In my first couple years in Thailand, I fought Yodying a bunch of times. This one was our 12th time in the ring together, although it had been about 4 years since our last meeting. This is the thing about Thailand: rematches. I like them, for the most part, as they force you to grow and change. Once someone knows your game – like, really knows it by experience, not because they “watched tape” of you fighting someone else – they make adjustments and whatever worked for you might not work again. Or it might be harder. Or it might still work but you have to try to push it to a different level nonetheless. That’s why I like rematches. When I was starting in the first years we faced each other frequently, in fact, Yodying broke my nose in our second or third fight together, then my next fight, while the nose was still broken, was against her again. You can’t allow yourself to be scared of someone; you just have to grow, otherwise you’re shrinking. I grew a lot in my fights against Yodying.
When we got to Thapae and I saw Yodying’s name on the card, I was surprised. If I remember correctly, I was supposed to be rematching a different opponent but she was in the hospital and Yodying was a replacement I hadn’t been told about. I was actually excited, because it had been so long since our last fight together and I know that I’ve changed a lot (I moved to Pattaya, I’ve really stepped up my clinch) so this would be an interesting way to gauge that difference. Working my way to the back of the stadium, where we set up the mat, I was greeted by vendors who recognized me and gave me a lot of thumbs up and smiles. At the back of the stadium I saw Paul “the condor” Banasiak (it’s actually “the Reaper,” but same same), who was in Chiang Mai training for an upcoming fight in the US. His energy is a wonderful blend of excitement and calm, which is nice to have around a fight. So, if you’ve got Paul in your corner as a fighter, good call.
Near to where my mat was laid down, Yodying and her older sister, former Northern champion Sudsiam were sitting on a long bench, watching the fights. I had fought Sudsiam as well, and up to that point had never beat her, she’s a few kilos bigger now and both are left handed. I smiled and they smiled back, as did their coach, who I think might be their father. He hadn’t seen me in a million years, either, so who knows what they were expecting. I wasn’t as tattooed the last time I saw them, which is the kind of thing I’m absolutely sure they noted. Sak Yant like this can be seen as quite intimidating to men, let alone to women who aren’t used to seeing them on their opponents, for sure.
I was a little uncomfortable because I’d accidentally left my fight top at home in Pattaya, so I had to go out and buy something I could fight in at a shop just right on our street in Chiang Mai. I think maybe I discovered the top was missing late, so I had very little time to find something (I don’t fight in just a sports bra, although if I did that would be super convenient). So I had this weird gray top in this fight that I think is supposed to be part of a sleeping set and it was much tighter than what I usually wear. Not constricting, but I was aware of it all the time. Once the fight started though, it was off my mind. I remembered that Yodying used to just lay on me in the ropes to snuff out the clinch – with which, I didn’t know how to clinch anyway but she killed what little advantage I did have on the inside with her size. I’ve made adjustments and I’ve also experienced so many fighters of her size now so I knew it would be a different feeling in the ring with her now. See how it goes, eh?
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My confidence was pretty good and Daeng was pretty straightforward in what he wanted me to do when he talked to me between rounds. The difference between my strength in the clinch only (as in, no skill but I clinched a lot even before I knew how, just because my strength alone could allow me to work in there) and my strength in clinch with skill and experience now – albeit with so much room still to grow – was significant. I just ground her down. It was informative to feel that in the fight and I think that, even though you can never use any single fight to establish who and what you are as a fighter, this one was illustrative of areas in which I’ve changed a lot. So, that was cool for me.
My Post Fight Video Update – How I Was Feeling