August 12, 2016 – Asiatique in Bangkok, “Road to Abu Dhabi” show.
Cornered by fucking Karuhat and Dieselnoi! That’s the takeaway from this experience! I was excited to be fighting Loma again, as she’s kind of my nemesis and beating her is something that I’ve set as a goal for measuring my progress in the long-term. She’s a very simple fighter, and I don’t mean that in a negative way; she’s carved her skill set out for herself and she can bank on the simplicity of approach due to how keen she is in that set of skills. She doesn’t need to be complex, and she forces the fight to be fought where she excels, which is what the top fighters do. She very difficult to beat, not only for myself, but pretty much anyone. I count her the best female Muay Thai fighter in the world at 48 kg and under.
Leading up to this fight I’d trained really hard, really focused on strengthening my ability to deal with how Loma was going to throw me around. I would finish my regular morning training at Petchrungruang and then head over to Rambaa, who would work with me for about an hour on strikes and some clinching. He’s small and way stronger than anyone I’d ever face at my size, so I thought he was a good person to train with for being thrown around. Ultimately, he trained my heart, planting seeds that may take months or even years to fully grow. As to the fight itself, I didn’t have a corner, which usually I can pick up at the event, but this was not a regular card where that would be an easy option. I only know a few people in Bangkok, so I asked the legend Karuhat if he had any friends who could corner for me; he said he’d do it. Fucking hell. Talk about a dream for me. Then Dieselnoi showed up and helped get me ready, came to my corner during the fight, etc. Unreal. I wrote about that here, you can see 20 minutes of it live streamed below:
Going into the fight I felt good. I was nervous because it’s Loma and it’s a big show and all that, but I felt really good with Karuhat getting me ready. Maybe I was a little too distracted from the fight, with the long wait and then suddenly it was time to go. I was prepared but not quite ready, maybe. Karuhat wrapped my hands and gave me my oil massage. He taped my shirt (which was provided by the show so didn’t fit), which was a very sweet experience for me, to have a fighter legend and a man figuring out how to secure my shirt. It’s a distinctly not-male thing to help me with, although as a very small person himself it felt like an appropriate thing for him to help me resolve. Dieselnoi warmed me up big time, talked to me at length about how he wanted me to grab Loma in the clinch (like, how to do it, not that I should do it at all) and then we all went downstairs to get to the stage. Emma and her boyfriend Tu were there with me, as well as Stewart Pringle – a fighter whose name I’d seen on cards when I was fighting up in Chiang Mai – and a friend of his who used to train with Karuhat. He’d brought them along to help corner, which I thought was pretty cool.
I can’t say a whole lot about the fight itself, but on review it is one of the most uneventful, yet mistake filled fights I’ve ever fought. Loma is just a fighter that takes a lot off the table, and though I knew and prepared for that, things didn’t go my way pretty quickly. Two pretty big things were this: I’d been told it was a 5 round fight and it wasn’t, it was 3 rounds, but I only found this out when I was sitting in the corner after the first round (I overheard the broadcast guys mention it). Ugh. So I had already wasted the first round by not pressing forward enough into and energetic clinch as Loma was throwing very nice kicks at me and staying away. The first round of a 3 round fight and a 5 round fight are very different things. As far the energetic clinch, once we did lock up, because I was so stagnant and stiff once I got there (a big no-no against Loma), she started whipping me with her throws due to basic technical mistakes I was making (taking outside positions, overturning in my lock, stepping to the middle of her body, etc.) all things I know not to do but I just kept repeating – I was brain-locking in a big fight. The preparation I’d done went out the window, which is fine, it happens. You don’t just train something and automatically have access to it under that much pressure, but I was lost in a more wholesale sense. And things I do know how to do, that I should have been doing, were also completely gone. I was a mess, and I made it a very easy fight for her in the first half. On top of this though somewhere in round 2 Loma threw me and landed on top of me, and I hit with a lot of weight on the back of my head. I got significantly concussed, though nobody knew even long after the fight. I was rung and don’t remember anything other than snippets of the fight after that moment. I remember a headbutt in which my forehead opened up. I remember pushing harder in round 3 and that was probably my best round, but waaaay too late to matter. I remember standing in the middle of the ring as she was announced the winner and given a trophy. And I kind of remember Dieselnoi talking to me in the corner but nothing of what he said. This was my first concussion in over 150 fights, and it happened on a throw.
Afterward, Karuhat and Dieselnoi were talking to me a lot about what I should have done. I wish I could remember this, actually. There are photos, in which you can see in my face that I am completely gone due to the concussion. Apparently I asked whether I’d been knocked out and “was it bad?” over and over again, on repeat, for almost an hour. Finally I broke out of that record loop in the bathroom where Emma had taken me to change. I recalled to her that I’d been thrown onto my head and therein was the realization for everyone how I’d been concussed. I went to the hospital to get some stitches (just 4, small cut) and was feeling pretty loopy. There was a swell of disappointment about how the fight went, about letting myself down, all my training for this not getting into the ring, and generally feeling embarrassed for how I performed with these heroes of mine in the corner. But you know what? I’d rather get in the ring with these guys cheering for me and fall on my face than never have that experience at all. So, still a fucking awesome thing.
Loma and I took this photo after the fight, which I vaguely remember. Those are her parents on either side. They’re all very good people.
Post Fight Video Update