February 6, 2015 – Galare Stadium in Chiang Mai (full fight video above)
Chiang Mai is a roughly 10 hour drive north from Pattaya. We’d arranged to have two fights over the weekend to justify such a long trip. Baifern was the first opponent I would have on the 5 day trip. She happens to be the last opponent I faced in Chiang Mai before moving to Pattaya, so we fought about 9 months ago. I lost that fight due to an unfortunate doctor stoppage so I was happy to have the chance to rematch.
Being back in Chiang Mai was strange. It was really great to see people, especially Pook and Eh, who came to support me at the fight. Daeng had arranged the fights with the promoter and so he acted as my corner, separate from the gym – although I did fight under the Lanna name again. Being so familiar with the spaces of Chiang Mai, knowing my way around and saying hello to so many people on the street we lived on (my pharmacist, the fried chicken couple) and the guy who takes tickets at the gate of the venue, etc. – it felt nice to have familiarity but I didn’t feel like I was returning “home,” so to speak. I feel that Pattaya is my home now.
My fight came up quickly once we got to the venue, as I was the second bout on the card. Daeng and Tor wrapped my hands and I got a haphazard oil massage from two or three folks from the gym. I’m so used to this kind of rush now it didn’t even bother me. I smiled at Daeng and told him, “no problem,” when I saw him looking a bit perturbed by the whole time crunch. Even though I felt really relaxed about the (utterly normal) chaos of hurrying into the fight, I ended up going in a bit sluggish. Maybe it was even in response to the hurry, like I was trying to keep calm and got a little too calm.
Baifern is a backwards fighter. She’s great in the clinch, she’s really tall so she gets a good lock and then just throws straight knees. She’s not strong, she’s not aggressive, and she’s not an endurance fighter. So, all those things let me know that I just had to climb in the fight, getting stronger and wearing her out with each round. Despite my slow start and maybe mirroring her energy a bit, I was able to start pushing on her and round 4 was the real war between us. She got me in the corner and fed me a buffet of knees early in the round and the fight was hers at that point. However, I was able to drop her and give her an 8 count later in the round; she was saved by the bell a bit in that round and by round 5 the fight was in my favor so I just had to go hard for a minute and then defend the lead. I saw Daeng signaling for me to just ride it out and so I kind of danced off a bit. I hate doing that but sometimes if you keep going hard when you’ve already won you can shoot yourself in the foot and appear overly-aggressive.
Not my best performance, definitely not my worst. I felt caught by her height in the clinch, like her lock on my collarbone was such that I couldn’t get around it, but I don’t really remember using the skills that I use in training in order to try to defeat it – so it’s possible I just didn’t try that stuff. Oohhhhh, how many years and fights it takes to bring what you know into a fight with you!
When I did finally work my arms to the inside in the clinch is when I landed the knees that dropped her. So that’s a good reminder there to work for the important positions faster – I don’t have to remember everything, just remember to do the really significant things. I felt a bit bummed about my performance after the fight but it was a good experience and a good lead-in to my next fight, which would be against a world title holder, two weight classes above me.