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April 25, 2015 – Sa Gaew Technical College – fight dedicated to Hannah Edmonds
There’s this guy named Bpiak at Petchrungruang. His kids used to fight for the gym, a son and a daughter, and both have “retired” in their early teens but he’s come back to the gym and sometimes holds pads for the boys. He’s set up a few fights for me already and a while back asked if I would come fight in his hometown (moo bahn), which I thought was great. Then he asked if I would fight this opponent from Chiang Rai… “Faa- something” he said (in Thai) and I asked Faa Chiang Rai? He snapped his fingers in recognition, “yeah, that one.” Yes, yes I will!
I fought Faa Chiang Rai three times back a couple years in Chiang Mai. First time we drew, second time she won (my parents watched that fight, I was disappointed), and the third I won. She’s a great fighter and has recently won the Muay Siam Northern Champion belt at 102 lbs (I believe). So I was really excited to fight her again.
This was supposed to have a big side bet on it (100,000 Baht) and there was a big back and forth about checking weight, so I did a whole water cut to shave off a couple kilos and then found out a day before the fight that there was no weigh in. Oh well; just stop doing the cut.
Kevin and I arrived at the venue an hour before the start time after a 4 hour drive, so we retraced to a string of street stalls we’d driven past and I had something to good to eat. Bpiak and another kid from my gym who was fighting, 10-year-old Slovakian phenom Jozef, met us at the ring shortly after. It was a cool little venue, basically in an area of the agricultural department of the technical college. I looked on the card and saw I was the fourth fight, but not against Faa Chiang Rai and the weight was higher than my own. I just fight who they put in front of me, but I was disappointed to not be facing Faa. There was no explanation for the change, but the opponent listed was from Phayao, which is also waaaay up north, so she’d come basically from the same distance that Faa would have from Chiang Rai. There was actually only one fighter on the whole card listed as from the province we were fighting in, so I guess everyone came from kinda far. Phayao is really far though.
I was made to stand next to my opponent, who Kevin had spotted immediately upon our arrival. To be fair, she was pretty much the only other woman there who could have been a fighter. She had confidence about her and kind of surprised me in that she fought in only a sports bra and no tanktop, which is (from my experience) not typical of the more conservative North. It wasn’t until after the fight when we were entering her name into my complete fight record that we realized I’d fought her before, in Chiang Mai!
It’s funny, I just now wrote how I could see her confidence at this fight and then went to read a bit from my old blog post about our first fight and I’d said the opposite:
“I admit with full recognition of my folly that I underestimated her for a number of reasons: […] 2) she did not have an air of confidence about her person; she didn’t look like a fighter, or what a fighter looks like to me in my head.”
I reckon this is a change in how I perceive confidence now – the last time we fought was about 50 fights ago – but I do also acknowledge that her confidence might have grown. It’s probably both. But in our last fight she had given me a lot of trouble. I’d struggled with her a lot for 4 rounds and she was throwing elbows at me (which back then I really wasn’t used to) and her size was overwhelming me in the clinch; in this fight it wasn’t that way at all. I controlled her in the clinch pretty well – not easily, mind you, it took some time to get my positions organized, but I didn’t feel that I was struggling with her in the fight. And she didn’t seem that big. She may have lost a little weight in the time between.
In the last fight, I wrote that I was relieved when I knocked her out in round 4, just happy to have the overwhelming pressure of the fight be over. This time around I thought she’d get up after I kneed her to the ground in round 3; to be fair, I kneed her in the head this time and she probably wasn’t into that at all. But generally in this fight I was the one putting the pressure on her and she was fighting backwards and on the ropes the whole time. And, having not remembered her, I thought this time around that her clinch was not a strong point at all.
A few things: 1) it’s very weird that I didn’t remember her; I remember all my opponents (or have every time I’ve tried) pretty clearly. And when I discovered I’d fought her before I was able to immediately place her, but I wouldn’t have known unless her name had been matched by my computer autocomplete. Maybe I’m running out of room in my noggin? 2) Fighters change. I’m certainly a different version of myself now than I was the first time we fought, so that means that she won’t do exactly what she did the first time around or have the same advantages or disadvantages or any of that. I could fight her four times and get a different experience each time. So, while I can definitely measure my own growth by this being a rematch, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this was the best version of her or that she wouldn’t give me more trouble if we went again.
I was happy with this fight. I was able to progressively work out what wasn’t working for me and fine-tune what was. After my fight I got to watch Jozef, who was awesome as always but for whatever reason was told to go hard in the last round and lost the fight. His dad told me he’s fought this same kid 4 times and lost 3 of them… well, now 4 losses out of 5. I was in Jozef’s corner and this gambler was going off to me about how Jozef should be clinching. I just smiled and told him Jozef isn’t a clincher, because he isn’t. The guy was totally in disbelief, almost arguing with me. I don’t know if he assumed that because I am a clincher that my teammate will be too. Or if he just thought that watching a fight is like playing a video game and you can make any fighter do any technique by yelling it loud enough and often enough.
We stayed for a few more fights and Jai Dee met a little girlfriend dog – a beautiful little Doppelganger exactly his size; she must live at the school. They played non-stop for a good 40 minutes. Some little kids came over and tried to referee, cheering for one dog or the other and pretend betting on the outcome. Little kids playing gamblers is pretty funny. I wanted to take Jai Dee’s friend home with us, but obviously couldn’t. He did sleep like a champ the whole 4 hour drive home though.
My Post Fight Update