This was my first fight back at Kalare Stadium this month, as my last two fights have been at festivals in different districts. The referee for this fight has also refereed my last two fights, though, so I reckon all of these productions have been organized by the same promoter.
On Wednesday, my last full day of training, Daeng was sparring with me and he likes to quasi-impersonate some of my opponents. He was yelling about Chompu and kicking my front leg, so I considered quietly that I might be rematching the woman I fought for my 30th fight in Chiang Rai. So in the back of my mind I was ready to deal with her style and potential hunger for revenge for the last fight, but also perfectly aware that I never know who I’m fighting so I’d better be ready for anybody.
Off was fighting also, so the back of Daeng’s truck was absolutely full – every seat on each bench and the floor. Sometimes it’s nice to go with such a big group – the energy is high and uncertain and calm all at the same time due to the mix of spectators, gym buddies, first-timers and fighters.
Once at the venue I picked up a fight card and saw that I was not rematching Chompu, but was fighting a familiar camp Jit Aree Gym. I’ve fought two of their fighters multiple times, usually losing on decision with one draw and a single victory against a woman I never fought before or again. The name on the card was new and the weight was higher than the opponents I’ve faced from that gym, typically. On my way over to the doctor before the fight a Thai man called me over to where he was standing with a little group and was very friendly (wordlessly) while a woman walked over to me from the far corner of the stadium. This must be my opponent. She had short hair and braces and acted a little shy, but we said hello to each other and the betters who had called us over assessed our relative sizes. She was taller than me by a couple inches, but I wasn’t worried by it. The fight card said 50 kilos as the weight, which I am below and I’m pretty sure she was above, but not by much on either end. Maybe 6-10 lbs difference between us.
Her coach, the Jit Aree Gym coach, loves to come over to me before the fight and try to play head games. He had me stand up and made some noises, then indicated that his fighter is taller. I nodded and spoke to him in Thai, telling him I’d seen her already and she’s only a little taller, no big deal. He then turned to Daeng and told him that his fighter has to be bigger than I am to make it fair because I am “too strong.” He indicated that a taller opponent wouldn’t be thwarted by my tendency to pull fighters around in the clinch. Whatever.
The fight started out slowly, a little testing back and forth. I brought my head in first too heavily on some punches and she countered with a great elbow that cut me right in the hairline and it started to bleed. She looked a little shocked when she noticed the blood dripping, but I felt it right away and knew that a fight could be stopped so it was a matter of staying focused and expressing that I wanted to keep fighting. And her height/weight did make the clinch a little more difficult, but between rounds Den was telling me to turn her, so I tried that and became more successful with it as the fight went on.
I haven’t watched this fight yet, so I won’t try to describe details. In the main I was feeling like I could have pushed a lot more in this fight and definitely should have thrown more. I was having difficulty letting my hands go and in the later rounds when she was boxing my guard I should have been kicking her ribs with her punches extended. Next time. The decision of a draw got a strong reaction from the crowd and my corner (and betters who must have had a lot of money riding on this fight as a draw brings it all to zero), but I was happy with the draw. Better than a loss and if it had been a victory the win would have given too great an emphasis on one thing as being what swayed the fight. Instead I get to assess from my own experience of it what I want to focus on, what worked and what didn’t and pressure my trainers to bring me in those directions rather than that I wasn’t listening (loss) or that I did enough (win). A draw is good for this one and I look forward to a rematch, which will go differently.
The Whole Fight
Afterward I got to go over to the doctor and chat with my teammates while he got all his stuff together for the stitches. Ben called it at 6 stitches and told me that if the doctor tried to do fewer I should complain. Apparently sometimes doctors go minimal and the wound doesn’t heal as well. I sat in a plastic chair and listened to the next fight after me, which was very exciting for the crowd and ended in a KO. I was calm and relaxed as my teammates buzzed around me and the doctor clipped my hair, cleaned the cut and began stitching. I would open my eyes sometimes and see my husband smiling, Ben looking excited and horrified at the same time, or Den watching quietly from a short distance. As my adrenaline wore off the pain of the stitches became more pronounced, but you just sit through it. There’s no help in making noise or wincing about it – “take the fight out of your face,” as it goes. I think Den may have thought I was passing out (my eyes were closed most of the time) and he came over and put his hand on my knee, asking if I was okay. I smiled and said “yes” and he just stayed there with a calm, soft, presence with his hand resting on my knee for another minute before he moved to talk to someone.
Ben and Den talked about how many stitches they’d gotten. Den at first said “ten” and Ben balked. It was clarified that Den meant the most he ever got was 10 at once but altogether was too many to count. I loved that the interpretation of that question was so different between the two of them. Den had given an opponent 40 stitches at one time from two elbows and the cut reached from between the eyebrows all the way up and back towards the back of the head. Crazy! But I am proud to have a stitch count. When I got cut on the eyebrow in my 7th fight (I think) I’d been made fun of by John Wayne Parr (via YouTube) for getting “glued” instead of having stitches. “How are you going to have a stitch count if you get glued?!” He’d said. So the christening goes. My stitch count is 7.
The Stitch Video