I was excited to see this fight live, as this was the third time these two had faced off in the last 7 months. Namdtan is widely regarded as one of the best female fighters in Thailand, and Janice had won the fight before this. This would be for a WPMF title belt on the Wai Nai Khanomtom festival in Ayutthaya.
I’m not precisely sure which belt Namdtan and Janice were fighting for because the WPMF website holds Kate Houston of Australia as the 126 lb champion and I thought that was the title being fought for in this bout (that was the weight they fought at). In any case it is either that title, or an Interim title for that belt, or a weight close that.
There were two title fights on this show, both Canadian women training at Kaewsamrit, and it was televised, so in order to be efficient with time these four women (Janice and Namdtan, Ashley Nichols and Kwanjai Sor. Tawanrung watch that fight here) all did their Ram Muay at the same time at the start of the program. (Interestingly, Ashley will be facing Namdtan for a different belt on April 13th.) Janice and Namdtan’s fight was first and the crowd was packed. I had to stand outside this little fence, behind a line of other spectators but not too far from Namdtan’s corner. I was not quite surprised, but maybe impressed, to see two more very high-profile female fighters working in Namdtan’s corner for this fight: Peach Paruhong and Sawsing Sor. Sophit. It was cool to see this; like if Miesha Tate had Gina Carano and Tecia Torres working as her corner, or something.
This fight started at about 3 PM, so midday heat was still pretty intense but it was at least thinking about tapering off at that point. But neither fighter looked concerned with it at all. Because my view wasn’t ideal, I often turned a little bit behind me to see the big screen that projected the fight live at the back of the tent, behind the VIP section. The experience of watching their bodies at a distance in the ring, moving in so much space and then turning to see a close-up of their upper-bodies as they clinched on the big screen made it feel like the visual version of “surround sound.” And Namdtan’s clinch stuffing was frustrating, perhaps on a personal level for me as I’ve fought against two fighters from her gym, Por. Muangphet many times and they’re good at neutralizing. It makes you feel like they didn’t do anything and yet they’re winning. That’s kind of what Janice was up against in this fight. Both women came with a game plan and both executed them well, but Namdtan’s plan was just a little better this time around.
I felt for Janice. She didn’t do anything “wrong,” and I’ve lost fights against this gym in exactly the same way. You just get stuck. But it was entertaining for the audience and it looked great on the big screen, so everyone watching at home got to see a good fight as well. Kaewsamrit had a lot of fighters on that card, so Janice’s corner took her gloves off and got ready to corner the next fighter. Janice took a little time for herself, changed out of her wet fight clothes and then joined her team to cheer the other fighters. A true teammate.
A got to meet Janice at Kaewsamrit gym in Bangkok a few weeks ago, and it was a real pleasure. I’ll be posting the video interview I did with her the day before this fight, soon!