Loma Lookboonmee is ranked as #1 in my listing of best female Muay Thai fighter in the world, 48 kg and under. She’s incredibly slick, has a very high ring IQ, and is very difficult to fight. It’s just hard to get anything in on her – she snuffs most of your strikes with perfectly timed blocks and counters, then you somehow end up on your back – usually under her – on the canvas when you try to clinch with her.
This past month (July 9th, 2016) Loma flew to Australia to fight on the Epic promotion, put on by retired World Champion Caley Reece and her husband/partner Daz. It’s very rare for Thai women under 50 kg to have this kind of opportunity to fight abroad, other than Japan. It’s incredible that Caley is creating this kind of opportunity with her promotion and as Loma’s opponent, Kim Townsend, is one of Caley’s longtime students at Riddler’s Gym in Australia, maybe even more Thai female fighters will find their way to the promotion (Caley fought Chommanee there about 2 years ago, and she also flew Nong Em of Santai Muay Thai out last year to fight Kim), opening the door for more, largely under-appreciated, Thais to fight on other cards around the world. Caley is leading the way here.
Loma told me that the fight was set to be at 51 kg, Kim weighed in at 50.5, Loma weighed in at 49 kg with clothes and shoes on. In any case, Kim probably had a few kilos on her by fight-time, perfectly suitable for the difference in experience, as Loma must have 100+ fights and has been fighting since a kid.
It appeared in the first round that Kim was prepared for Loma’s throws in the way she keeps her left foot outside of Loma’s stance and keeps kneeing on that side. This is a favorite turn direction for Loma, and Kim’s positioning seemed to stymie her. After that first round, however, it seems that Kim was less enthused about attacking in the clinch, and when they clinched up that particular success of left-foot-out and left-side-knee gave way to a valiant attempt by Kim to employ all kinds of different strikes, just trying to land something on Loma. For her own part, Loma just waits. She is expert at the waiting game. She’s comfortable in backwards fighting and counter striking, likes to fight with her back against the ropes. She just wants to throw a few right kicks to score, deflect everything you throw, lock up and either walk you into a trip, or pull you into a throw over her right thigh. On a personal note it was especially exciting for me to see her hop on the caught kick and keep her balance (Kim does get her down once, which was also amazing), which is a technique taught and enforced by the Patriarch of Dejrat Gym, Ajarn Surat, Loma’s trainer in Bankok. You can see him insisting on this stability in this training video shot at Dejrat this year when I visited. I’ve worked a lot on this myself since.
I’ve fought and lost to Loma three times now and I know how frustrating it is to fight her. By fight’s end Kim’s frustration is evident and I feel for her, believe me. Even though it doesn’t look that bad from the outside, from inside the fight you just feel like you’re getting tossed around and nothing you are doing is working; it’s humiliating. Kim tries to cut angles in order to land her kicks on Loma and uses some footwork and stutter stepping to try to sneak a strike in, but Loma counters or snuffs almost everything. I don’t want to “armchair coach” on this fight, but in watching it and thinking about my next fight with Loma, it seems that at least for me simplifying the attacks in order to bait Loma’s blocks, waiting for those blocks and then countering with a different strike is a good approach in contrast to the variety of attacks Kim was trying. When fighting Loma, you really just end up trying stuff, and thinking “nope, that didn’t work,” “nope, not that,” and “not that either”. She’s so hard to solve.
Loma is the Best Right Now
I don’t know how many fights Loma has racked up over her career, but as I said I’d imagine it’s well over 100. She’s been on the Thai National Team for both National and International Championships for multiple years, usually taking Gold. (This year in Sweden she won Silver at the IFMA’s after a spectacular, close final fight that resulted in a loss for her, as the international scoring appears to differ from Thai scoring in some regards, minimizing throws perhaps, favoring aggression a little more.) Her style is just really hard to deal with. She’s strong, but not super powerful. She’s frustrating more than she is intimidating; you come out of fights with her thinking, “what the hell was that?” rather than that you know exactly what you could and should have done. Her technique is solid but her timing and IQ is just brilliant. She can feel where you’re going to be and just tips you off your mark, whereas she is almost never off balance – only when she’s landing on top of you in a throw and even that is pretty measured. She fights more with a Thai male standard of control than any other female fighter I’ve seen.
International experience: In December of 2012 Loma who was 15 years old flew to Japan and fought the unreal powerhouse Erika Kamimura (that fight here – rare footage) who was about to turn 19, and was KO’d by Erika’s signature power, a right cross, probably giving up 2 or more kilos in that fight. Loma’s walking around weight is under what Erika’s fight weight was at 105 lb. Then 3 days later she beat Denise Castle in Thailand for the S1 Championship (that fight here). Whatever you may think about it in terms of safety, she was knocked out cold by the biggest punching light-weight female Muay Thai has known, in Japan, and then after a long flight home to Thailand took the belt against another hands heavy fighter on the King’s Birthday, less than 3 days later – tough as hell. Then in June 2013 Loma fought Denise in England again (that fight here), but lost by decision in the UK (a decision that was very “western” in scoring in my opinion, I had Loma winning that fight by Thai scoring standards. Although Denise did evade Loma’s clinch dominance brilliantly at times). This is a loss that still saddens her, she tells me, every day. She felt should could have ended the fight in the 4th round, but restrained herself, feeling she had the fight won. She fought in Sweden for the IFMA’s this year and lost in the final against Alena Liashkevich (Belarus) in a questioned decision, again, a more international scoring aesthetic, after beating Alena for the Gold the year before. So she’s been on the international stage a little but, due to differences in scoring and weight hasn’t produced the dominant record that reflects just how incredibly good she is and that she surely has in her overall career – she is nearly unbeatable in Thailand. Her control can be seen in this fight. Even with some weight variation, Loma’s style allows her to take a pretty easy ride through most of her fights, using skill and timing to frustrate her opponents without emptying her gas tank. Discussions for Loma facing the phenom Phetjee Jaa O. Meekhun are taking place for a matchup in what we all hope is the near future, some of talk that has been going on for a very long time, but Jee Jaa is currently smaller than Loma so the issue of what weight they will fight at is part of the negotiations.
In Australia after the fight, Loma and her long-time girlfriend and fellow superstar Chommanee Taehiran.
There is a running Roundtable forum thread on this fight here.