I had just turned around from giving respect to my opponent’s corner, the sip of water that is ubiquitously offered still in my mouth, when the decision of my last fight was announced. I didn’t really hear it, but my corner started laughing and shaking their heads in a combination of surprise and no-surprise. My mouthguard was still suctioned to my top teeth and a little piece of ice from the sip of water started to slip/lodge in the back of my throat and I coughed it up, kind of spitting my sip of water and ice onto the mat. Timing-wise, it looked like I spit in shock to the announcement of the fight being a draw, which must have seemed pretty funny to those who caught it.
I stepped down the stairs out of the ring and Andy gave me a huge smile, “you know what that was, right?” he asked. I shook my head, no. “They want a third fight, so they had to call it a draw.” I heard this a few more times from other trainers, but mostly I heard that the decision was bogus and I’d won. It didn’t matter to me, really. I hadn’t done enough to be so sure of myself that I felt robbed, but I certainly didn’t think I’d lost and was happy that, indeed, I hadn’t. A couple of Thai men came out of the better’s crowd and spoke animatedly to some of my trainers and then turned to me and in broken English said, “no good; you win.”
My feelings over the matter are pretty mild. I didn’t lose and I didn’t win, but I’ll win the next one. But in order to understand what was going on in that fight and to help me make the next one more decisive, I asked Brooks C. Miller (who has written very helpful articles on Scoring Muay Thai Fights including the breakdown of a previous fight of mine) to look at the fight and give me his thoughts. Glad I asked, Brooks is always very helpful. Here is his analysis – please note, if you haven’t read Brooks’ previous article, that rounds 1 and 2 are generally scored as 10/10 with a note regarding which corner had the advantage in case those rounds are needed for a decision after the fight is complete.
I have watched and judged the fight. While I’m pretty confident I have done a good job scoring and that you should have won, I now have questions about certain scenarios/exchanges…
Here is how I have it:
Round 1: 10-10 (advantage red). Red used effective aggression to stalk her opponent, scoring 2 sweeps. Blue used effective defensive counter strikes and landed a big roundhouse kick after making red miss.
Round 2: 10-10 (advantage blue). Red was more aggressive. Blue landed a BIG round kick to finish the round.
Round 3: 10-9 (red). Red dominated the scoring with clinch knees. Blue predominantly used stalling tactics in the clinch.
Round 4: 10-9 (red). After a slow start to the round, red landed 2 knee strikes to opponent’s head, then landed some additional clinch knees to the body. Blue started the round strong and was ahead, but after the knee strikes to the head began resorting to stalling tactics which allowed red to catch up and pass on scorecard.
Round 5: 10-9 (red). Red again started the round slow, but finished the round with 2 or 3 knees to opponent’s head, some solid punches, and additional knees to body. Blue started the round very strong with a big knee combination of about 5 consecutive knee strikes to red’s torso. 2 or 3 landed effectively. Blue also landed a big round kick, but again at the midway part of the round, began resorting to stalling tactics.
Final Score: 49-47 (red wins)
IMHO, you should have won this fight. But this brings to mind another fight I recently scored that went opposite of what I felt the score should have been where a fighter from Kaewsamrit fought against a farang. The fighter from Kaewsamrit won the match though I honestly felt the foreigner should have won. It makes me question how the value of certain techniques is viewed.
For instance, the most questionable round to me was the final round. I could see a case for it being deemed a draw, or even going your opponents way. Your opponent started strong with that clinch knee combo. It is my understanding that landing consecutive strikes in that way is almost a guarentee to seal the round in your favor. However, I only clearly saw about 2 (maybe 3) of those knees land effectively. Despite not landing effectively, her ability to fire off that many consecutive knee strikes with no response (counter) from you put her well ahead on the cards.
You turned the tables and finished the round strong, landing 2 or 3 unanswered KNEES TO HER HEAD! As knee strikes to the head are more valuable, I feel that this should have swung the round back in your favor. I clearly saw 2 of those knees connect, and the 3rd one was a little obscured so I’m not positive it landed cleanly.
Now, here is where I start to question my understanding of Thai scoring. As we have discussed in the past, the Thai’s view a fight the same as a foot-race. It’s not how you start, but how you finish. It is my understanding that the FOURTH round is the most important, as that is viewed as the “sprint to the finish”, and round 5 is viewed more like a cool down period. Considering I had you ahead on the cards, winning both the 3rd & 4th rounds, its questionable to me whether or not her winning the 5th round should have drawn you back even. She should have needed a knockdown or standing 8 count.
As a matter of fact, let’s consider what happened in both rounds 4 & 5. In both rounds, your opponent came out of the gate strong, jumping ahead on points. In both of these rounds, I feel that you wound up taking control back from her to win. Again, this goes back to my understanding of its not how you start as much as how you finish. I believe that, to an extent, this applies to individual rounds as well.
Despite the score of round 5, you had definitely won round 3, and it is my opinion that you won round 4. I don’t feel her stalling tactics were effective enough to prevent you from scoring and taking either rounds 4 or 5. As the fight was declared a draw, its possible that her tactic of jumping out to an early lead, and then stalling, in the final 2 rounds caused both rounds to be scored draws.
Even though your fight has me wondering about the depth of my knowledge of Muay Thai scoring, I’m still confident that you should have rightfully won this fight.
As far as other advice goes, I only have 2 minor points. In a number of instances, early in the fight, you had caught your opponent’s leg. A number of times, you attempted to counter with a punch. Unless your punch is exceptionally strong, this is not the most effective counter. If you want to lead off with a punch, you need to turn it into a combination that includes a kick and/or knee strike as well. Otherwise, your opponent is still likely to ‘win’ that exchange.
The only other point is that in rounds 3-5 (especially 4), you need to “turn it up”. The final 3 rounds of the fight need to be higher paced, hence why they start playing the fight music faster. A really good fight to watch as an example is Buakaw vs. Marco Pique from Holland. In the 1st two rounds, Marco Pique looks as though he is going neck & neck with Buakaw, trading blows and definitely looking to Buakaw’s level. But suddenly round 3 happens…. Buakaw takes it up to the next level, and you realize that Marco Pique doesn’t have anything to answer it. You have to start developing that next level to your game. (Much easier said than done).
All in all, this was a much better fight than that 1st fight I scored for you. In this fight, you are using EFFECTIVE aggression. While your opponent was still making you miss, she was unable to mount effective counters for much of the fight. You didn’t let her draw you in this time.
On to the next….