The 80 Percent Fight – A Hidden Story Behind Western and Thai Match Ups

Any westerner fighting in Thailand has an interest in portraying their Thai opponents as being the best and fighting at the top of their capabilities.  And, to be fair,...

Any westerner fighting in Thailand has an interest in portraying their Thai opponents as being the best and fighting at the top of their capabilities.  And, to be fair, we assume and hope that this is true in our own minds.  We come here to train hard and fight hard, and from our understanding of fighting in the west we assume quite fairly that our opponents are doing the same.  But in Thailand, things are very often not what they seem; perhaps especially when gazing with western expectations.

My experience of fighting in Thailand started over 5 years ago now when I first visited, and the last 3 years I’ve been consistently living, training and fighting.  By the time I reach my 3 year anniversary in April, I will likely have fought 100 times in that period.  So, I’ll be bold enough to say that I have had a range of experience on the subject I’m about to dive into.  That said, I’m also just starting to understand the deeper levels of fighting in Thailand and its many facets; over the years my understanding has been forced to adapt and deepen, it has gone through phases, as I sink deeper into the layers of culture, business and politics that go into the Thai fight game.  It’s not only that I didn’t see it before as I do now, even after my 50th fight, but also there was a degree to which I wasn’t part of the aspects I’m discovering now.  I’ve literally entered into other levels of what it is to fight in Thailand, and part of why I write this is because it is something I would have loved to have read when I first started fighting here. Let me also say that these thoughts are based very heavily on my experiences, and as varied as my experiences have been, they are still limited by my own scope and parameters, and they may differ from what others have experienced or will experience.

In my first two solid years of fighting up in Chiang Mai I had been fighting frequently and mostly locally.  There are multiple stadia in the city of Chiang Mai and they hold fights every night of the week.  Aside from personal politics which govern which of the promoters my trainers booking fights will and will not work with (almost always having to do with money), I could get a fight pretty much at any of these rings, any time I wanted and at short notice. It opened a wide door to fighting that was incredibly different than anything you can experience in the West. I fought many different opponents and rematched a handful of them multiple times, fight after fight, about 3 times a month.  In one case, I fought the same opponent 12 times over those two years.  We forced each other to grow and adapt with every rematch and at one point I’d beaten her a few times in a row and then suddenly she was much better.  I figured she’d changed gyms or started training better and that was the reason.  It was, at that time, the only explanation that came to mind; my understanding now is that perhaps some money was riding on that fight and I wasn’t even aware of it.  As a westerner who just goes to the fight and gets in the ring with whomever they’ve put across from me, I had no knowledge of, or interest in, the processes which go along with booking fights, including and perhaps primarily the discussion of gambling and money.  Sometimes my trainers would let me know they were going to bet on me and I hated it; mentally, I just didn’t want the pressure of my trainers’ finances on my shoulders.  Let me say now, my willful ignorance meant that I was missing a huge part of how fighting works in Thailand.

