July 5, 2015 – Loi Khor Stadium, Chiang Mai – video part 1 above, part 2 below
This was meant to be the first fight of 3 up in Chiang Mai over a period of five days. I’d fought two days prior in Hua Hin and had broken my hand in that fight, but I’d spent countless hours working on keeping range of motion and flexibility in the wrist on the 10 hour drive up so it actually felt okay and the swelling was down. I couldn’t really use it – like, I couldn’t turn a doorknob or open a twist-top bottle with that hand – but I could cram it in a glove since the swelling was down.
My schedule had me fighting Nong Ying twice in a row, a few days apart and at two different stadia, then fighting Nong Benz, who I was keen to meet in the ring. Because it is so expensive to drive up to Chiang Mai I really try to overbook my fights. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that chance because I got cut again in this fight so the next two were cancelled, much to my disappointment. It wasn’t a good fight for me. I’d faced Nong Ying twice before and TKO knocked her out both times. But she’s much bigger than I am (54 kg, so about 13 lbs heavier), very aggressive and hits hard. To be completely honest, I was afraid of her. I was afraid of her the first two times I fought her also – the first time because I’d heard she knocked out Sylvie Charbonneau, the second time because I’d felt her power in the first fight and didn’t like it. She pretty much creamed me for the first rounds of those fights before I was able to land knees to knock her out and in the second fight she headkicked me early in the first round and almost knocked me out. It’s the only time I’ve ever gone down, from a strike, in over 100 fights.
So, mentally I was stressed about this fight, and not in a good place. I tried to convince myself I was confident, but I wasn’t. The broken hand didn’t help things and I asked Den to wrap that side really well, which he did. We even had to borrow wraps from a young woman who fought before me, still sweaty from her fight and then she had to wait until after my fight to get them back. I kind of love that – borrowing equipment from other fighters.
My plan was to stay close to Nong Ying, hoping the pressure would gas her out faster. I did stay in, kind of, but not close enough to accomplish what I meant to with that tactic and not with enough offense – so I basically just took a lot of hits being kind of close. When I did get in and lock her in the clinch I couldn’t get myself to knee. She was so heavy and hard to move. I did wear her down as the rounds went on and probably could have finished her in round 4 if I’d really hit the gas, but I was out of it. I thought I was already done. Mentally I’d already lost the fight.
In the third round she puts me on the canvas and then gets a warning from the ref for hooking my leg, which is a fowl. I was actually impressed he called it as it’s something that can easily not be seen. You don’t lose a point or anything, it’s just a finger wag. It’s an infuriating fight for me to watch because I’m at the exact wrong distance the whole time, but you see her collapse after the last bell. I didn’t see that when I was in the ring, but clearly she was spent. I could have and absolutely should have pushed harder.
Somewhere in the fourth round I got an elbow that swelled up a knot over my eye and in the last 60 seconds of the 5th round a second little elbow split that bulb open. I ended up getting seven more stitches near my existing cut but the old one didn’t re-open, which was good, I’ve got 68 total now. The doctor took me over to a bar where one of the cocktail waitress held a lamp tipped to the side like a spotlight for the doctor to work. He was awesome. He didn’t shave my eyebrow off and just stitched the thing back together, which I really appreciate. I look weird enough already without a half-shaved eyebrow. He was working so hard on the stitches he was dripping with sweat and all the men gathered around to watch started teasing him. It was actually really funny.
Afterward I thanked the referee for not stopping the fight and letting me finish. He shook my hand in response and said, in Thai, that he knows Sylvie can fight and that he didn’t need to stop it. I didn’t recognize him but maybe he’d been my referee before. It was a nice compliment and vote of confidence in any case. Nong Ying came up to apologize for the cut – I actually quite like her, even though she’s scary and a bitch in the ring – and didn’t believe me when I said my weight. She squeezed my arms and her girlfriend/corner did so, too. Guess I left an impression on her. She had a ton of fights lined up both before and after me, so she was probably happy not to be fighting me in a few days.
I was bummed to have to cancel the next two fights. We stayed in Chiang Mai for a few days to see if I could take the stitches out and fight on the last day anyway, but the black eye that resulted from that knot above the eyebrow draining into my eye socket was enough by itself, let alone the stitches surely not being ready. That sucked.
On the way home to Pattaya we stopped at a routine traffic stop and the police just peek inside your car, sometimes ask where you’re going. Kevin was driving and Jai Dee was on my lap. When the cops saw my black eye they did a double take – looked at Kevin, looked at me and the one cop pointed to his own eye, not knowing how to communicate. I spoke Thai with a big grin, telling him I’m a fighter and just had a bout in Chiang Mai. Both the police officer’s faces erupted into wide smiles and they kind of cheered for me being a fighter. Cops and military love fighters. But I swear, when they first saw it I was sure they might drag Kevin out of the driver’s seat and give him a beat down if I indicated he’d done it. For all the blah-blah-blah you hear about Thai cops and corruption, a lot of it is true but they’re also the center of a lot of my favorite personal interactions in Thailand. And these dudes totally had my back and gave Kevin a thumbs up when they heard about the fighting.