I honestly have very little idea about who I am fighting when facing a new opponent. My trainers at the camp seldom talk about who they may be, and sometimes I even get the idea that they might not completely know themselves (relying perhaps on what promoters tell them, which is sometimes inaccurate). So I was a bit surprised to find out that I’ve been fighting top ranked fighters – in the world rankings, I did know they were champions locally – near my weight lately – and this has no doubt helped contribute some to recent losses. I know I’m improving, but losses will always feel heavy, so the perspective of what pool I’m swimming in is welcome.
Nik at Santai Gym messaged me today to let me know that the girl I fought in Lampang at the end of November has been the reigning WMPF World Champion – Tonachanok. (The fight just prior to that in San Sai was against the #2 ranked fighter, Cherry, whom I’d won against maybe a month before.) Well, that was a surprise. I never have paid attention to these kinds of rankings, pretty much until today. The only WPMF champion I took notice of is Erika Kamimura who I love and whose left hook I started studying. One of the reasons I don’t think about rankings is that I just never imagined I’d be fighting these girls right now, nor do I make rankings and titles a focus for myself. Den, my head trainer, before the fight with Tanochanok mentioned in his usual off-hand way that she “used to be champion and has experience,” but that he thought she had not fought in a year and half; that’s what the promoter told him. But it seems that she actually won the World title a year ago in December, and defended it in February. Here is a look at the WMPF Light Fly Weight page:
She definitely won the fight against me. She was quite skilled and notably heavier and used both, but she also felt like someone I could beat with a little improvement. Knowing how highly ranked she is offers me even more encouragement. But when I looked at the WMPF page I noticed that Cherry, who I’ve faced twice, is the 2nd ranked Light Fly Weight fighter. I had heard that Cherry was good – a Lanna champion of some sort – when I fought her the first time and in a surprise to many I beat her – but it seems odd to discover that I’ve fought the top 2 WMPF fighters at 49 kg three times in the last 2 months, and came away with a victory. While I lost my rematch with Cherry I have come to realize that I really am fighting in another class of fighters now. These are top female fighters, and they are also technically 2 weight classes above me (ideally I would fight at Pin Weight 100 lb). This is a steep hill to climb. Yesterday I lost for the 2nd time to Sud Siam who is a Lanna Champion at what must be 53 kg or more.
What this means is that I’m going to really have to be scrapping for my victories, the margin for error is smaller, until I develop a few more techniques to deal with their advantages. My record might suffer, but I’m growing as a fighter now, perhaps faster than ever before.
More Fights and Details
It isn’t completely clear how up to date the WPMF rankings are, but in Muay Siam news Facebook Page I read that Cherry (my past opponent, twice) just beat Pizza Sor.Thipjaroen who seems to be the reigning WMC Pin Weight Champion (100 lb) as of Oct 2013. Photos from the event that just happened on December 6th in nearby Lampang, Cherry’s home town:
Pizza is called the “female Rambo” apparently and she’s a pretty spectacular 100 lb fighter, with strength and speed. I imagine Cherry used her own size advantage for the win, but that is a fight I’d love to have seen. And at my actual weight, Pizza is a phenomenal opponent to think about fighting. (And beating.)
Below is Pizza, female Rambo, beating Little Tiger of Japan (who may be the current 100 lb WMPF Pin Weight champion; it’s unclear due to dates and updating of the ranking page) for the WMC title, Pizza showing incredible domination, a fight put up by the amazing AppleBee:
Because these sites do not update their rankings that regularly, and because it seems like they are inaccuracies as well (for instance I can’t tell if Pizza or Little Tiger is the current WMPF Pin Weight champion, they seem to have fought more than once), I can’t be factually sure of who is ranked how and where. But it suffices to say that I unexpectedly have found myself fighting very high level fighters, and there is no doubt there has been and will continue to be a growth period as I push through losses to women who are literally the best in the world. Every one of my opponents outweighs me, so I can no longer muscle techniques that should be done with more control, and these are fighters that have technique and experience advantages as well. I have not been, nor will I be a belt-chasing fighter – it’s just not my dream – but I do want to improve to the point where I can fight anyone near my weight in the world and win. It is a new world to be suddenly in a pond with these bigger fish after just fighting with whomever they put in front of me. To have already beaten one of them, and knowing that with some work I could do it again, is really motivating. And I believe that the reason Den doesn’t know when I’m fighting the top-ranked fighters in the world near my weight is because he doesn’t follow female Muay Thai. So to be in the midst of these women, to realize where I am when I’m facing them, can only draw attention to the accomplishments of all of us, drawing out the names of Thai fighters who so often just disappear into the anonymity of “fighting a Thai.” We work hard whether anyone watches or not, but recognition never hurts. These women are amazing and I’m proud and grateful to be challenged to push harder.