When I left Chiang Mai and moved to Pattaya, I unexpectedly found myself having a very hard time booking fights. I was a mainstay of Chiang Mai promoters. They – and my trainers – loved that I fought all the time and was willing to take on Thais bigger than I am (I’m sure it added to the spectacle). We tend to assume that our experiences in one part of a country are indicative of how things are in the rest of a country. We assume we know “Thailand” just from the corner of our few experiences of a gym or maybe a few gyms.  While Chiang Mai had been a feast of fighting, Pattaya was not. There were a number of factors that went into a sudden dearth of fight opportunities for me once I moved, and no small part was the complications that came from the gym politics from training at two gyms at once, as I elected to do.  At the time it was also the low season for tourism and there was a military coup and even a curfew on. This, combined with the fewer number of stadia in Pattaya (compared to Chiang Mai) and therefore fewer fight nights with fewer tickets being sold to tourists meant far fewer fights. But I’ve come to realize that the change in opportunities was much more than this. I had stepped out of tourism Muay Thai, and inadvertently toward a somewhat more “Thai” world of  Muay Thai. I thought I was going from one tourist center to another. I wasn’t. Pattaya was different from Chiang Mai.  The first sign of this was that as I pressed for fights to be booked I experienced a radical change from my trainers and the promoters in Chiang Mai gleefully putting me in the ring against fighters with advantages against me, to my trainer in Pattaya being overly-careful about my opponents’ size.  I thought, because of my previous experience in Chiang Mai, that this was my trainer being over-protective.  As my understanding of fighting in Thailand has grown, I’ve come to realize that his concern was not only to do with protecting me but also largely to do with protecting the bet that would go along with my fight – and, something that for a traditional family gym like Petchrungruang is inseparable from the bet, the gym’s “name”, and its reputation.  (Petchrungruang does have westerners fighting out of the gym, but it is not primarily a gym for westerners the way that my gym in Chiang Mai was/is.  The name and reputation and focus of Petchrungruang is based on raising young Thai boys to be Lumpinee and Rajadamnern fighters.)  It’s not of prime importance to me that I win every fight – I try to win and I aim to win, but I want to fight people better than I am, often bigger than me, and sometimes that results in losses – but the win is important to Kru Nu because, unknown to me, a significant side bet is being placed on the fight and if I lose, that money is lost as well.  The amounts being gambled on my fights at the beginning were relatively small, but as I get better the side bet increases. The adventure of fight match-making for me involved convincing Petchrungruang to find me tough opponents, but also opponents that they thought I could beat. It also involved finding opponents who thought they could beat me, and thus bet against me. There is a natural tension in interests. Because Kru Nu was cautious – he by nature is extremely cautious with all his fighters and his bets (it’s actually often his uncle’s money, which he represents) – and was only discovering the kind of fighter I am (a Muay Khao endurance fighter) this resulted in very few opportunities for some time. For those who follow me closely know, I found my way around this problem, which at the time I simply did not understand, by taking the highly unorthodox approach of finding other gyms (O. Meekhun, and then Giatbundit as well) who would bet on me in contexts very different from those Kru Nu was used to. As mentioned, Kru Nu specializes in raising boys for Lumpinee and Rajadamnern careers. Falang fights, and female fighters are not things he has much investment in.

As result of reaching out to other gyms and promoters for a number of months I ended up fighting up in Isaan with the Giatbundit Gym in Buriram.  I got to learn about and experience match-ups, which from the periphery seem to be about filling cards with local fighters in a cattle-call fashion; but the process illuminates a great deal about what “fair” fights mean in Thailand.  In Chiang Mai, Phuket (I assume), and in some stadia in Pattaya, the Muay Thai fights are largely dependent upon and guided by tourist dollars.  Westerners are put on the cards to fill seats as the promotion money comes from ticket sales. In this ticket-sales context, due to a frequent disparity between a bigger western, but much less experienced fighter, a fair fight is attempted by matching a Thai with the experience advantage against a westerner with a size advantage.  There are no weigh ins for these fights.  But in the Isaan countryside where thousands of fights occur every year the scale is usually very important.  If money is going down on a fight, in a side bet, there has to be a weigh in – if there’s no money at stake, nobody cares about the size disparities and it’s only considered by gamblers watching the fight and betting the odds. If there is no money, in a sense, the fight does not matter.  In the tourist fight areas, the money is coming from selling tickets so the scale doesn’t matter and side bets or gambling is often removed from the fighters themselves.

It was through my experience of the Isaan match-up process, coupled with struggling to find fights of good quality as I sought them out for myself, that I began to learn how important money is in Muay Thai.  It’s easy as a westerner to have the “I don’t do it for the money” attitude, our middle class praise of amateurism for instance lauds the financially disinterested athlete as “pure”, and as fighters we can kind of keep any gambling or discussion of fight purses out of mind; you can do that because you’re not necessarily involved in the discussion anyway.  But stepping out of the tourist stadium scene even a little means the discussion of money becomes central to fighting.  I’ve recently begun tentatively offering up my own money in side bets in order to “guarantee” fights.  What does that mean?

