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  1. First off it should be said that none of us have seen enough of either fighter's fights to really definitively say who is the GOAT. We have a handful of Samart's fights, and scraps of Dieselnoi's. It is a great loss. Secondly, it has to be said that those who have seen most of Samart's career, that is the Thais, more or less anoint him as GOAT. He is much beloved. I believe he was awarded his 3rd Fighter of the Year in his final year, ending on a fight he would lose. He is walking greatness. But, it is not as simple as that. Questions like GOATism are really about values, things to be celebrated, and therefore the question of who is the GOAT is perennial. In this question, as it lies between Dieselnoi and Samart, it very well may come down to He who fought hardest (presented himself as an irresistible, unfightable force) vs he who fought like he hardly had to fight (he who floated undisturbed). Which is more great? With these two fighters we also have historical evidence, this isn't a fantasy matchup. They actually fought in a huge, "Who is the best of Thailand?" fight, after Dieselnoi had run out of opponents in his own weight class at Lumpinee - a belt he would eventually have to vacate having cleared out the division. Dieselnoi took a huge weight cut to face Samart, dropping 19 lbs in just a few weeks, on weigh-in even giving Samart a 3+ lb advantage (129.7 lbs vs 133 lbs). That's right, Samart was allowed to be the bigger fighter by weight. It was a weight cut that Dieselnoi feels nearly killed him, and from which he feels he suffers from medically until this day, decades later. Dieselnoi won, eclipsing the charismatic Samart. He would not have many fights left in his career. Having defeated the best in Thailand the weight class below him, he would then, after I believe a year, go up in weight and defeat possibly the most feared fighter in the class above him. Sagat Petchyindee (of Street Fighter fame). Six months later he would completely dominate Sagat in the rematch, winning again. He bookended his greatness. Then well up in weight in his final two fights Dieselnoi would draw vs the powerful Krongsak (a fight Krongsak felt he won), and subsequently he would rematch Krongsak, defeating him definitively. Krongsak tells the story that Dieselnoi changed his tactics in the second fight, becoming more artful, more fimeu, giving him the final say between them. That, I believe, was Dieselnoi's last fight. At the age of 24 he had no more fights to fight. He had continued to train keeping himself in fight shape for several years, but there were none for him to be had. The question is: Why did Samart come out of of his faceoff with Dieselnoi unblemished with his GOAT reputation in tact? It was the extreme weight cut for Dieselnoi that caused famed promoter SongChai to criticize the bout, one he would never have arranged himself (maybe politics). But, Dieselnoi cleared every hurdle in this equation. He beat Samart, he beat Sagat, he exited the stage in his physical prime. He cleared the room. There is in Thailand - and maybe in the west in boxing - a dear appreciation for the lightest of styles (when coupled with some power). Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali somehow have a silkiness that defies the gravity that we all find ourselves bound to. And the art of a sport as brutal as boxing or Muay Thai in large measure is painting on that canvas, that one is not perturbed. But, that is not all that fighting is. Fighting is also the ascension of the relentless spirit, the incredible grind and power of the human heart. It is the grit of what works, and is working. The silk of Samart vs the engine of Dieselnoi. Even when the engine won vs silk, silk has been acclaimed. There is even more in this. Muay Thai historically and iconagraphically has always had a tension between the Bangkok (elite) high sense of art, and the power and heart of the fields (everything provincial or agrarian). This tension goes well beyond the story of Muay Thai, and in many ways it has been what has made Muay Thai so beautiful, and meaningful. The so-called Golden Age of Muay Thai in the late 1980s and 1990s was driven by the economic boom of those years. Not only was there heaps of money to invest in gyms and fighters, flowing to enlarged fighter pay and sidebets, but it was the provincial man, the workers, who swarmed to Bangkok to find employment in the suddenly burgeoning, cosmopolitan economy. It was they that filled the stands with their wages in their hands, betting them. It was they who bought the newspapers and magazines. Rural city Champions from those years, like Roi Et's Samson Isaan or Yodkhunpon, were often seen as too rough-hewn. Blunt force fighters. Unartful (though filled with hidden art). Muay Khao fighters a 2nd class of "greatness", even though dominant. Look through the Fighters of the Year Awards of that time and you don't see an endless string of femeu undefeatability. And, among them all, Dieselnoi was the most undefeatable. He was a Giant, but far from simply accrediting his victories to anatomy, name other elite very tall, long knee fighters? Anatomy does not confer greatness. If you meet Dieselnoi in person, and train along side him, you will immediately understand it wasn't his anatomy that made him like no other. He burns like nuclear fission. But, while Dieselnoi painfully watched his love for Muay Thai waste away, unable to fight anyone, eventually retiring and unglamorously becoming a trainer in Japan for a decade (I believe), Samart transitioned into an incredible, cross-over figure, not only a silky champion who can't be touched but also a movie star and a singing star. It was the transmigration of the brutish art, taken to its highest levels. This afterlife of Samart also is part of the equation. You ask Thai men about Samart and they swoon. Not only for his Muay Thai, but the completeness of his aura. Ultimately questions about the qualities of a fighter are questions about "the man". Philosophically one might observe: Heraclitus gnomically wrote "Habit is fate", equally translatable as "character is destiny" or much more wordily: "the things you repeat, what you do and do, is your divine angel, where you will be guided". In this way "your fighting style is your destiny, your aim, your home, your divinity". So who is the GOAT? Does Thai sentiment win the day or does the Thai bias towards fimeu hierarchy lose something important in the question? Does "most unfightable fighter" not translate into absolute Greatness? This is the heritage, the legacy we of the west have inherited in the record. We look back through a glass darkly. Somewhere out there is the footage of that showdown between Dieselnoi and Samart, perhaps it will shine a light back in history, and show us all the time when these two men touched gloves for real. this is from a Facebook post I put up a long time ago, but I think it's good to have here
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