Full fight video: Part 1 up top, Part 2 just above.
Den waves me over to follow him and we walk to the other side of the stadium to a small room off the back of Thepprasit Stadium. It’s a half stair to step onto the tiled floor and there’s a doctor’s table in the back corner (where I’ve received stitches twice in the past) and the walls are all covered with white boards, which list the upcoming fights for the week. I wai to the promoter and smile at a few familiar faces before Den and Little Neung start putting my red gloves on.
Behind me a guy comes up and starts talking to Den about my shorts. I understand him so I just respond directly to him, saying I don’t have another pair. That’s a lie, I do have another pair in my bag but the problem is that my opponent’s shorts are yellow (not blue) so they want my purple shorts to be a more obvious red color to distinguish our corners. I refuse to change my shorts because, if I change them, it’s giving my opponent this very slight mental edge by getting to wear her stupid, yellow custom shorts. I wore the purple because they say Lanna on them, which is the camp that’s cornering for me and the camp I was at for 2 years. I want to represent. And purple is closer to red than yellow is to blue.
So the short issue isn’t pressed and the same guy tells Den to have me stand on the scale to “weigh in” before the fight starts. We’re the next fight and my 6 oz gloves are already taped on, so I stand on the scale with 12 oz on me. The needle tips just past 49 kg and Den laughs. In over 100 fights in Thailand I’ve never weighed in like this just before a fight – ever – and it seems silly. If the weight was unacceptable, what would happen? We’re already being announced. But Den laughed because my opponent weighted in at 54 kg; maybe it is meant as a guide to gamblers to know the actual weights right before they step in the ring? So here we go, 5 kg difference.
As I crawl under the ropes, make my wai‘s to the judges and ref and then stand in my corner I can hear my name and nationality being announced over the loud speakers. I give a wave and a large portion of the audience cheers, while one asshole farang directly behind me to the right boo’s. What a dick; I take note.
The fight starts and I’m trying to stay close and keep pressure on Nang Hong. She launches a bunch of kicks and none of them hurt, although a few of them land to score. Throughout the first couple rounds I feel like I’m blocking kicks pretty well, but in the corner Den tells me in slightly different words to block in a way that looks better. So I guess I’m kinda shrimping and when I see the photos later I was cross-blocking way more than I thought I was. But I’m using my left hook as I close in and I land it a few times; one time results in a great photo where Nang Hong and I both look hideous but is a dynamic image nonetheless.
In the fight I was a bit frustrated by not feeling like I was staying in as much as I’d wanted to. I felt like I was “on the porch” more than I actually was when watching it, but it means I could be closer, especially because Nang Hong doesn’t hurt. She did throw quite a few inside elbows as I closed for the clinch but she was inaccurate with them and my guard is good, so no worries there.
I’d put her down on the canvas early in the fight and she was already gassing by the third round, so my clinch became both easier and more effective. I won round 4 by a lot, she was on the ground a few times, so going into round 5 Den just told me to try stuff. In my last two fights I’ve noted that mentally slowing down and picking my shots or movements, especially when my opponent is tired, is good for me, but it’s difficult to do. So I came out trying to “slow down” mentally. This resulted in me following a lot without actually striking because there was some disconnect between the thought “slow down” and the action of “be decisive.” So the fifth was a bit sketchy for me. I felt like the way I was performing I could actually lose the fight in the fifth – it could be stolen. In Thai scoring if you have a dominant 4th you have to be careful if you continue to fight forward in the 5th, even a neutrally scored 5th can spell doom if it looks like you’ve lost your edge. Near the end of the round though I got Nang Hong into the ropes and killed her with knees, which the ref let go on and afterward Nang Hong’s mother was screaming (full on shouting and screaming) about this. I thought they’d lost money with how pissed she was but Den said she was just angry that the ref didn’t pry me off at that point – not sure if it’s because they’d already lost, or it was embarrassing, or maybe they did lose money also. But she was really upset (you can see her corner yelling at the end of the video, but it continued on for some time).
I felt good about the win. It was against one of the better 51-53 kg fighters in the North who regularly participates in tournaments up there at that weight. I felt I could have done better but I always feel that way, and had no injuries so that was great. I also got a photo of me kicking Nang Hong, which is like the Snow Leopard in terms of how rare it is to get a photo of me kicking!
After the fight I got to hang out and take pictures with probably the biggest group of supporters I’ve ever had. Not only did dudes from the audience come up and give me a bunch of thumbs up and “great fight,” compliments, but one guy apologized for betting against me and said he didn’t have a choice (the bookie had already bet on me so he could only take the opposing bet) and then gave me 500 Baht to pay for my “drinks” after the fight. I kept the 500 Baht as a memento and good luck charm; it was a very sweet gesture.
And I did get some photos with folks who read my blog and ended up in Chiang Mai (and even decided to fight) in part because of my blogging, which is amazing.
This is Walter and Amelia from New Zealand, who said they read my blog. They’d been training in Chiang Mai and Walter had a fight, and they were leaving Thailand back to New Zealand the very next day. Great timing to get to meet them before they left!
And this is Matt, who was to have his first fight at this same stadium just a few days after he came to watch me (he also follows my page and has been training at Team Quest). I sent him a message to wish him luck, a little late, on the day he fought and turns out he won by elbow KO! How cool is that?!
And fellow female fighters Melissa Reaume and Frankie Smith (and her mom) were there to support me as well, which felt amazing. I can’t really put into words how great it feels to roll back into Chiang Mai and have the opportunity to meet these very cool people who are there in part because of my website, blog, youtube, facebook… whatever. It means a great deal to me. I was in Chiang Mai for two years, fought over 60 times in the city, so maybe another year from now I’ll be seeing more people like this in Pattaya. Excellent.