ONE 161 preview and predictions: Petchmorakot vs. Tawanchai

Petchmorakot Petchyindee (left) and Tawanchai PK.Saenchai (right) will close out ONE 161 in an epic world title match. [Photos ONE Championship]
Petchmorakot Petchyindee (left) and Tawanchai PK.Saenchai (right) will close out ONE 161 in an epic world title match. [Photos ONE Championship]

A legacy will surely be made in the main event of ONE 161: Petchmorakot vs. Tawanchai. The question is, whose story will be defined?

World champions have always been put in a compromising situation and Petchmorakot Petchyindee wants to prove that his reign atop the division stands as long as possible when he defends the ONE featherweight Muay Thai world title against Tawanchai PK.Saenchai.

The two superstar strikers will stake their claim for gold in the main event of their namesake event ONE 161: Petchmorakot vs. Tawanchai this Thursday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

While Petchmorakot has reigned supreme since February 2020, Tawanchai has been on a warpath, knocking out almost everyone thrown his way since arriving at ONE Championship in 2021.

ONE 161 also presents a clash of contrasting styles between the two Muay Thai artists. Petchmorakot, who owns four finishes to his name in ONE Championship, is one of the most methodical fighters in the sport and takes his time softening up his opponents.

Tawanchai, meanwhile, is an unrelenting force capable of knocking anyone out without any warning whatsoever. His three wins in ONE Championship have all been finishes and it doesn’t look like he’s changing his approach to his matches any sooner.

With such an intriguing world title match, we here at Sportskeeda MMA have tried to predict what ONE 161 has to offer.


Atilano Diaz: Tawanchai via KO

Tawanchai is an absolute phenom, but I believe he can also match Petchmorakot even technique-wise. Simply put, he's a generational talent on the cusp of greatness. That being said, this is Tawanchai's truest test. If he passes, it could be the beginning of a tremendous run that could see the young gun transform into a global superstar.

If he fails, it will derail his goals momentarily. I expect Tawanchai to win by KO in the second round.


Ben Imperial: Tawanchai via KO

I think Petchmorakot's last two fights could have gone either way, and I believe Tawanchai will not let the world title slip from his grasp in the same way at ONE 161. His back-to-back wins, in contrast to Petchmorakot's, are a masterclass for destroying an opponent in Muay Thai.

Physically, they're practically identical, which cancels out any advantage on both ends. While it's not easy to discount the heart of the champion, I feel like Tawanchai will be able to perform at a level higher when they meet in the circle.

We haven’t seen Tawanchai go the distance that much in ONE Championship and I think this one will be the same. If they do, I think he will be able to take advantage of Petchmorakot’s fatigue and turn the match in his favor in the championship rounds. I’m looking at a Tawanchai TKO via body shot in the third round.


Duane Lucas Pascua: Tawanchai via KO

Tawanchai will come out aggressive yet still methodical and calculating. He’ll back Petchmorakot up and might drop him a few times early. Eventually, the methodical pressure will wilt the will of the champion and make him vulnerable to Tawanchai’s fight-ending kill shot.


James De Rozario: Petchmorakot via KO

Tawanchai and Petchmorakot are equally balanced in the offensive department when you take a peak into their arsenal. But what separates these two striking phenoms is their ability when working on the back foot. A trait that slides in favor of the featherweight Muay Thai kingpin.

Petchmorakot can stay patient like a predator from the outside, and attack when Tawanchai tries to back him up with heavy kicks and punches. These might be the main plot when they bang it out this Thursday, but I see the defending world champion catching his countryman during one of those exchanges to claim another big scalp in the division at the end of ONE 161.


Vince Richards: Tawanchai via KO

Petchmorakot's reign might just be coming to an end. Tawanchai has been on a headhunting spree in all of his wins in ONE Championship, and he believes that his run of form will next include a KO win over his fellow Thai superstar.

Their world title fight at ONE 161 will be an interesting clash of styles between Petchmorakot’s methodical pace and Tawanchai’s diabolical approach. Petchmorakot is still very capable of knocking opponents out but how Tawanchai stops his matches are scary.

Tawanchai isn’t one to slowly cut his opponents down to size and would rather launch a world-ender of a strike without any kind of set-up whatsoever.

If Petchmorakot can bring this fight to his speed then he could leave Singapore with gold still draped on his shoulder, but that is a hypothesis that can be disproved by the sheer force that Tawanchai brings. I see Tawanchai getting this in the third round of the ONE 161 headliner.

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Edited by Harvey Leonard
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