Janet Todd has already accomplished something pretty spectacular, owning world titles in two sports. At ONE Fight Night 8, she plans to make that accomplishment a little more official.
“It’s a belt, but it’s still like that sort of intermediate step,” Todd tells MMA Underground. “It’s the interim belt. It’s not the full thing yet, so yeah, this fight means a lot more to me than the last fight because this is fighting the champ for that belt, and that'’ what I want to do.”
Currently ONE's reigning interim Muay Thai titleholder, Todd faces undisputed champ Allycia Hellen Rodrigues in the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 8, which streams live on Friday (8 p.m. ET) in North American prime time on Amazon Prime Video from Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Todd, a California native, began competing in Muay Thai in 2009 and would elevate herself to the highest levels of the sport, claiming the International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA) Pan American title in 2017, as well as a bronze medal in the IFMA World Championships that same year. She signed with ONE Championship in 2019 and was immediately granted a shot at the promotion's atomweight Muay Thai title against Thailand's Stamp Fairtex.
Todd came up short in her promotional debut, losing via decision.
Since then, Todd has been on fire, racking up seven straight victories, including a 2020 clash with Fairtex. “JT” was able to secure a split-decision victory that night, claiming the ONE atomweight kickboxing belt in the process. This past July, she scored a decision win over Spain's Lara Fernandez to claim an interim atomweight Muay Thai title.
This weekend, Todd gets a second crack at the undisputed Muay Thai belt, and it's something she’s envisioned since her first appearance for ONE Championship.
“I lost my chance of getting that belt back in 2019 when I fought Stamp, and man, I clawed my way back up to this opportunity, and finally I get to have it, what, four years later?” Todd says. “It’s time.”
While kickboxing and Muay Thai are both pure striking arts, the latter allows the use of elbows and knees along with punches and kicks, leading to an entirely different set of skills and strategy necessary for success. Despite the difficulty in being the world’s best at two different disciplines, the 37-year-old Todd envisions doing exactly that with a title win.
“I think there’s challenges to it, but I think I'm capable of doing both—and, you know, I would like to,” Todd says.
Brazil’s Rodrigues stands in her way for now. Just 24, Rodrigues began competing professionally as a teenager and signed with ONE Championship in 2020, claiming the atomweight Muay Thai belt in her promotional debut. She then took time off to give birth to her first child and is now competing for the first time in more than two and a half years.
Despite the layoff, Todd says she’s preparing to face the absolute best version of Rodrigues that she’s ever seen.
“I think every fighter that’s been doing it for a long time, including myself, we all have tendencies that don’t go away after, you know, we haven’t fought for a couple of years," Todd says. “Those tendencies come out, so I expect those tendencies to be there, and I also expect for good technique or good structure to be there, so I’ve been training for that. I expect with the baby, she’s got new inspiration to fight, so I’m expecting her best, and that’s exactly what I wanted.”
Todd is currently the only U.S. athlete to hold a ONE title in either kickboxing or Muay Thai, with other champions hailing from around the globe, including Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Suriname, Sweden, Thailand and Ukraine. Her position is a result of 13 years of effort, much of which took place away from the bright lights of combat sports’ biggest stages, but with ONE Championship now featuring multiple martial arts disciplines in U.S. prime time, Todd is excited to showcase her talent.
“I’m actually really excited about that being sort of like a representative of American Muay Thai and kickboxing," Todd says. “To be part of Amazon Prime live, to be able to showcase what ONE Championship is about to more viewers in the States, it’s exciting to be at the forefront of that and to introduce the American crowd to ONE championship because it's different from other promotions, and man, when they talk about a mixed martial arts promotion, they got all the arts in there.”
So yes, technically, Todd is already a champion in two different disciplines, but even the night she claimed her interim Muay Thai belt, she knew another champion was looming on the horizon, waiting to make a return. That happens at ONE Fight Night 8, and Todd makes no attempt to hide what the moment means to her.
“I think because I work so hard to obtain it, I’m most definitely going to ugly-cry because I tend to do that anyway," Todd says with a laugh. “It’s hard to hold in those emotions, and I think when I hold it in even more, it turns out even uglier. But yeah, it's going to be a dream come true for me to finally say, yes, I’m a champion in kickboxing and muay Thai.”