Fil-Am fighter Jackie Buntan draws strength from Filipinos’ all-out support
Filipinos have been establishing their footing in the international sports scene this year.
From Alex Eala’s bronze finish at the recent Asian Games to Bianca Bustamante becoming the first Filipina racer in McLaren’s driver development program, and Andrei Iosivas making his debut in the National Football League, there’s certainly no shortage of Filipino talents in the global stage.
Adding to the roster is rising ONE Championship Filipino-American star Jackie Buntan who has discovered a solid source of support: the passionate Filipino fans who embraced her like family.
For the former ONE strawweight muay thai world title contender, the concept of national pride in the Philippines has been taken to a whole new level, and every time she steps into the ring, she’s well aware that her fight extends beyond personal aspirations—it’s a battle for something greater than herself.
In an interview with Fil-Am journalist Alex Wendling on Sportskeeda, Jackie marvels at the passion of Filipinos, emphasizing that their support transcends professions—be it cooking, science, or combat sports.
“I always tell that to people, like Filipinos are so passionate,” she expresses. “I think that’s the reason why they’re such die-hard fans of anything, you know. You could be Filipino doing whatever, like you said cook, scientist, combat fighter, whatever, doesn’t matter.”
Hailing from Palos Verdes Estates in California, the 26-year-old fighter made two significant trips to the Philippines in October 2022, immersing herself in the culture and connecting with her roots for the first time.
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Despite being in a foreign land, Buntan quickly realized that Filipino hospitality was not just a myth but a tangible force that made her feel at home.
“If you’re Filipino and you’re representing us, they’re with you. They’re your biggest cheerleaders, and I absolutely love that,” she said, mirroring the tremendous support she received during a crucial muay thai bout against Diandra Martin on the main card of ONE Fight Night 10 in the US last April.
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What’s next for Jackie Buntan?
Following her knockout victory against Martin at ONE Fight Night 10 and after withdrawing from her supposed Sept. 30 fight against world strawweight titleholder Smilla Sundell due to a family matter, the Fil-Am athlete still seeks a shot at gold.
“I think I’ve put in a lot of work to get to where I am right now, and to be worthy of that title shot, so I’m not worried that that opportunity slipped through my fingers, I know it’s going to be there for me,” she stated.
Since February 2021 with victories in five out of six fights, she has become a force to be reckoned with in combat sports, and she’s currently eyeing on becoming a world champion in both muay thai and kickboxing.
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“When I’m ready to come back, whether I get another three-round fight or I dabble a bit in kickboxing, it doesn’t matter if I’m active, I’m happy.”
Yet, beyond the wins and losses, what sets her apart is the deep connection she has forged with the Filipino community, ready to cheer for her in every fight, both inside and outside the ring.