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Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

Discussing the New WBC Female Muay Thai Rankings

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Let me just say, there has been perhaps no bigger setback for female Muay Thai than the lack of serious, regularly updated, multi-national, truly "world" level rankings. The WPMF site was trying hard many years ago, but it was drawing from a very small knowledge base, and it was practically impossible to keep up to date, especially given the shifting sands of Thailand's fighting. Lots of fighting. Finally they just gave up with the difficult endeavor. So the new WBC rankings are, right from the start, a huge leap for pretty much everyone. The weighing question really is, can it be kept up to date? Damn, I don't know. It's just a very difficult thing. But, this first release collection is amazingly good. Full of variety, coupled with strong and often suitable acknowledgement of Thai female talent.

I'd also say, one of the most important things about rankings isn't that you got it JUST right. It really should be about creating conversations and comparisons. Even debate and criticism. It's about getting people to not just care about the few fighters they know, but also other fighters. To familiarize oneself with the accomplishments of the many. Some of the discussion that follows is in that spirit. We don't have to get it right. Let's just keep it in the mix. But, let's also talk about getting it right too.

You can find the updated list on the WBC website here: Female Muay Thai WBC Rankings. But, I'll paste the rankings down below for convenience. If you have thoughts on who should be where, that's a cool thing, let's share.

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. 1139523905_WBCrankingsmini-flyweight.jpg.4c28dc6415e008e26ff11368ffc2423c.jpg

Because we all come from this from our own little fishbowl - even though Sylvie's fishbowl is larger than many others, it's still a fishbowl - the most interesting thing to me is the 105 lb division. 105 is the lowest weight the WBC can go at this point, but several of the fighters there are actually 100 lb fighters properly. #1 Loma reigned as the best 100 lb fighter for many years. #2 Gulapdam, I believe, holds the 105 lb WPMF title, but she legit is more a 100 lb fighter. #3 Sylvie walks around lighter than 105 lb, and could fight below 100 lbs. #4 Faa Chiangrai definitely is a 100 lb fighter. #5 Duangdaonoi historically had been able to reach 100, I'm not sure about now. I don't know #6. It's safe to say, almost the entire ranked division is more a 100 lb division, which is pretty cool. That means that there is some serious 100 lb talent out there in the world.

As to the rankings themselves, there are a few question marks. The first of course is Loma, who definitely deserves the respect for her years of high level supremacy. She was unequaled. But...she doesn't seem to be fighting Muay Thai any longer. Her last big fight, that I recall, was a disappointing loss in an early round at IFMA, but most importantly, she says she walks around now at around 57 kg (125 lbs), and has expressed an earnest desire to put on even more weight. She's had to almost entirely change her body just so she can compete at UFC straw weight, which has some VERY big fighters. She really, as a fighter, isn't close to being able to compete in her former stomping grounds. And, given that her career path is in MMA, she really lacks financial incentive to do so. This isn't something to hold against her. But...how long would she properly be thought of as a 105 lb fighter? It might be better to think of her as one of the best 112 lb Muay Thai fighters in the world? Maybe at some point. Be that as it may, her beautiful superiority at 100 lbs for so long really does grant her leeway in this. She deserves to start out as Queen on top. How long she remains there in an up to date ranking is another question.

As to #2 Gulapdam, the only quibble I would have is that the one time Gulapdam and Sylvie fought, a few years ago, Sylvie really owned that fight in a pretty distinct way (TKO, if I recall, with Gulapdam's corner throwing in the towel). So clear was the win that we really got the sense that a rematch wasn't something of interest at all to her camp. After that fight whenever a match up with her representative in the North was booked it wasn't Gulapdam who Sylvie faced, but rather the much larger and super skilled Thanonchanok (#3 at 112, above). it's actually a really good tough match up. Sylvie at 100 lbs was being booked vs a 112 lb champion, instead of the more natural 100 lb Gulapdam, by the gym that handled both fighters. You can see Sylvie pretty much overwhelming Gulapdam, a couple of years ago, here (Sylvie Petchrungruang vs Kulapdam Por Muangphet). No doubt both fighters have improved since then. I'll also say that Gulapdam is one of Sylvie's favorite fighters, and a really under recognized talent. It is very cool for her to be up at #2, I'm pretty happy with that.

