November 8, 2015 – Chon Buri, Buffalo Racing Festival – full fight video above
We had to park at the very end of this long road that was all lined with cars already and dead-ended into the fluorescent pin-wheel lights of the festival. As we walked past all the food stalls that walled the sides of the road, there was a staring and gawking at the only westerners (me and Kevin) that I’ve become quite accustomed to. Coincidentally, we ended up walking right behind my opponent and her friends, one of whom I’ve fought four times and will fight again about a week from this fight. She turned and shook my hand upon seeing me – this real wimpy, loose and limp handshake; that’s not her fault, she never learned how to shake hands but she knows this is how falang say hello – something that’s pretty uncommon. The rate at which westerners misunderstand and botch the Thai wai is far greater than the misunderstanding and misuse of the handshake by Thais, though.
This festival is an annual event where they race buffalo in a track of mud and, apparently, have some buffalo fights as well. We’ve never seen that, even though I fought at this event last year as well. They do the races in the day and the fights and inflatable bouncy castle, and stage show (live singing and dancing) is all at night. So that’s the only part we’ve seen. Last year I won my first Thai belt and this year, literally moments before entering the ring, I heard the announcer state that this fight was for a belt as well – ching champ, is the phase. Alright then.
Both my cornerman and I were scheduled to fight the following night, up in Udon. That’s an 8-10 hour drive north and if I got cut in this fight I wouldn’t be able to compete the next night, so my main focus was pretty much, “don’t get cut.” I’d been nursing a cut that has been slow to heal, and made it all the way through my first fight with this opponent almost 3 weeks ago, but then opened it up again in the last 40 seconds or so of the fight, by rubbing the swollen bulb of it against her head by accident in the clinch. I wanted to not do that this time, since I’d gone through the whole process of restitching the cut and letting it heal as best I could for the past three weeks. I’d even fought in the interim and not had it reopen, so I felt confident, but still aware that if I wanted to fight the next night I had to be careful, especially at the end of the fight.
I love festival fights. We had a nice little spot away from the speakers but where we could still see the ring, on a side-street and behind a parked car for a modicum of privacy. There were still a few folks from the audience who came over and wanted pictures with me. I was the only westerner on the card. The promoter was from Pattaya – a stadium I haven’t fought at for a very long time now – but that meant a lot of the people in the audience and some of the officials were from Pattaya, too. So they recognized me and Mod Ek who would complain later on that he didn’t make any money through gambling odds because some in the crowd knew me. As I walked to the ring there was still a lot of muttering and oooiii sounds about my tattoos and muscles or whatever it is that freaks these guys out so much. Sometimes that gets in my head and I hate it, but sometimes I get pumped by it. Tonight, I got pumped by it.
The ring was very wet and slick. Usually there are these metal trays they put under the stools in the corner when you have a break to catch at the water they dump on you, but nobody had brought them and there were just pools of water everywhere. That’s always an added difficulty to fights, but thankfully the decal at the center of the ring (of Boran fighters, which was cool) wasn’t waterproof, so that part wasn’t too slippery.
The Full Fight Video With Audio Commentary
I’m going to try something different with this fight post and include a video version of the fight with my audio commentary. So at the top of this post is the pure video, and here below is my commentary version. This experiment is growing out the very positive reader response that came from my Kru Dam audio commentary and then my 20 minute clinch video commentary, with Kate. I just thought it might be interesting to watch the fight along with me. It’s the first time I’ve seen the video since I fought Rungnapa two weeks ago. It’s not really a play by play, or overly technical. Just trying to set the context a bit, and maybe help readers who follow me closely see what I’m trying to do.
above, full fight video with audio commentary
Send me a message if you like the audio commentary, it is something we can do again.
After the Fight
I climbed out of the ring and Mod Ek immediately started telling me the cut was small, that I could fight the next night. Part of me was distrustful, because there’d been a big ordeal about who was going to corner for me in this fight due to the fight in Udon the next night – I’d refused to let Mod Ek do it because if I got cut and was his ride, then he had no way to get to Udon which was 8-10 hours away, and I didn’t want to be the reason for his not being able to go. Due to scheduling and timing issues, he was the only one who could corner for me this night and we were his only way to Udon, other than him taking a bus in the morning. I knew he didn’t want to do that, so telling me, “no problem, you can fight,” wasn’t without the complication of being in his interest. All that said, I wanted to fight the next night. I felt good. It was the exact same cut as I’d had for two months now and had already reopened once and stayed closed once for a fight. The doctor who was at the ring was very young – she was probably a student or a brand-new nurse. She could absolutely handle doing sutures, but because the cut was “old,” she was afraid to stitch it and wanted me to go to a hospital. Really what scared her, I think, was that the inside of the cut was incredibly dark. It was just semi-congealed blood from having healed somewhat before, but it looked totally weird. Like a mouth or something. I’m not going to say that I distrust Mod Ek, I do trust him. But in Thailand you sometimes have to consider multiple angles and motivations because things are always already alien to some degree. In this case it was somewhere between Mod Ek being complete aggravated by a ring doctor who seemed to be very inexperienced with ring injuries, and probably after just seeing me win, being very excited to be driving to Udon, not having to take a bus, but also to win some more money with his fighter. One of the things I love about Mod Ek is how much a pure fighter spirit he is, and how much he embraces my fight-anywhere-anytime ethic. He cornered me the first time on the Queen’s Birthday, he’s been to Laos with me for a tournament. He guy has my back.
So Mod Ek assured me that because the cut was already old it wouldn’t bleed a lot if it reopened the next night. He was adamant I could fight. I cut a deal with him. I said that I’d go to the gym the next morning and have Pi Nu look at it. If he said I could fight, then we’d depart from the gym to Udon. If he said I couldn’t fight, I’d drive Mod Ek to the bus station. He agreed. Mainly I wanted to ask Pi Nu for two reasons: 1) he had no personal interest in having me fight the next night if it was a bad idea, but he also knows me well by now, how much I love fighting, so he wouldn’t tell me “no” to just to be conservative; and 2) it’s the right thing to do to defer to the head of the camp and my trainer, especially since I would be fighting in Pattaya again in a week and this second fight might jeopardize that.
We were about an hour outside of Pattaya. I drove home and cleaned the cut, showered, then used tape to close the two sides and put a little super-glue on it to hold it shut. In the morning I went to see Pi Nu, who was in the doorway, preparing to shave the head of his infant son Nat. With the clippers in his hand he inspected my cut and told me he thought I could fight, not a problem. “Maybe open, maybe not,” he said, which was pretty much how I felt about it. I told him it had opened again in the last minute of the fight, a head-clash. He told me to clash heads on the other side, because he’s hilarious. And with that, I was off to have another fight in a part of Thailand I’d never been to before. Such adventures!
Post Fight Video Update