January 24, 2017 – Kawilla Stadium, Chiang Mai – Live on Channel 3, three round fight
A few days before this fight I got a message from Kru Daeng, who usually corners for me, that he wasn’t able to come to the fight. That’s not really a problem, I’ve become quite comfortable and happy with finding a corner for myself at the fight in a kind of improvised manner. It would be a bit different in Chiang Mai rather than out in a rural field kind of fight, but I know so many people in Chiang Mai it would surely be easier. When we arrived at the stadium there were a few more surprises, like learning that the fight was only scheduled for 3 rounds and was to be broadcast live on Channel 3… didn’t know that bit of it beforehand. But the positive thing about all of those unknowns is that it actually reduced my stress. When there is surprise after surprise, I don’t have time to stress about it and it just becomes a smile, shrug, and “okay, let’s do that then.”
This card was a “America vs Thailand” thing, where every matchup (other than the two fights prior to going live on TV) were USA vs Thailand and the American IFMA youth team was there, which was cool. It was a bit hectic at moments and I was able to find a corner through this Spanish fellow I’d met on a card where we fought in Laos (his gym owner was one of the promoters on this show, so he wasn’t fighting but was there) and he was a great low-stress corner. I was also very happy that the Pettonpung, all-female gym from Mae Rim was there. I go clinch with them sometimes when I’m in Chiang Mai and I’m always super happy to see them at fights. They fight all the time, so I see them a lot.
the full fight with commentary, above
My opponent was Baifern, who I’ve fought maybe 5 times. I lost my first fight with her just before I left Chiang Mai for Pattaya, by referee stoppage on a cut. Then I smashed her in the rematch. Then she won on points in a decision that lots of gamblers and folks on the Thai-language chats disagreed with (I also thought I’d won – I find bad decisions to be rare in Thailand) and we rematched again with this big headline in the newspaper reading, “did Baifern really win?” And I smashed her again to prove my point. So this fight was after all of that. We have a bit of a history together. But I actually really like Baifern. She’s a straight-forward knee fighter, which is fun for me, and often fights opponents who outweigh her, so I feel like she’s got a fighter’s ethic. What I don’t like about her is that she complains to the ref during the fight sometimes, which seems petty to me. But whatever, everyone has their thing. I was happy to be fighting her at this event because I can test my development against her, since we’re more or less familiar and I have a track-record with her to compare and see he differences.
Before the fight we had to stand in front of this poster and hold these cardboard signs with sponsors on them for the TV broadcast. It was kind of fun to do this because I see it on TV all the time on Channel 7 and the fighters always look so awkward (I love that), but it is super awkward to hold these signs in gloved hands. And there’s always some sponsor standing between you and your opponent giving a thumbs up or something. The lights are so bright and I couldn’t decide whether or not to smile or look at the camera or just stare off into space like the fighters usually do. Once we got into the ring though I felt really good. I was feeling confident and free, like nothing mattered in terms of outcome or anything. I just wanted to experiment and give it a don’t give a fuck shot. And that worked beautifully. I stayed close and threw all kinds of strikes at Baifern before grabbing her and rocking her in the clinch. I threw an awesome elbow in the clinch (I have a complex history with elbows and throwing them in fights has been hard, so this was a huge deal for me) and stayed away from her front elbow – which the coach of my previous opponent, who had stopped me with exactly that elbow, was telling her to throw – and basically felt really good in the fight. It was fun; I enjoyed it.
So this fight was a big win for me, not just winning the fight but the experience all around. Being able to flow with the surprises and actually be stoked by them is huge, and more than anything it was fun and I got to try things out. Those are the best fights.
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