As western fighters we’re aware of the high fight numbers in the careers of Thai fighters.  Men like Saenchai, Buakaw, Sudsakorn, Yodsaenklai, et al have records that are staggering, fights exceeding 200 and 300.  At those numbers, fights simply cannot be what many in the west think of, where there is a “fight camp” and a weight cut leading up to it.  In the vast majority of those fights, you just show up and fight – you are always in training, and you are always ready to fight, from a young age.  Of course this goes for not only the internationally recognized men of Thailand, but also the enumerable Thai fighters of varying skill levels and ages across the country. From a western perspective it is a relief to glide into the Thai attitude about the majority of fights, which is that “win or lose, no problem.”  By and large fighters’ records are not asked for or offered because in most cases it’s not very important in Thailand. But there can be important fights, usually defined by how much money is on the side bet or if reputation is at stake (a significant title, for example), and for those fights win or lose does matter; a lot. Fights where no money is being bet are largely valued by the Thai fighter in a way very different than a westerner would expect.

This is where the big disparity comes in between western fighters and their Thai opponents.  There are those of us who save up all our pennies in order to fly out to Thailand for a stretch, to live, train and fight “like a Thai.”  It’s a big, life-defining experience.  For many of these earnest westerners there can be a few weeks or months of training that culminate in a single fight at the end of it, this big event that’s had a lead up and been anticipated, fretted over, etc.  But for the Thai opponent that this guy (usually, but women do this too) faces in the ring, it might just be “a Tuesday”, and nothing more.  For the western fighter, this is the climax of their experience and fighting “a Thai,” the best in the world, means a great deal.  And it should because it does mean a lot and a lot has gone into it.  But while a westerner may have only 1-20 fights in his/her entire career, and so every one of those fights is massively important and the motivation to fight hard and win is paramount for each of them, a Thai may have hundreds of fights and so each one might feel more like a scrimmage, or a way to make money or stay “tuned up” between fights that are financially or reputation-wise more important than fighting some dude from Canada who will be flying home next week.  And it doesn’t have to be a short-term fighter; I’ve lived here for years and fought the same opponents several times and I know I’ve had these fights.  The result is the 80% fight.

This is a hard thing to talk about because I fear it’s going to piss people off.  But I’m also talking about myself – I’ve experienced this, plenty, I suspect – and it’s not filling me with joy to have accomplished the feat of fighting 100 times and then kind of cast a shadow over a piece of that accomplishment.  So let me explain first a couple of things: 1) nobody is doing anything wrong; 2) how hard you train and fight as a westerner is your own damn business and it’s not your responsibility to moderate your opponents’ drives; but 3) you can take some control over the quality of fights you get yourself into by understanding some things about motives for fighting in Thailand.

The 80% Fight – What is it?

The 80% fight goes like this: if there’s no money (or only a little money) at stake on a fight and there’s no important title or reputation on the line, the motivation for a Thai fighter might be pretty minimal.  In fact, when I fought in Isaan there were a few times that the lack of a side bet meant the fight would only be 3 rounds long, making it a quicker space-filler between the more important fights with money on them.  In these fights with little or no money on the line, the fighter wants to win and will try to win, but when the fight heads in a direction that will require great effort or risk to secure the victory, coasting might be the preferred option.  This is not the notorious “Tuk Tuk driver” fight you see discussed on English-language forums. These are good, experienced fighters I’m talking about in a real fight whose outcome is not predetermined. Thai vs. Thai fights see this 80% fight as well, putting on a show for the audience but no grand effort to achieve a coming-from-behind win or going to the last bell to eek out a victory.  A win is worth feeling good about and a loss is worth nothing.  If there’s money on the line, those same fighters will go hard to the end, or have fought the middle rounds differently.  Against a westerner there can be an added exception in that nationalistic pride is involved in rare cases, where the Thai will fight extremely hard without monetary incentive or a title on the line simply because it’s a reputation moment – I’ve been in a few of these fights, but they occur on holidays before a Thai audience where it’s clear that the audience and everyone other than the gamblers with money on me want the Thai to win for national pride.  And on the other side of the coin is something somewhat sordid, which is that gyms will either ask or pay a small sum of money to a Thai fighter to take a fall in a fight against a westerner.  They do this so the westerner feels good, will keep training at the gym or send business their way.

