May 18th, 2014 – Thapae Stadium, Chiang Mai –
I actually set this fight up on my own, which is a first and hopefully unusual – if not last – for me. Since Den has gone to Scotland it has proved difficult to get a fight scheduled because he’s the manager with all the contacts and even though Daeng can contact all the same people he’s not accustomed to, or perhaps interested in, doing so. Daeng did set me up a fight but it wasn’t until the 30th, which would be more than two weeks from when I’d asked for one. So I just went down to the stadium and asked for a fight that same weekend and the promoter called me back an hour later with a date.
When I went to watch my teammates fight a couple days before this is when I found out it was meant to be against Baifern. She’s smaller than a lot of the other women that we both fight in Chiang Mai and was, in fact, the smallest fighter out of an 8-woman tournament at 50 kg that’s been going on and she made it to the final 4, so I’d assumed she was closer to my size than what she actually turned out to be. In the two years I’ve been fighting in Chiang Mai we’ve never met in the ring, which is pretty amazing, and I’d been told that we were fighting before and then it just always changed, so I was excited by the idea of fighting her – finally – but knew that nothing is ever certain.
It happened that it started raining about an hour before it was time to head down to the fight and it just didn’t let up. So I had to forgo my run that I’ve been doing before fights lately and we drove down on the motorbike in the rain. I have a waterproof jacket that kept my upper body dry but my pants were soaked through and walking around the stadium, which is usually very hot with little air moving through it, was actually incredibly cold. I was shivering as the doctor took my blood pressure… in Thailand, in May. But Baifern was on the poster and her name was on the card, so it looked good that we’d actually be fighting.
Big Neung was in my corner and he was already at the venue but all the things needed for the fight – the wraps, tape, oil, Vaseline, Mongkol, etc – were in a bag with Tor and little Neung, who had not yet arrived. I was scheduled as the 6th fight of the night but every single fight was ending in first round KO, so it went very quickly and there was just enough time to get my hands wrapped, my body oiled, changed into my shorts and then into the ring. Baifern was walking around getting ready also and I was surprised by how big she looked. I knew she’d be tall, which is the feature that most people mention when talking about her, and I’d actually seen her fight before a few times so this wasn’t my first time seeing her, but I’d never really compared her to me before, so it was a little surprising that she was still so big.
At Thapae just before you get in the ring you go over to a separate area to put your gloves on. I got there after Baifern did because big Neung was covering me in Vaseline. He’s a WBC boxing champion so I think he’s way into using a lot of Vaseline because you can in Muay Thai, whereas you definitely can’t use it in the same way in boxing. When we got there Baifern was taking off red gloves and changing them out for blue; maybe she’d not realized what corner she was in or something. It became somewhat confusing for a moment though because the announcer started talking about my shorts to Tor and big Neung while they were unlacing my gloves to get my hands into them. I was definitely red corner and was wearing pink shorts (which is totally normal) so I wasn’t sure if he was asking for us to change corners or what. Turns out he was just demanding that I tuck in my shirt, which is fair enough. Teeps can get caught on the hem of loose-fitting shirts, which is why most women either tuck them in or wear tight sport tops. (It also looks “neater,” which is a big deal in Muay Thai, which is fairly conservative in its aesthetics.) I never tuck in my shirt – I do normally wear tighter tops, but this is my Rahu shirt and I love it – so that was a little bit uncomfortable but didn’t make much difference. What was funny is that I didn’t have hands anymore with my gloves on, so Tor had to tuck my shirt in for me. This is an awkward thing, even though my corners rub oil on my torso and limbs at every fight, suddenly having to lift my waistband was freaking him out. I noticed this with Den a few fights ago when I asked him to retie my shorts for me between rounds; awkward city. The shirt got tucked without incident, I just mention it because it was notable and a little comical.