As to #3, Sylvie. Well, it's Sylvie. I'm always of two minds on Sylvie in rankings. I'd prefer, all things being equal, for Sylvie just not be in the rankings. I like her to be an underground fighter because her progress is one of those incredible slow burns. And being ignored or underhyped actually is what is best for the long term process. Hyped fighters end up not fighting very frequently at all in Thailand. On the other hand, just thinking about Sylvie's position in the 105 lb rankings, making her case, something has to be said about all of her success fighting WAY up in weight, in fact multiple weight classes up, something no one does to the degree that she does. Point in fact, the WBC #1 ranked 112 lb fighter Pornphan, who is tearing up Thailand right now, lost to Sylvie about 2 months ago. You can see that fight below:

So you have the #3 ranked WBC 105 lb fighter beating the #1 ranked 112 lb fighter It was a close fight, and little publicized, but damn. Going up two weight classes to fight the best there, and winning, that's a notch in your belt, especially as a 100 lb fighter. This being said, Pornphan an awesome fighter, and huge props to the WBC for recognizing a rising talent like her. These are exactly the kinds of Thai fighters that are hard to pick up on your radar, from afar. In Thailand fighters like this just shoot up. Extremely complete fighters, full of experience and skill at every range. Sylvie's a difficult fighter to rank at 105 because she's had so much success fighting up. She pretty much controlled the currently ranked #2 fighter at 108 lbs, Rungnapa, when they fought a series of fights a few years ago, beating her 3 of 4 times despite giving up the weight. Sylvie's has beat the much respected #3 ranked 112 lb fighter Thanonchanok twice, once just 6 weeks before Thanonchanok flew to Japan to win a World Title, despite the weight (though Sylvie has lost the series between them). And she fought Wondergirl Fairtex, the #1 115 lb fighter in the rankings, in a very close fight that many in attendance thought Sylvie had won. You can see that fight here: Sylvie Petchrungruang vs Wondergirl Fairtex. Notably, Faa Chiang Rai ended up beating Wondergirl in that tournament, also giving up big weight. What is insane about Sylvie is how much she's fought the top fighters in weight classes so far above her, all the way up to ranked 118 lb fighters. 

#4 Faa Chiangrai. Yes, just a wonderful fighter. Sylvie and she have faced off several times. Sylvie took the edge beating her 3x in a month, and winning the Northern 105 lb belt in her hometown of Chiang Rai a few years ago. But...she has really improved, and has frankly been on the short end of some high profile international fights. She deserved to win vs Saya Ito for the 100 lb WPMF belt (I believe), and was kind of hometowned in that fight. She properly is a world champion, maybe several times over.

#5 Duangdaonoi. Properly recognized. She too could probably fight at 100 lbs. Had a rough time defending her WPMF 105 lb belt in Japan where she was just overmatched in size, a few years ago. Has had some success in boxing. I believe won a title. Sylvie and she had a very memorable fight a few years ago. Sylvie kind of ragdolled her, winning, but Duangdaonoi opened up a huge cut on Sylvie in a very bloody end.

#6 Saray Medina. We live in Thailand so haven't been as exposed to western fighters at this weight. I'm not familiar, so this is really on my ignorance.

maybe the Belarusian fighter Alena Liashkevitch who has beaten Loma in IFMAs at 45 kg deserves to be on the list...if she is still fighting?

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Janet Todd just "beat" Stamp Fairtex too although I reckon there is a lot of controversy about that (scoring looks weird).  One Championships.  Thanks for this, Kevin!  Super interesting and congratulations to Sylvie although it sounds like she belongs on the list in a few classes!