I also suspect that in thrown scenarios, but also in the average 80% fight against a westerner, in the psychology of the Thai fighter there is a built in buffer for the ego; knowing that they didn’t go 100% and yet this stupid falang is bouncing around all giddy from the win is something of an inside joke for the Thai opponent. The losing Thai is comfortable with the deception. This is not to say that in some of these cases the westerner would not have won anyway – but I suspect that the 80% fight allows the Thai fighter to feel that he or she would have won, but instead just took the payday and fooled the falang in the process, or maybe dramatizes the loss with a lay-down KO that’s more accurately just giving up. In a variation on this I have heard of one anecdotal case in which the Thai fighter was asked by the opponent’s gym to lose, they knew the fighter. By the Thai’s account they kept the fight very close, planning to let it slip away by points at fight’s end, but when the western fighter threw elbows the Thai fighter became incensed and fought back hard, ultimately winning the fight.  From my own experience, one woman I fought tried to set up a hustle to lose the fight because she’d bet against herself.  I was horrified when my trainer told me about this, basically letting me know before the fight that I should play like I was losing early on to get the gamblers to bet on me and therefore my opponent’s bet would bring greater winnings when the tables turned.  I firmly refused and fought hard from the start but lost the fight anyway and the whole gambling hustle was a bust for everyone (I assume… or was it?).  I let my trainer know he could bet against me if he wanted, but not to ever ask me to go along with a fixed fight. I describe these differences of motivations and awareness because in Thailand there is a general way in which the western fighter lives in one world, the world of tourist fighter, and the Thai fighter lives in another world, the world of placed bets and pay checks. They very seldom are in the same world together.

For those fighters concerned about this there is a way to guarantee a good fight, or at least a way to guarantee that your opponent will be trying to beat you to the limit of their skills and will come to the fight with their best.  I might be fighting a very good fighter, a champion, but while that’s important to me it might not mean anything to her to be fighting some falang.  The way to make it matter to your opponent is to put money on the table and as a result the gym will make that champion train for the fight and come to win.  So lately, as adverse to gambling as I am, I’ve offered side bets as a) a way to get the fighter I want to even show up (I’ve been stood up!) and b) to get the champion closer to her best.  In some ways this is buying a fight, but ironically it’s paying for the opponents’ motivation rather than purchasing a victory, as one might assume from how buying fights works in the west.  Mind bending, eh?  But I’m coming to see it as the ante up; I’m not buying a win, I’m buying “into” a fight. In a side bet each camp puts an equal amount of money on the side of the ring, with the officials, and at the end of the fight the winner collects the whole sum. This is the basic equalizing act of fair match ups in Thailand, and it lets attendant gamblers know that the match is equally invested.  If you place a side bet and then pull out of the fight or don’t make weight, you have to “eat” the money you put up in a forfeit.

