Buntan credits coach Popejoy for flawless gameplan

Published March 1, 2021, 7:29 PM

by Carlo Anolin

Photo from ONE Championship

Filipino-American muay thai fighter Jackie Buntan gave credit to coach Bryan Popejoy for creating a flawless gameplan en route to her successful ONE Championship debut.

Buntan said she had full confidence with the strategy built to counter Wondergirl Fairtex’s striking, thanks to the head trainer and owner of Los Angeles-based stable Boxing Works.

The 23-year-old Fil-Am fighter landed a solid left hook that sent the Thai prospect down the canvas with 22 seconds left in the first round and used the momentum to dominate the entire match for the unanimous decision win last Friday night, Feb. 26, in ONE: Fists of Fury at the Singapore Indoor Stadium

“Like I said, we expect for her to come straight in with shots so I was just kinda remembering that in my head. When she comes in I have that check hook waiting for her and it worked out,” said Buntan in a post-match interview.

“I knew it was really hard ‘cos I felt it on my fist but it wasn’t until I saw her go down that it just kinda get my adrenaline pumping. My coach is reminding me like, ‘If you hurt her, take a deep breath and then go in. You don’t wanna go in recklessly. You wanna be smart about it.'”

From the technical approach in the early parts of the fight, Buntan changed stance in the third round and went in aggressively by landing crisp punches and solid body shots to Wondergirl.

The knockdown effect from the first round was still evident on the 21-year-old Thai contender, either landing soft low kicks or missing slow high kicks enough for Buntan to create space for the counter.

“I think my speed and my timing and my feint definitely keep her troubled,” added Buntan, who improved to a 21-6 record. “The more hands I landed on her, I could physically see it was hurting her so I just knew I have to be throwing these hands throughout the whole fight and it worked out.”

Buntan may have executed the gameplan but were it not for Popejoy’s tactics, it could have been a different story.

The Fil-Am fighter, nonetheless, made sure to make a lasting first impression in one of the biggest martial arts promotions, putting into heart the last minute reminder of her mentor.

Read: ONE chief Sityodyong impressed with Fil-Am Buntan’s debut

“”You only have one time to make a first impression.’ So he just made it clear like, ‘You didn’t come all the way from LA to do nothing, so go out there and be everything that Jackie can be.’ And I think I did that,” recalled Buntan, who made herself known as one of the strong contenders vying for the inaugural ONE women’s strawweight muay thai world title anytime soon.