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Other interesting, or possibly questioned rankings are Lommanee at #1 at 108 lbs. I've ranked Lommannee very high, as high as being possibly the best in the world,, at some point. But she had a huge showdown fight vs Amy Pirnie, and lost. And then fought a kickboxing fight in Japan against someone distinctly smaller, and only came away with a draw. She hasn't had a big win against elite talent in a long while, so it is is maybe hard to put her at #1. This being said, she, like Loma, has been the Queen of her weight class for a long time, so maybe deserves to start out there.

Also, poor Amy Pirnie. She beat Lommanee in a big fight and kind of didn't get a lot of recognition for it. She has such explosive, beautiful Muay, but is only ranked #4 at 112 lbs. If I had to put my money down, I might take Amy against anyone in that division.

I LOVE seeing Dokmaibaa ranked #2 at 118 lbs. It's just amazing to see a talent like her recognized. And it's very cool to see Alma at #3 right behind her. That would just be a great fight to see right now. Two female fighters as good as you might want, right next to each other in the rankings.

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30 minutes ago, threeoaks said:

Janet Todd just "beat" Stamp Fairtex too although I reckon there is a lot of controversy about that (scoring looks weird). 

Yeah, but it was a kickboxing rules fight. Stamp won the Muay Thai matchup, so it makes sense that she would have the edge - though ONE judging is wonk in general it seems, so I never know how to take those fights.

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8 minutes ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Yeah, but it kickboxing rules fight. Stamp won the Muay Thai matchup, so it makes sense that she would have the edge - though ONE judging is wonk in general it seems, so I never know how to take those fights.

Oh ew kickboxing rules.  

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5 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I LOVE seeing Dokmaibaa ranked #2 at 118 lbs. It's just amazing to see a talent like her recognized. And it's very cool to see Alma at #3 right behind her. That would just be a great fight to see right now. Two female fighters as good as you might want, right next to each other in the rankings.

I second this! Dokmaibaa has been tearing it up for a long time and it's cool to see her up there. She's a favourite of mine.

I have to admit, it was hard for me to be excited about the announcement of these rankings. My reaction was 'well, this should have been done years ago'. It was less of a 'wow, this is so amazing' and more of a 'well, obviously'. This shouldn't be groundbreaking. But, I do appreciate that took a huge amount of work to put together, and I'm glad it's finally been done. I hope it goes on to be updated regularly. 

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23 minutes ago, emma said:

I hope it goes on to be updated regularly. 

That is going to be the bloody-hell hard part. There are just so many rates of change. And information funnels through very specific channels (how could it not). I can't imagine the process that could keep this updated across continents, but damn it's impressive that they are trying. I was a pretty big fan of the lower-weight WPMF rankings, until I realized that they just adjusted the top fighters when there was a fight for a belt, and left the rest unchanged, like forever.

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On 3/4/2020 at 7:36 PM, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

That is going to be the bloody-hell hard part. There are just so many rates of change. And information funnels through very specific channels (how could it not). I can't imagine the process that could keep this updated across continents, but damn it's impressive that they are trying. I was a pretty big fan of the lower-weight WPMF rankings, until I realized that they just adjusted the top fighters when there was a fight for a belt, and left the rest unchanged, like forever.

 

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About Saray Medina, since Im Spanish lol. She is very experienced and her big achievement was an IFMA world championship silver medal but in 2014. She fights but just in Spain and not regularly. Actually, she is one of the Spanish team coaches, I consider her more a coach than a fighter. On the other hand, any thoughts about bantamweight and featherweight, Kevin? Dont know, Chomanee and Sawsing... 5 & 4 🤨 Thanks!

P.D. Im glad for the ranking anyways! Lets hope it changes when fighters fight 😉

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2 hours ago, RamónRivera said:

About Saray Medina, since Im Spanish lol. She is very experienced and her big achievement was an IFMA world championship silver medal but in 2014. She fights but just in Spain and not regularly. Actually, she is one of the Spanish team coaches, I consider her more a coach than a fighter.

Wow, thanks for the fill in! Exactly what I was hoping to hear. Seems like they peppered in some notable names from the past in some of these divisions, which I suppose is to be expected when a ranking first begins.

