December 27, 2015 – Wat Hom Sin, Chonburi – full fight video above
Upon arriving at this temple, Kevin and I realized we’d been here before. Maybe 8 months prior I’d had a fight, technically with the O. Meekhun Gym, but they hadn’t ended up coming with me to the fight (despite not telling me this was going to be the case) and basically just lent me out to the promoter, who drove me, Kevin and Jai Dee in the bed of his truck. That wasn’t a great time. So, getting back to this same venue under different circumstances felt Serendipitous. Like I could “record over” that past experience with something new and better. Maybe something like redemption.
I didn’t have a corner with me this time, either. But that had been a decision arrived at in advance and I’m far more equipped to handle that kind of thing now than I was 8 months ago. A western woman I’d met about a year prior happened to be training at the gym that was promoting this show, so I’d had contact both through Pi Nu (who arranged the fight) and with Claudia to be able to confirm that the boys at her gym were able to corner for me. I don’t need much. I can wrap my own hands and just need someone to do the pre-fight massage, tape my gloves on and dump water on me in the corner. But I lucked out in that the guy from her gym who took care of me, a former Omnoi Stadium champion at 108 lbs (which is a competitive weight here, even though it sounds like kid-size by western standards), was amazing. His name is Yeung Daeng and his disposition was perfect. A little shy and doing his own thing most of the time, but totally competent and comfortable with the wraps, delegating the younger boys to do my oil massage, and then being a calm and confident energy in the corner. When you have an experienced fighter in your corner, things just become more stable.
Pi Nu had told me beforehand that this opponent was bigger than I am, at about 50 kg. I’d reckon she’s a little bigger than that, but what was a surprise (there’s always a surprise) was that Yeung Daeng told me about 30 minutes before the fight that she’s a boxer. Like, a western style boxer. It was unclear if she came from boxing, and now was fighting Muay Thai, or if she currently is a western boxer. Thai female boxers tend to be pretty serious about their art. I’m up for anything, but this kind of information does affect the way I prepare my mind for the fight. In this case, I expected her to throw a lot of punches – being a boxer, that makes sense, right? So, I’m visualizing keeping my guard up and going after her legs, using my long guard and a long jab to keep distance before closing in for the clinch.
I’m sitting there with my gloves on, sweating from shadowing around and now just relaxing before my fight and this little kid asks Claudia how many fights I have. She speaks Thai a little bit, but she’s only been learning in the month or so that she’s been training at the camp so she just tells him that I speak Thai. So he turns to me and asks and I tell him more than 100. His eyes get wide and he kind of chokes a little bit. He’s from her gym and now all the little kids are hovering around. Yeung Dang tapes on my gloves and gathers a few of the boys together to stand behind me for a picture. I don’t understand his composition right away, but when I turn around to see if they’re going to stand next to me or not I see that he’s positioned the boys facing backwards so that their gym shirts are flanking me in the middle. It was a cool shot, actually. Claudia is a photographer and writer, so she has this nice camera and a great eye for shots. Her collection of photos is the first time I’ve seen myself at a fight night without a lot of flash (Kevin), which blows me up (I look so swoll), or with filters (Tom Brown) to bump the contrast, which deepen all the lines to emphasize muscles that you can’t actually see when you’re just watching the fight, but that make me look like an action figure. It was great to see these photos without flash or filter where I looked how I probably actually look… which I never get to see, because I only see myself through lenses afterward. But I didn’t look huge or white, or made of sinews and goblin parts. The photos capture the kind of hot, dim, quiet before and after the fight. I love them, actually.
The Full Video of the Fight with My Audio Commentary
My opponent walked in front of me just before we headed over to the ring. She didn’t look big, which was a relief, although my perception of size is never right until I am actually standing toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring. When I finally was face to face I thought, “oh, no… she’s definitely bigger.” I felt good though. I felt like I was prepared mentally for anything and I’d been fighting and training hard, so I knew I was physically able to handle whatever she had. Immediately in round 1 she showed me that, despite being “a boxer,” her kicks are both comfortable to her and strong to me. I reckoned her footwork would be better than mine, from boxing, but because I’d already put in my head to go after her legs, I did so without thinking about it actually in the ring. I was really happy because I’d been working on this back-leg kick (so, my lead leg kicking her back leg) in padwork with Pi Nu. I’d been getting good at tagging him with it by tricking him – I feint the right cross and then take a deep step to tag that back leg. I actually bruised his thigh with it, which he says he hasn’t experienced in years. I don’t feel bad about that because he beats the hell out of my legs every day and he deserves what I can give back to him, BUT, I did feel obligated to try to bash my opponent in the same spot in order to kind of make it up to him. And it totally worked, exactly the way it does with Pi Nu. I feinted the right cross, stepped hard and tagged her back leg. She kind of bent with it, showing that it hurt, and I went after it again.
She did hit me with some good, powerful punches. A straight one-two right into my face. But she didn’t follow on it. Like, she knew how to throw hard for a single or double shot but then she hopped back to admire her work or breathe or whatever it is she does in training. So I could respond to the shots by closing that space up and once I started locking her in the clinch it was clear this wouldn’t last long. Between rounds one and two my corner didn’t say anything to me. Not one word. But this is kind of a thing, I’ve experienced it with “Small Man” and his family when they corner for me. (They’re part of Petchrungruang, but kind of peripheral to it also.) It’s because you’re still just working things out in those early rounds. If something is hurting you or you’re doing the same thing over and over that’s clearly not working for you, they might jump in and say something; but generally you just let the fight develop in those rounds and then you can strategize for round three. I went back out and locked her up, swooped over to the side of her and saw that her head was bent down in my lock, so I threw a couple little knees up into her face and when they made contact she just collapsed and decided that was it. She wasn’t badly hurt (I’m sure it sucks to be kneed in the face, regardless of whether it’s “kinda hard”) but I reckon she simply wasn’t prepared for it. You don’t get kneed in the head in boxing, and while she’s clearly fought Muay Thai enough to be skilled and comfortable in her fights, she was broken by that contact and didn’t want any more of it.
So, it was a quick fight. Kevin was playing that clinch-to-knee move over and over in his mind and just kept saying, “that was your best knee knock out, ever.” It felt smooth to me, but I was flowing in the fight and couldn’t really remember most of it. That’s typical of when you do well in competition – you just do and the fight only exists in snapshots in your memory. So I have a highlight reel of the things that were working, her strikes that woke me up a bit, and then I just adjusted to our body positions for that TKO and it didn’t seem particular to me. But that’s a sign of it being really good, I think – that it just felt like what I should do.
My corner was happy and I got lots of thumbs ups and handshakes from the crowd after the fight. I slipped out the front gate to take a quick shower and change into dry clothes. The guys who take tickets and stamp your hand for re-entry are the same guys who work in Pattaya sometimes. It’s truly amazing how far these guys travel for their work – the equipment guy goes everywhere and just the ticket guys at the front traveled 1.5 hours from Pattaya for this. I can’t imagine it pays that well. I’ll see referees and officials all over the place, too. Given how prevalent Muay Thai is all across Thailand, it’s amazing (and wonderful) how small it can feel by seeing the same circle of people in so many different places. Anyway, this guy at the front asked me what round that was for the TKO and shook my hand when I told him. Then he asked me when my next fight was, because we see each other so much he must notice that my schedule is pretty steady. It’s pretty cool to be able to say “see you soon,” to the doorman at the fights.