In round one I was trying to figure out distance and work the same “in/out” with my back leg that had worked well for me in my last fight. I landed some good punches but Baifern landed a couple of kicks, which score higher. We’re both clinch fighters, which I already knew going in – and she has these long legs that come over blocks so nice when she’s trying to get in during tie-ups – but I wasn’t consciously prepared for her size advantage. I’m stronger, certainly, but the leverage she has with her height and she knows how to achieve the angles she wants, so the little spurts of clinching we did in round one were a calibration period for both of us.
Round two I tried to reach her with my jab a little better. Not to even necessarily hit her with it, but to interrupt her rhythm and set up my own stuff with it. I was inching toward that goal but not quite accomplishing it the way I wanted or needed to. I was able to block her attempts at alternating kicks but when she got the double lock behind my neck in the clinch (that’s my fault, you can always avoid this) she jerked me around really well and it looked like total domination from her. Pisses me off. She got some good rabbit knees in when we tied up but I think I got them back; she definitely won that round though.
At the start of round three we tie up against the ropes and her left side is against the line (0:27 or so). There’s no way for her to get her knee around and my knee is already up so she goes under it and just f***ing racks me in the box… so hard. I don’t usually wear a groin guard because what they make for ladies is useless and a male cup (which is steel) is absolutely awesome in the regard of protection but protrudes too far out for what is necessary for a woman, so they’re not as easy to keep in place as on men and can be too… um, bulky. Here’s the thing though: I’ve been racked a few times and it hurts a lot and the knot that results from such impact stays for weeks and hurts for weeks. So, yeah, it doesn’t have that pain-crawling-up-your-gut sensation that men get but it lasts much, much longer. I’ve never regretted wearing a cup when I do, so I think I need to just remember that when I’m doing the whole “I’m not sure if I’ll wear it” debate in my head.
When I put her down on a caught kick I had to pull myself back up from almost coming down with her and I had my glove on her face for a lingering moment, just to let it sink in. Oh man, she was so pissed. I started to work my arms to the inside more in the clinch, something I should have done way earlier – as in always – and that was helping me to negate her size advantage. I was gaining, for sure. Somewhere in the 1:40 mark her elbow contacts my forehead and I cannot see it at all in this video. She didn’t really throw an elbow and I didn’t really jump into it, but somewhere between those two options the two met and my face opened up. When we go against the ropes and kind of bend outward for a second I’m spraying blood all over the judge over there, so I was already just cut at that point. Seriously, I don’t know how this went down. Apparently my face is made of tissue paper. The ref notices that I’m bleeding – I definitely notice I’m bleeding because I can’t see out of my left eye – and he takes me over to the doctor. I told him I wanted to keep fighting and he gave me a “no fucking way” look while he gestured to the ref.
I was very upset. I was so upset that I was a jerk about it and while Tony was trying to wipe the blood off of me with the towel I basically told him to get away from me (which you can see me say to little Neung in the video). Tony is the nicest guy in the world. Behaving this way toward him is like saying you hate kittens or something, which just illustrates how pissed off I was. My corner was just confused. Nobody saw the elbow and everyone was asking me if it was a headbutt or something. Anyway, I got 6 stitches and my total count is up to 44. Generally I’d never be this much of a jerk just by losing a fight but I cannot conjure a more agitating way to lose a fight than be told I cannot continue when I want to continue. It’s how the game is played, the doctor and referee are there for my safety and protection – I get it, I respect them and I’m grateful for them; but I hate being stopped. Hate it. Baifern came by to say “sorry” and was very nice afterwards – only serious assholes are uncool after fights – but within my congratulations to her was the knowledge that I would have beat her in this fight if it had gone on. It didn’t, so I’m just spouting off… I’m just saying.
After the doctor finished stitching me up I thanked him and joked, “I make you work so hard!” because he’s the same guy who stitched me up (with one stitch) two fights ago. He thought that was pretty funny. He’s a good guy.
Post Fight Update
A Few Seconds of the Stitching
The Whole Fight
Complete Fight Record