Buntan's road back to the top will begin on Friday, December 2, against Amber Kitchen. The two Muay Thai athletes will be part of the stacked ONE on Prime Video 5: De Ridder vs. Malykhin event from Manila. And Buntan is finding motivation in her loss ahead of the clash at the Mall of Asia Arena.
"Losses suck. It's never a great feeling. But in general, in my whole life, I'm just not the type of person to stay down. I just can't let myself do that. I can't let myself be miserable like that. But I'd be lying if I told you that it didn't affect my confidence," said Buntan.
"But moving forward, it showed me a lot of strengths that I had that really solidified that I had it. Meaning, my mental strength, my heart, my tenacity, there's no quit in me. So yeah, that really lit a huge fire."
Kitchen will not be an unfamiliar foe standing across from her inside the Circle. The two strawweights met previously on the amateur circuit five years ago. Although much has changed since that meeting, the experience of knowing what her opponent feels like will help her set the tone at ONE on Prime Video 5.
"I think her strengths are, she's strong. I felt that firsthand when we first fought; it was five years ago as amateurs. She's a strong fighter physically. She could be explosive as well. And, like I said, she has a good foundation. She's a good fighter," said the Boxing Works star.
As for weaknesses, Buntan believes she can exploit her cardio. The Los Angeles resident highlighted how Kitchen fades during the latter part of her matches and thinks she can keep the pressure on the Brit. If Buntan has her way, she will take over the match and begin connecting with heavy shots to send a message to the strawweight division.
The bout itself is not the only thing Buntan can celebrate. The former title contender will travel to Manila to compete in front of a friendly crowd in her biggest bout to date on Prime Video. As a Filipino-American, Buntan is excited to shine on a global stage and in front of the Filipino fans.
"But I think it's also cool just because, yes, I'm on the Amazon Prime card, televised for North America, but I'm actually fighting in Manila, Philippines. So it's a special thing on both ends. It's a really cool card to be on. On top of that, I'm on the same card as Janet [Todd], which just makes it even better. So I'm just excited, period. It's going to be really fun, really special," said Buntan.
Buntan does not want to let this opportunity slip through her fingers. Against a competitor such as Kitchen, the American wants to make an emphatic statement with an exciting and decisive performance. Feeding off of the energy of the crowd, Buntan could jump right back into the title picture with a thrilling victory.
And that is how she is planning to get the job done in Manila. Whether a title rematch comes next or if she needs more matches to climb back to the top, Buntan is using this moment to ensure her place as one of the sport's brightest young stars.
"An ideal way to come away with the finish is to assert myself. I should be mean and hurt her. It's one thing to win on points, but I really want to win by damage. I really want to hurt her, and I think that just goes because I want to like I said, prove a point. Assert myself, and just have a strong performance," said Buntan.
December 2 | ONE on Prime Video 5: De Ridder vs. Malykhin | 8 p.m. EST | 5 p.m. PSTFans in the U.S. and Canada can watch for free with an Amazon Prime subscription