2 hours ago, RamónRivera said:

any thoughts about bantamweight and featherweight, Kevin?

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This is a hard division. Sofia is definitely a top fighter on anyone's P4P list. So yes. And I've mentioned my appreciation for Dokmaibaa and Alma. Zaza, honestly, is just a big name from the distant past. She hasn't beaten anyone top ranked, who actually weighs the same, in a very, very long time, as as I know. You can see in this fight between her in Alma 1.5 years ago the huge distance between them in skill and readiness (watch it here):

Zaza is much more a "name" that derived from her attractiveness and her early World Title at the age of 14, a long time ago. It's just my opinion, she's a tough fighter, but isn't really a World Class fighter at this weight. She also lost to a much, much smaller Lisa Brierly who is ranked #3 at only 49 kg, several weight classes down. Hey, every ranking probably needs names and figures, and given that the rankings for this division have a vacant spot, maybe they were happy to put her on there.

As to Chommanee? Oi. Literally one of the best female Muay Thai fighters in the world a few years ago, had mixed success in Glory kickboxing. But the real truth about her is that she probably hardly trains. I mean, she likely trains before fights, but I think she's just one of these very top Thais who really does not stay in regular training. It's one of the hardest things of ranking top Thai fighters. In terms of talent and skill, they are 9s or 10s. In terms of calluses and fight-shape, sometimes 3s or 4s. They've been fighting since they are like 8 years old, so it is in a way understandable that their drive into their mid-twenties just isn't the same. I mean, she deserves to be ranked, but who knows how much.

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I just don't know the European fighters high up on the Featherweight list. Sawsing is caught somewhat in the same boat as Chommanee. I means, she's much more fight ready since she's taken on the Superchamp promotion responsibilities in Thailand, and of course beautifully skilled from years of competition, but it's unclear if she's growing as a fighter. I'm ok with her at #4, though if she were fighting a lot, and in the gym all the time, I could see her beating anyone in her weight class in full rules Muay Thai, in the world. She really is an excellent fighter.

 

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These rankings are really cool and inspiring to see! I've been trying to follow more female fighters and pay attention to those fight circuits, but being able to break them down by specific weight classes and a general top 6 is so helpful! It gives me something to work towards. I mean, I don't think I'd ever rank that high but just knowing which fighters are considered the top of my weight class is so awesome. Representation matters. Now there's this concrete thing in my head, like "if I want to be the best, I have to be [insert ranked fighter] good!"

And although you've already mentioned it, Kevin, I had the same thoughts about Loma being #1 in her class. Your insight on the matter helped add perspective, and I do agree that she deserves to start there...but don't think she should stay.

After reading your thoughts about the various fighters Sylvie has faced...do you think there should (or could) be a general, non-weight restrictive ranking? Or would that be too hard to quantify because of various weight, skill, and experience factors?

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28 minutes ago, QueenOfHell said:

After reading your thoughts about the various fighters Sylvie has faced...do you think there should (or could) be a general, non-weight restrictive ranking?

I mean, orgs sometimes make p4p rankings to generate excitement, so I guess there could be that, but that is not necessary. But in Sylvie's case, if you have beaten the #1 ranked fighter 2 weight classes up, you probably shouldn't be ranked #3 in your own weight class... Being able to beat bigger, ranked opponents is a sign of skill and dominance. I don't really blame the WBC though, it's almost impossible to keep track of so many fights. I'm sure nobody knew that she had beaten the #2 fighter in her own division either.