The 80% fight doesn’t only happen at tourist stadia in Phuket or Chiang Mai.  It’s prevalent there because most of the money isn’t being exchanged through gambling, it’s being made primarily through selling tickets and filling seats.  And also happens all the way up to Lumpinee and Rajadamnern.  The reputation of fighting at these top stadia, as westerners, has a somewhat outdated sheen of being hard-earned.  Westerners haven’t always been permitted to fight in those rings and we all look up to the western men who have contended for or even won titles from these prestigious ranks.  But the esteem of fighting at these stadia isn’t all that it seems.  There are now westerners invited to fight at both stadia who have little or no experience – in some cases westerners fighting their first fight ever in these rings (I know of one case personally, and have heard of others) – and it’s entirely done as a way to sell tickets.  Promoters will call gyms and ask for falang to fight on the weekend, on the early show (this is non-televised and before many of the gamblers arrive for the “main” shows on those days; the young kids who are cutting their teeth at the stadium fight at this time, too, for a mostly empty stadium) with the intention of other westerners from that gym buying tickets to come support their teammate or countrymen buying tickets to come watch a fellow westerner in the ring. Muay Thai authority Rob Cox talked about this trend a few years ago in an interview, something that has only become more prevalent since (video below). And at least one gym owner privately told me a situation even worse than the 80% fight, low-level Chiang Mai fighters being flown down to fight, and lose to, falang at Lumpinee. It is hard to know fully what the motivations are of these fighters.

an excerpt from the excellent Damien Trainer interview of Rob Cox – you can see the full interview here

But I want to keep my attention away from the stories of the thrown fight, and on 80% fight because these fights make up a significant portion of the legitimate fights in Thailand.  And I do stress that the 80% fight is absolutely a real fight.  It’s the inside story behind of lot of what is happening as Thais face foreigners, and has helped shape the western opinion of just how good Thai fighters really are. Beyond the shadow of the Tuk Tuk driver – and apparently even informed by such out-dated sources as Master Toddy’s Fight Girls show – there is a sense among some westerners that Thais, and in particular Thai female fighters, just are not very good compared to the western opponents they face. We hear it from diverse quarters, including out-there opinions like how somehow “western scientific” training is so superior to outdated or “unscientific” ways of Thais, or bizarrely the nearly racist idea that Thai female fighters are just fighting to stay out of, or even because they can’t get into prostitution (this one both shocks and offends me): the consensus being that Thais, generally, are inferior to their western opponents. And for some this view is born out of actual fights witnessed (the incredibly few that are available to be seen online or maybe witnessed in person while visiting Thailand) between western and Thai women.  Putting aside for the sake of brevity the often overlooked and quite significant size disparity between western and Thai fighters (including most female fights), think about only the motivation. Imagine a career Thai fighter. The fights that matter to her and her gym are side bet fights, and some belt fights, but she also makes a living fighting westerners in tourist stadia.  Westerners who are almost always bigger than her, are often extremely aggressive and have a lot at stake for their personal fight experiences. Sure, she wants to beat this western chick. But in the scope and arc of her life, this is a peripheral fight. This is very likely what it was like in the west in club boxing in the 1950s and 1960s when it was not rare for a male fighter to rack up 100 or more fights. A lot of these fights – a lot of those fights – are 80% fights.

Nook, a wonderful trainer and accidental aphorist at Lanna Muay Thai said it this way (translated from his Thai): “Thais fight a lot, but only a little in each fight. Westerners fight a little, but a lot in each fight.” Part of the 80% fight possibility also grows out of the Thai fight aesthetic. Aggression is not well-rewarded in Thai scoring (which is one reason why westerners feel hometowned when they lose in Thailand, going all out, even if what they’re throwing isn’t high-scoring). There are times when Thais will fight with extreme aggression from the bell, but generally the Thai approach to fighting is to keep the fight in balance, and then at the right moment, or moments, to flip the fight. It’s like two lumberjacks on a rolling log. You both keep the log rolling, and then there is the sudden reversal. Against a westerner a Thai who’s fighting the 80% fight will keep the fight in balance, and then will make the decisive move or moves to flip the fight. An 80% fight is very much like the 100% fight in these cases. It is not easy to see the difference. At a certain point the 80% fighter will just stop trying to flip the fight, and will accept the defeat.  (Or, the 80% fight is just coasting once the win is likely enough for her, doing “just enough” to win without expending too much effort or risking injury.) This move is acceptable in the Thai fighting aesthetic. In fact you see it in 100% fights all the time, when 5th rounds are danced off because one fighter has already run away on points.

