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MTG: The Curious Case Of “The Phantom Casual Fan Offensive” in Muay Thai and Kickboxing

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MTG: The Curious Case Of “The Phantom Casual Fan Offensive” in Muay Thai and Kickboxing

Interesting article about growing casual fans of muay thai in the west.

I became a casual muay thai fan via feminism and women's empowerment. I stumbled across a bjj blog, Jiu Jiu's BJJ Blog. Started reading that, she linked to Sylvie's blog, 8limbs.us and the rest is history. I've also started following MMA. I'm not particularly interested in any of the male fighters though. Came for the bad ass women, stayed for the bad ass women. 

I'm the kind of bad fan that isn't gonna make anyone any money though. I do my fight viewing via youtube/reddit gifs. I don't buy PPVs or merch. I do feel slightly guilty about that but I'm not hardcore enough to need to see a fight live. Especially since most fight cards only have one women's match which is what I'm interested in.

 

 

 

 
 
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Yeah, the thing he talks about: promotions lack fighters with fierce personalities. They don't show the personalities.

On one hand, the thing I love about Muay Thai is the respect and control of emotions. On the other hand - yeah this is exactly what prevents the best fighters to be recognizable for their personalities. 

I admit the drama the MMA circle is creating really draws attention, but sometimes I feel disgusted by hearing how top fighters bad-mouth each other. So I'm kinda in-between. I want Muay Thai to be better known, but I don't want the "morality" to go down the drain. 

I came to watch MMA when I learned about the UFC The Ultimate Fighter Season 20 with all girls on board :) I liked Gina Carano and Ronda Rousey before, for being pioneers in the MMA arena, but I started following some fighters after I watched the series ;)

I don't really watch Muay Thai fights...I'm a bad fan. I prefer training :)

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I hate the ridiculous posturing and manufactured grudge matches of MMA. Although, I found Joanna Jedzrejczyk and her pasta necklaces pretty funny. I think she's my new favorite MMA fighter. 

Some day I will get up the courage to try muay thai out for myself but today is not that day.

I agree that having a story/personality behind a fighter is important, although I can't stand reality television so the only parts of TUF I watched were the fight replays.

Having said that, I wish I could find a way to watch the  Enfusion reality series that Iman Barlow was in.

I mildly follow Angela Hill because I know she and Sylvie fought as amateurs. It's interesting to see how wildly their careers diverged. I ran across a hi-light reel from Angela the other day that had a few quick flashes from their fight. Back when the fights happened Angela and her camp wouldn't let Sylvie post the full fights on youtube.

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I dont really mind being a fan of a niche sport. The only way it affects me is that instead of talking about it with my friends IRL I talk about it with my friends from the internet. Very few of my friends are into sports anyways, so it wouldnt be much different if it was any other sport. The only time I get a bit disappointed is when I get into something so niche that the internet doesnt have enough like minds for me to find. I have yet to find another fan of watching Shuai jiao.  :down:

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Kevin and I talk about this quite often. It's strange and, at times, frustrating for me because we recognize that the fan-base in the west is largely the Keyboard Warriors but that's just reality. You can't hand-pick who's supporting the game; in Thailand it's gamblers, which Thailand has been bitching about for years now.  But my thumb also really isn't in the pulse of the western audience - I just don't get it. I can't watch shows like Glory, Max or Thai Fight, which people seem to love; I shake my head in disbelief at performances that "the internet" is positively salivating over, like Buakaw's latest ventures or western fighters/fights people seem to love. Yes, we want the sport to spread and grow; but there seems to be a disconnect in what aspects of that sport/game/culture are going to proliferate.

Maybe like how the Germans really love David Hasselhoff or something. You can't say someone's enjoyment is "wrong," but it's just hard to understand. But then there's the other side, where it's someone geeking out over the staccato of the second violin section in an overture and everyone else is thinking, "I can't really hear it."

