite direction. As Nattawut moved away from Thailand, the man from Marseilles, France, travelled to “The Land Of Smiles” aged 22 to make a step up in his Muay Thai education.
Working alongside the likes of Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex and Saemapetch Fairtex – who have already impressed in ONE Super Series – the European will be well trained, but “Smokin” Jo still believes he has the edge.
“He is a good fighter,” Nattawut says. “He trains in Muay Thai, so he has good kicks and good clinching, but I do not think my kicks and my clinching are below anyone’s.”
The Thai is renowned for his powerful leg strikes and dumps, but he believes he will also have the edge with his boxing skills.
“He might be bigger and stronger, but I feel like every time I hit, I can hit so hard. My kicks will slow him down, and I think I have a chance to stop him,” he adds.
There’s a lot at stake here for Nattawut, who is making his return to action under ONE Super Series Muay Thai rules, which he prefers to kickboxing regulations.
Competing in this style, he says he is aiming for the gold in ONE Championship.
Succeeding in stopping Drai will go a long way toward propelling him towards that goal.