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The "Be more civilized!" and "Distinguish the genders!" that was once demanded by the globalizing West has become "Be more violent!" and "Equalize the genders!" by the globalizing West...a West that is actually now an Internationalist vision. What is missing from this story perhaps is the equivalence of Britain's Suffragettes Self-Defense Club, which is to say the way in which equality under a martial arts rationalization is connected to the political fight for women's liberties and rights. From my view I suspect that the growing importance of respected female fighting in combat sports is an expression of the increased social and economic capital women have in a globalized world. Women as having real and imagined physical prowess in the traditionally male-coded ring (and cage) symbolically manifests actual changes in female powers in society. Women in rings has grown out of the Suffragettes Self-Defense Club, not now equalizing themselves with embodied knowledge in the streets against police, but rather signifying their political and socio-economic heft to a globalized world. Yet, as all things bend back, the commercialized capture of symbolized female power in the ring is part of its re-domestication, as women's bodies become sites of judgement and eroticized re-packaging, problemizing any overriding narrative of liberty. As women are called to the ring under the auspices of aggression-first promotional fight theater in the double-bind navigation of globalized freedoms, the role of rationalization remains circumspect. Rationalization can and does lead to the re-codification of the genders, as we see with the conventions of institutional competition, as well as within the commodification of the female person and body by combat sport entertainment, yet it also holds the power to un-moor entrenched sexism and bias which work to restrict the possibilities of women as fighter who stands as proxy to the power of women in general.
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    • Great Step Taken. I would always admire Lumpinee as an inspiration!!!
    • I wanted to comment on this theme of MMA in regards also to what Kevin said on your last Muay-Thai Bones Podcast ep 26. Kevin spoke that he felt a red line had been crossed by allowing MMA in Lumpinee. He said He didnt want inferior MMA being shown there as one reason. He spoke of the inferior MMA of One Championship as compared to the UFC. Though the pool of fighters in One is smaller, it has for instance Team Lakay from the Philippines, and the Lee family of Hawaii:  Angela, Christian and now Victoria who could be champions in the UFC too, The UFC is best at exploiting and ruining the lives of its fighters who are subject to terrible contracts and endless bullying by this massive corporation.  Thank God One Championship exists, and many thanks to Chatri Sidyodtong for bringing Muay-Thai and Kickboxing into the program in 2018. The real problem of having MMA in Lumpinee is the problem of MMA itself. MMA usurped MuayThai years ago as the premier fighting art. In the early 90s when they had the first cage fights, it was also a contest of which style would prevail. Unfortunately BJJ 🤢 was the winner in those early years. Muay-Thai was only useful in standup, and striking could only prevail on the feet. If the fight went to the ground grapplers would prevail. Wrestlers, judokas jui jitsu, and sambo fighters could easily take down a stand-up fighter and submit or choke him out.  A third point which makes MMA the most attractive art is the streetfighting aspect which makes it more "realistic" to the bored average Western viewer. So MuayThai is seen as only one part, -and a less important aspect of MMA😢. What I am getting at basically is that from a Muay-Thai standpoint it would be better if MMA:                                         A) Never existed, or                                         B) Would just go away!😈
    • It was just announced that, starting January 8th of next year, Lumpinee will start promoting an afternoon show that is only children. There will be 4 bouts per card, starting at 1:30 PM. Children have been permitted to fight at Lumpinee for a long time, but there has always been a weight limit (and ostensibly an age limit, but I'm not sure what that was; the weight limit kind of takes care of the age limit at the same time) of 100 lbs. As it's been told to me by Legends and older fighters who entered Lumpinee at that 100 lbs minimum, it's a bit of a forgiving line and fighters sometimes had to eat and drink in order to try to hit 100 lbs, rather than anyone dropping down to it. This new show is lowering the weight limit to 80 lbs, which will allow younger fighters or will at least acknowledge what weight some of those fighters are actually at when they come to the stadium. The intention of the show is to give access and opportunity to dao rung or "rising stars" as they are called in Thai. It's unclear from the announcement who will be the promoter for this particular program, but it's in line with something that Sia Boat of Petchyindee had initiated and invested in for his own promotions prior to the most recent shutdowns from Covid. It is unlikely that this will include girls; but we'll see. Of note is that the graphic used for this announcement are two young fighters Jojo (red) and Yodpetaek (blue), two top young fighters are 12 and 13 years old, who recently fought to a draw on a high profile fight. Neither of these two fighters meet the weight requirement at 80 lbs.
    • To be honest, from my perspective, it feels like "ok we going to allow women fighting so we just gonna allow everything". Pyrrhic victory. 
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