This fight was very loosely intended to be against a fighter named Baifern, who is an opponent who I have managed to not face off against in over a year and a half of being in the same fighting pool.Â In the car on the way down to the venue, however, DenÂ told me I would be facing a fighter named Nong Phet.Â He went on to say she’d fought the other Sylvie (Sylvie Charbonneau of Canada, who inspired me to come to Lanna in the first place as she was working toward 50 fights; she retired with the 50th fight right before I arrived the first trip out to Thailand a few years ago), so she’s been fighting for quite a while.Â That’s not atypical, I’ve fought a few of the same opponents who Sylvie faced back in the day.
When we got to the venue it was pretty much business-as-usual, except that it’s cold up here in Chiang Mai and the usually sweltering hum of bodies amid the neon lights of all the bars surrounding the ring was replaced by a kind of strange feeling of the cold cement of a warehouse, or something.Â When I went over to the doctor he checked my blood pressure through a long-sleeved running jacked and a hoodie over that – pretty fine instrument to get a reading!Â One of the officials who has been the referee for a number of my fights started asking me questions in Thai.Â I thought it was about how long I’ve been here, how long I will stay in Thailand, how many fights I have… this kind of thing.Â But it was hard to understand him and I slowly came to realize he was – I think – asking me how much I pay the gym per month; or maybe how much money I make in fighting.Â It was odd, more so because I wasn’t entirely clear what he was asking.Â So I just told him I don’t pay for training but that the gym gets a portion of my purse from each fight, which resulted in a contemplative nod from him and that was it.Â I wonder what his interest was – whether I’m a good investment for the gym, or if it’s just in the interest of gossip… who knows?
I warmed up next to Nong Min, who has fought a few of my friends out here, most recently Frankie, who is a fantastic training partner to have when she actually shows up for training.Â I think talent is a curse in some ways.Â I thought for a moment that I might be fighting Nong Min myself, as no other female fights were listed on the card – but then, it’s hard to tell the gender of names in Thai at times and with the creative spelling of western names you can just have no clue what it started out as.Â But on my way over to the ring – I was the second fight of the evening, which was kind of wonderful to not have to wait so long – I caught a glimpse of my opponent, Nong Phet, and she was amazingly tall.Â I noticed right away her One Songchai shorts, which is the name of one of maybe 2-3 top promoters in Thailand, based in Bangkok.Â You can get shorts from anywhere, but generally that means she fought on a big show, probably for a title at some point.
As it turns out she is, indeed, a world champion.Â That makes two world champions, one Northern Thai champion, three top-ranked in the world, and one opponent at 13 kg bigger than me all in a row – and in increasing size among the top-ranked and champs.Â It’s great experience and I want to be fighting the best in the world – it’s amazing to me that I’m doing so without even being told for the most part, as I always find out after the fight – but it has been a tough two months of really, really strong opponents.
I think Nong Phet is the best I’ve fought, thus far.Â She’s maybe 54 kg (I’m 47 kg) and kicks incredibly hard.Â But the size wasn’t the issue.Â She could be 7 kg less than I am and still give me an incredibly difficult challenge.Â She sucker teeped me right out of the glove-touch, which I think is a dick move but, hey, it’s a fight.Â She basically teeped and headkicked me all throughout the fight.Â I just tried to keep coming forward, although I didn’t really accomplish anything in terms of strikes in the process of doing so.Â I just got credit for being smaller and tough as hell against such an amazing fighter.Â I did hear the audience cheering for me, erupting in screams when I landed maybe one or two good shots.Â That was great.Â But my corner was pretty silent in the final break between rounds.Â There was just nothing to do.Â She was throwing elbows that I wasn’t returning; I was blocking kicks at times but falling back and not taking space or return strikes; and she literally just put her weight on me – I think at one point without even putting her gloves around me – in the clinch, which is where I might have had a good shot.Â It was a very, very tough fight and it was hard to feel positively about it in the fog of the loss, but I do know it’s a valuable experience.Â I do know that it is making me better.
Post Fight Update:
Rounds 3 and 4 are shot on the phone because the camera was running out of battery, so they might look a little different.
The Whole Fight
Complete Fight Record