Jackie Buntan is back in action this week, and excited to continue representing both the United States and the Philippines, where her family was originally from.
Buntan will make her second appearance in the Circle this year when she faces Ekaterina “Barbie” Vandaryeva in a Muay Thai contest at ONE on TNT IV — which broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore on Thursday.
Buntan is especially grateful for all the support she has received in the Philippines, despite having yet to visit the country of her heritage.
“Being a Filipina-American born and raised in the U.S., and having never even visited the country yet, it’s insane to have this much coverage coming from the Philippines. My whole family is originally from the Philippines. I was the only one to be born in the U.S. I’m very proud of my heritage. I’m thankful for all the support. It shows me that people believe in me and that athlete that I am,” said Buntan.
“Both my mom and my dad are really proud to hear that their family and friends from back home know about me and have watched my fight.”
Buntan’s whole family migrated to the United States before she was born. But despite being born an American, the 23-year-old says she was raised with Filipino values, in a predominantly Filipino household.
After her ONE Super Series debut back in February, in an impressive victory over the highly regarded Wondergirl Fairtex, Buntan returned home to California, where her parents proudly welcomed their daughter.
“When I got home from Singapore, my parents expressed how proud and excited they were for me. I think they were more excited than I was at the time. They said I looked like a completely different fighter and athlete in that fight. The last time they saw me compete was in 2019, as an amateur, so I definitely had a huge amount of time for growth as an athlete from then to now,” said Buntan.
“My family said it was something special for them to witness my professional debut on such a grand stage like ONE Championship. They’ve witnessed me train since I was an 11-year-old girl with dreams to make this a career. Lots of doubt came on my end when I was younger and having a debut like that really solidified the fact that I can take this chapter in my life seriously. My parents are nothing but proud.”
Now, with the chance to make her family and country proud once again, Buntan is looking for another spectacular performance.
“I’d like to thank all my fans and supporters in the Philippines for believing in me,” said Buntan.
“Knowing I have an entire nation behind me only motivates me to push myself hard to achieve my goals and dreams. This is just the beginning, and the journey ahead is long. I am grateful for the support everyone has shown, and I’m glad I can bring you all along for the ride.”