The 80% fight does not only occur between Thais and westerners. It can happen any time there isn’t a significant side bet on a fight. In my last fight against World Champion Loma there was supposed to be a 100,000 Baht side bet on the fight, and I was pretty excited by the fact. It meant an in-shape and highly motivated Loma. But then, the night before the fight her gym called up and said that she would not be there for the 46.5 kg weigh-in in the morning. Then, when it was decided that she had to weigh-in at 47 kg before the fight in the evening, we still thought the side bet was on. When she finally got on the scale she was over 48 kg. She had no interest in dropping down (or, perhaps she DID drop down, but couldn’t get to 47). The side bet was off. It changed her motivations. I suspect I got an 80% Loma, which was still enough for her to beat me in the fight but she did so doing the bare minimum – coasting.  I wonder, however, if the 100% Loma would have resulted in a better fight for me as she perhaps would have exposed herself a little more by fighting harder.  I don’t know.  At the same festival as my Loma fight both Phetjee Jaa’s opponent and Tong’s opponent came in much larger than anticipated. There was all kinds of posturing, the fights being called off, opponents getting dressed again in street clothes, and then the fights back on, but without side bets. Were these 80% fights? 70% fights? 95% fights? It’s hard to tell, one would have to watch the in-fight betting to know. But Sangwean said that Phetjee Jaa’s fight “did not matter” because there was no money on it.  Because her opponent didn’t make the weight they agreed upon, if there had been money on it the fight would have been declined by Sangwean because the risk of losing with such a disadvantage is a bad bet. (Jee Jaa absolutely killed it in that fight and won decisively.)  It’s very likely that investments by a fighter change, just like the odds, during the fight itself. A few days before this I fought another World Champion named Tanonchanok with a 10,000 Baht side bet and she pulled off a brilliant 5th round to win, after a dominant 4th round in my favor; without the 10,000 Baht on the line it might have been an 80% fight for her and perhaps she wouldn’t have pushed that last little bit that secured her the win.  She said in her update on Facebook after the fight that she “almost died,” which in an 80% fight might have been an opportunity to just let it slip away.  Without the side bet and in tourist stadia like this one, she would have made the same money on the fight whether she wins or loses. That’s something that Thais fighting out in the fields of non-tourist Muay Thai don’t often get, which is why gambling plays such a huge role in fighting.  Fighters are literally fighting to be paid – they’re “hungry” as we call it in western boxing terms – whereas the fighters in tourist stadia are paycheck fighters; they get the same purse either way.

So, how good are Thai fighters? Aside from the examples of the top male fighters it may be hard to tell. Western fighters very often out-weigh their Thai opponents, sometimes to an extreme degree, and even in title fights we may not be assured of the investment of the Thai fighter. I’ve seen World Champion fights that don’t matter in the least to the Thai fighter, ultimately, but I’ve also seen local stadium belts, like the one I won at Thepprasit in Pattaya, mean a great deal to my gym due to local reputation and politics. It is very hard to discern who is fighting for what. What does it mean to a Thai fighting on a promotion in a western country, especially an older, experienced Thai? It is safe to say that very frequently the Thai fighter is not fighting for the same things, with the same risks and rewards as the western fighter. It doesn’t mean that one is necessarily superior or inferior, but it does mean that fights alone may not adequately show us skills or heart. If fights are missing significant side bets they are adventures in fighting. It should be said that Thai female fighters generally come from a very deep experience of technique and fighting. The age at which many of them start fighting, and the number of fights they experience, put them in a class by themselves as female fighters on a global scale. As a group, I say that they are the most skilled fighters in the world.

