Tawanchai PK.Saenchai (R) (ONE Championship)

ONE Fight Night 7’s Tawanchai PK.Saenchai: Fighting For His Family

In Thailand, cock fighting is a national tradition, and there is a lot of money to be had in the sport. And, the birds aren’t cheap. The top fighting cocks can cost into the high tens of thousands of dollars, and in one of the largest stadiums, there was once a bet for over five-hundred-thousand U.S. dollars for one fight. However, Muay Thai is another national sport in Thailand, but it takes place in much larger stadiums.

23-year-old Tawanchai PK.Saenchai, the current ONE Championship featherweight Muay Thai champion, was born and raised in Pattaya, Thailand. Pattaya is about 100 minutes south of Bangkok, which is home to two of the largest and most famous Muay Thai venues, Lumpinee Boxing Stadium and Rajadamnern Stadium. He was exposed to the fight life at a young age.

“I have been fighting Muay Thai since I was seven years old,” Tawanchai told Combat Press. “My dad drove by the stadium every day, and he loves watching Muay Thai. My love of this sport grew from him. I first trained at Petchrungreung in Pattaya, and have never stopped since that day.”


Tawanchai has two siblings – a brother who owns a fighting cocks farm and a sister who works in Pattaya. When he was younger, though, his family went bankrupt, which sent him down the path of Muay Thai.

“Being on this journey, I can support myself, and help my dad out,” Tawanchai said. “I want my dad to live comfortably.”

While Muay Thai is his primary focus and career, Tawanchai has simple pleasures outside of training and fighting.

“I like playing guitar with my family, and taking care of the fighting cocks,” said the ONE champion. “That’s where my happiness lies.”

Due to the fact that Thai fighters start at such a young age, and the fact that they fight so often, it can be difficult to nail down an official record. Some sources have Tawanchai’s record at 128-31-2 with almost 10 knockouts, but he said he has almost 200 fights. Even at 23 years old, this not unheard of in the Thai fighting world.

The lion’s share of Tawanchai’s fights have taken place at Lumpinee Stadium, dating back at least eight years. It does not take a mathematician to figure out that puts him in his mid teens when he was already fighting professionally. After a long career at Lumpinee, he had picked up multiple wins over some of the top guys in the world, including Kulabdam Sor.Jor.Piek-U-Thai and Sangmanee Sor Tienpo. This led him to a contract with ONE in 2021, and he has since picked up four wins and one loss to Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong. His last win was for the featherweight title over Petchmorakot Petchyindee last September.

“I’m very happy that I won,” said Tawanchai. “It was one of the fights that I trained really hard for, and, of course, one of my proudest moments.”

Petchmorakot won the ONE featherweight Muay Thai title in Feb. 2020, and he had defended the belt four times, before facing Tawanchai. It was a huge win for the younger fighter, but he has not fought since. However, that will change on Friday night, when he faces Russia’s Jamal Yusupov in the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 7.

Yusupov entered ONE Championship in Nov. 2019, but he has only fought three times, due to two cancellations of bouts with Petchmorakot, and one cancellation against Marat Grigorian. However, his promotional debut ended in a knockout win of Yodsanklai Photirat, and he followed that up with back-to-back unanimous decision victories over Samy Sana and “Smokin'” Jo Nattawut. The Nattawut win led to the Grigorian match-up last September, but that one got scrapped after Yusupov failed medical clearance. ONe finally had him facing Tawanchai for the belt tomorrow night.

“I only know that he’s a great fighter,” Tawanchai said. “His punches are strong, and he has faced several Thai fighters. He’s not an ordinary fighter, not to be underestimated.

“I have trained and prepared all of the game plan to face him. It’s not a match to be missed. It’s the heavy puncher versus the technical fighter. We’ll see who’s going to be the winner.”

Tawanchai is still young and has no plans to give up his belt in the first title defense. He has momentum on his side and the ONE Fight Night 7 should be a fantastic bout. After this, the Thai champion wants to keep expanding his career.

“I want to try kickboxing,” said Tawanchai. “I’ll just keep gaining experience to reach the level I want to be.”

The ONE Fight Night 7 bonus bouts air live on ONE Championship’s website starting at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Feb. 24, followed by the main card on Amazon Prime Video starting at 8 p.m. ET.