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I think Charlie Hustle got this right, and he got it wrong. The UFC took off because it tapped into both the absurdist passion of Pro Wrestling and the toe-to-toe tough man combat of western boxing. Muay Thai really has none of that. Muay Thai can't become the standup version of the UFC. It isn't what it is. I do think though that it won't grow if you don't know the fighters. Too many fighters hide their tape, hide their personalities, let gyms and promotions do their speaking for them. The one thing that always sells is human stories, people doing something they dream. But western Muay Thai fighters are too busy...more or less...pecking at other fighters and gyms on Facebook and elsewhere, hiding their tape so they can boast about unseen accomplishments, or inflate minor records by not being studied. They should be busy telling their story, and telling the story of other fighters too. The pie is WAY too small to be fighting over the tiny pieces of attention that anyone is getting. Grow the pie. There is no other way.

Promotionally Muay Thai should be emphasizing it's Thai-ness (yes, it's exotic qualities, that's how "Kung Fu" grew in popular culture) and extolling the lives of western Muay Thai fighters.

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Part 2  says the answer is drama, drama and more drama. 

 

For example, there is bad blood between California’s Combat Sports Academy (CSA) who happen to be very capable and effective self promoters, and the Chasteen/Earley brothers of Best Muay Thai in Arizona that went 100% ignored by anyone with a voice to speak to the casual fan. From a marketing standpoint, TALK about a missed opportunity!

At Lion Fight 18, CSA’s Eddie Abasolo fought Best Muay Thai’s Damien Earley and was disqualified after an [accidental or intentional depending on who you love more] illegal elbow to the back of the head. From there trash talking ensued on social media between both camps. It was a decently interesting affair; nothing earth shattering but it had potential to pay-off later.

I can't think of anything more boring this this. Squabbling gyms? Ugh. People bitching in social media? If this is what "saves" Muay Thai in the West, let it die.

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I definitely agree about the drama- The only reason I actually knew this McGregor vs. Mendes fight was happening in the first place was all the hype that popped up on social media and other websites about McGregor and his (for lack of a better word) shit-talking.

I think that Muay Thai and MMA do also draw difference audiences though. MMA seems to embody a whole lot of aggression, people want to see these people go at each other like animals sometimes. It's completely opposite with Muay Thai in Thailand, where the point is to stay calm under duress.

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Squabbling gyms? Ugh. People bitching in social media? If this is what "saves" Muay Thai in the West, let it die.

I hate this idea, too. It's unfortunate that such a large portion of the Muay Thai fan base consists of the 'bro' crowd, who lap this stuff up. As much as I can see his point that it would help promotion in the West, it's definitely not something I'd like to see and certainly not something I can imagine happening in Thailand. In fact, I think it would defeat the whole point of the sport. The fact that it doesn't have this bullshit is part of why a lot of us love it so much. I'm with Sylvie in that I can't watch most of these new, Westernised Muay Thai shows like Max, Thai Fight, etc. I've never even bothered to watch a Glory show. For me, they have no appeal, so I disagree with his idea that 'the snobby 1%' will be there no matter what. 

Yeah, the thing he talks about: promotions lack fighters with fierce personalities. They don't show the personalities. 

This is something that Ronnie Green has been telling me constantly, ever since I met him last year. He also hates the 'tough guy' aspect of Western combat sports and desperately wants to find a way to show the stories and personalities of Thai fighters to the rest of the world. It's something that he's really passionate about. I agree that this is something Thailand is missing.

 

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I can't think of anything more boring this this. Squabbling gyms? Ugh. People bitching in social media? If this is what "saves" Muay Thai in the West, let it die.

This is the problem though, majority of combat sport fans are people that haven't trained, so they don't understand the technical aspect and that's why they need the drama. In their mind if two people aren't trying to furiously knock each other out or insulting each other then it's just boring. I don't see how Muay Thai can grow if it keeps the calm, humble, and cultural aspects because the couch-potatoes don't want to see that, therefore it won't sell IMO. 

It's like the UFC you can tell roughly 90% of fans have no clue about mma because when the fight goes to the ground they don't see the technical aspect they just see two people lying down, and that's boring to them so they boo. 

I'm really crap at explaining and getting my point across but I remember Mayweather saying no one liked him or had heard of him when he was a humble fighter and as soon as he started talking shit, and became money Mayweather he was making hugeeeeee money. So that just portrays what the western combat fans want to see/what sells in the west.

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