What does it mean for me to have fought, as I hope to, over 100 times in Thailand against these best in the world fighters? I think that some have misunderstood what I have been trying to achieve in my goal of fighting more time than any other. In no way does my 100 fights pretend that I am the best, or even the toughest of female fighters. It has always been about two basic things:

1. Improvement – Due to my age and relative inexperience I wanted to fight as much as I can because it seemed like the fastest way for me to improve as a fighter. It is how young Thais learn, they just fight and fight, and because I love fighting it seemed like a perfectly reasonable unreasonable goal to have. 100 fights in Thailand.

2. Culture – A large aspect of the goal was that I just wanted to experience the Muay Thai of Thailand itself, as much as I can as a westerner. I want to be in that ring, generally against the best Thai competition around my weight. I want to experience Muay Thai, to feel it, to digest it, and ultimately discover it in its variety of rings, opponents, promotions – the span of it. The 100 fight number was just a way to push myself, to make sure I didn’t get lazy about my ambition or waste a single opportunity in my relatively short time here. Now that I’m about to pass that 100 in Thailand number,  I  still want to fight as much as possible just the same as before.

Something a little unexpected is that there are things I’ve learned about fighting that I just could not have learned after 20 fights, or 40 fights, or even 80 fights. Of course you expect to grow, but at a certain point you think you “get it”, and you don’t; or at least I didn’t. As you push on through experiences new lessons are revealed to you. And surely I’ll learn things about myself and fighting after 120 fights that I don’t understand now. Fighting in volume has a powerful effect.

Does it bother me that perhaps a portion of my opponents were fighting 80% fights? No, not really. It does bother me that at times I may not have been aware of it, but there is a part of me that really says: As a fighter I can concern myself only with what I can control. I can only train and fight to the best of my abilities and limitations. I’ve consciously tried to balance fights out by accepting fights with weight discrepancies in my Thai opponent’s favor, in 3 out of 4 of my fights I’ve been the smaller opponent, and I’m almost never the larger one. The 80% fight is still a real fight, there are all the attempts to “end it”, and overpower or out-do the opponent.  It isn’t a fake or thrown fight. It just isn’t the fight that westerners typically conceive of, the “leave it all in the ring” will against will, going to war.  It is will against will, it’s just not an equal intention or motivation or commitment that we might expect because each fighter has vastly different investments in that one fight. Would I have placed side bets on my fights if I had known more about how the side bet functions? I’m not sure. I don’t know which fights my gym had placed bets on, surely there were some if not many, but I’m not a gambler. For someone like me placing a bet feels like arrogance towards fate. It feels like boasting, which isn’t my way.  I don’t even throw feints for crying out loud! But I suspect if I had discovered the truth of the 80% fight earlier I would have overcome my reticence and found a way to more regularly place side bets if I could, if only to get the most out of what I was doing, or out of whomever I was fighting. Now, as funds fall low, we wrestle with whether to place a side bet, as any loss will shorten my time in Thailand, but placing a side bet may guarantee a fight I’d really want to have. We’re also thinking about if it is possible, with a high enough winning rate, to help support myself out here with side bets.  Imagine that: delving into the next layer of Thai fight game by quite literally fighting to keep fighting.


If you found this post on matchups in Thailand interesting, you may also enjoy these three:

When Turning Down a World Title Fight – Taking Care

The Reality of Fight Matchups in Thailand – The Wild, Wild West

Westerners Who Have Fought A Lot in Thailand – My 100 Fights



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A 100 lb. (46 kg) female Muay Thai fighter. Originally I trained under Kumron Vaitayanon (Master K) and Kaensak sor. Ploenjit in New Jersey. I then moved to Thailand to train and fight full time in April of 2012, devoting myself to fighting 100 Thai fights, as well as blogging full time. Having surpassed 100, and then 200, becoming the westerner with the most fights in Thailand, in history, my new goal is to fight an impossible 471 times, the historical record for the greatest number of documented professional fights (see western boxer Len Wickwar, circa 1940), and along the way to continue documenting the Muay Thai of Thailand in the Muay Thai Library project: see


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