At ONE Championship 159 in Jul. 2022, Janet “JT” Todd entered the ONE Circle on a six-fight winning streak. Her only loss under the ONE banner was her promotional debut in Fed. 2019, when she dropped a decision to Stamp Fairtex for the inagural ONE atomweight Muay Thai title. In the time since then, she ran through some top competition, which included winning the ONE atomweight kickboxing title from Stamp, followed by back-to-back Muay Thai victories.
Six months after losing her kickboxing title to Todd, Stamp lost her Muay Thai belt to Allycia Hellen Rodrigues, who has not fought since. The Brazilian took some time off to have a baby, and in the meantime, Todd was making a run at a second strap.
At ONE Championship 159, Todd faced Spain’s Lara Fernandez for ONE’s interim atomweight Muay Thai title, and the fight went the distance. As it was annaounced the judges had chosen a unanimous victor, fans were on the edge of the seat. In the end, Todd had picked up the interim title, and nobody appeared to be more surpired than her.
“When you have a fight go all five rounds, and it’s left to the judges hands, you never know how it’s going to go,” Todd told Combat Press. “So I think there’s just like a little bit of nervousness as you’re waiting to hear when they call out the winner. And when you do, it’s just like a level of excitement that comes out as a surprise.”
Todd had finally become a two-sport champ, which is something she had pined for throughout her career. She knew this was going to put her on a collision course with Rodrigues for the title-unification bout, so she got right back to work.
“I’ve been doing nothing but getting better,” Todd said. “My coaches and where I train have all remained the same. And, sort of, the structure of our training has remained the same. Just developing different techniques and timings is the only thing that’s really changed. As you get closer to the fight, the intensity of your training also changes, so that you can peak at the right moment.”
Todd and Rodrigues were initially set to meet at ONE Fight Night 5 in Dec. 2022. Todd had made the trip to Singapore, and the two were ready to fight at the end of the week, when the COVID bug struck once again. Needless to say, Todd wasn’t feeling well.
“We were staying at a casino, so I thought I had allergies,” said JT. “I was congested, and I’m not usually around smoke, so I totally thought it was allergies. I was taking allergy medicine and starting to get better with the congestion, so I didn’t think it was COVID. I was absolutely shocked when I heard and probably cried more than I’d like to admit, because I flew out there for 15-and-a-half hours to have this fight. Things happen for a reason, and I’m grateful that we got to reschedule it.”
The bout was eventually set to take place on Friday, Mar. 24, as the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 8. So, this evening, Todd and Rodrigues will finally meet to unify the ONE atomweight Muay Thai championship.
“It’s a long time coming,” Todd said. “I’ve been waiting since 2020, so I was super excited when we were supposed to fight in December, and then it was just the whole unfortunate COVID incident. I just had to be a little bit more patient and wait a couple more months. Now it’s my time. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Todd is a very tough kickboxer, whether Dutch-style or Muay Thai, and being an aerospace engineer, she is very good at calculating her opponents, as well as the risks they bring to the table. Having studied Rodrigues for years, she is very confident in what her opponent will bring to the table.
“She has great left kicks – good timing on those – and we saw that with the Stamp fight,” said Todd. “We’ve seen that with other fights – that she’s a strong puncher and works her elbows in that close range. She’s very good at those close-range type of tactics.
“I think one of my strengths is my movement – being able to get myself into position that’s optimal for striking at a longer distance. I also feel like I’m versatile, and, whether I can fight coming forward or fight as a counter fighter. It depends on where the energy of the fight goes. I can take it to whichever direction I please. She’s been fighting and training for a long time, so I feel like there’s certain tendencies that don’t go, whether she took two years off or not.”
Tonight, Todd will be a dream chaser, and Rodrigues will be dusting off what could be a bit of rust. Rodrigues is still only 24 years old, while Todd is 37, so she will have youth on her side. But, the experience Todd will bring to the table, and the longtime quest to be the undisputed Muay Thai champ, cannot be discounted. This fight is set to be the proverbial “banger.”
“This atomweight Muay Thai title is something that I’ve wanted since the first time I fought at ONE, when I lost the belt to Stamp – you know, my very first fight in ONE Championship,” Todd explained. “Obviously, I lost that one, so I’ve been clamoring for it ever since. It’s going to be a dream come true, once I get to put that big old belt across my shoulder and finally claim that and the Muay Thai world championship.
“I always want to make it an exciting fight, and also a technical fight. I want people to be inspired to get after what they want, or get after competition, after seeing my performance. I’ve always been training hard, and that hasn’t changed, but I feel like I have a couple new tricks up my sleeve that I hope I get to show off.”
ONE Fight Night 8 kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime Video, and the atomweight Muay Thai bout will serve as the co-main event on the seven-fight main card.