This fight was the first of two that I had in the AITMA Championship tournament, which took place over Naikanomthom festival in Ayutthaya. As I’d had less than 10 fights, I was set to fight in the B-class category, which meant wearing shin guards and elbow pads. Since I’ve only ever fought in Thailand, this was a first for me. I wasn’t keen on the idea of wearing protective gear, but was happy for the opportunity to fight in my first tournament.
Prior to this fight, I’d had two fights in ten days. There was only a two-week break between the last fight and this one, so my shins still had that bruised and squishy feeling, and I wasn’t feeling confident about my kicks. So, perhaps it wasn’t too bad to have to wear shin guards. I could worry about the pain after the fight, so it wasn’t much of a problem. I just wasn’t used to having fights so close together at this point. I was matched up with Sarah Brown from Pollet’s Gym in Australia. She would be my first-ever non-Thai opponent.
As it turned out, a mix-up at the beginning of the fight meant that things didn’t go quite according to plan. As I slid under the ropes and entered the ring to meet my opponent, I noticed that she was wearing the required elbow pads, but not shin pads. Her cornerman must have forgotten them. As a quick fix, my trainer quickly whipped mine from my legs. I was a little worried about my shins and also a little confused about what the rules even were at this point, but in Thailand, occurrences like this are no surprise! Actually, it was nice not to have those horrible, itchy sock-like guards on and do what felt natural.
I had actually had the pleasure of spending some time with Sarah in the days leading up to the fight (before we knew that we’d be matched against each other), as we were both already in Ayutthaya for the festivities. She was really nice and down to earth, and seemed like the kind of person I’d really get along with. Still, fighting someone doesn’t necessarily mean having any aggression towards them. As the fight began, I felt confident, but reminded myself not to underestimate her. I’d only ever fought Thai opponents before, so prepared myself for a different style of fighting.
I expected her to charge at me from the first round, in a much more aggressive style than what I’m used to. She didn’t, which set a more familiar pace for me. Despite this, as the rounds progressed, I somehow felt my stamina failing me. Having fights in such quick succession had left me little time to recover or train, meaning that my cardio wasn’t at its best. You’d think that I’d feel fit and ready to go since I’d just come out of another fight, but it certainly didn’t feel that way. At this point, I was grateful that the fight was only three rounds.
In the final round, I knew that I had the lead. My kicks were out-scoring her punches and she’d started to show more fatigue (although, I wasn’t feeling so fresh myself). Towards the very end of the fight, she seemed to have a vacant look in her eyes, and her hand fell to her sides, leaving her with no guard. She later told me that she couldn’t even see me at that point! If that had been any other fight, I would have charged in, looking for the knockout, but I’m glad I didn’t. I didn’t feel that was necessary. Firstly, I knew that I had more experience than her, so it was already a match to my advantage. Secondly, I didn’t want to risk getting even more hurt. As this was a tournament, I knew I would have to fight the following day, so there was no need to risk prolonging injury when I could get a win on points and then give my best in the final fight. On top of that, halfway through the final round, I heard my opponent’s corner shout “don’t hurt her!”, which can only have been aimed at me. I thought about it a lot after the fight, and it provoked mixed feelings. Why would they tell me not to hurt her? A fight is a fight, and both of us entered the ring knowing that we’d risk experiencing some amount of pain. If the shoe was on the other foot, would she have taken pity on me? I don’t think so, and why should she? Would my trainer have shouted something like that? Absolutely not. But at the same time, I understood their intentions. I was already going to win the fight, and there was no need to try and cause unnecessary damage. This is something you often see in fights in Thailand. Many times, if the fight has already shown a clear winner, the final round can be very uneventful. The fighters will often touch gloves and give each other a nod, in mutual recognition that there is no need to continue battling until the final bell. After that, they’ll usually walk, bounce or dance around the ring waving their hands in the air for the final moments of the fight. I’ve heard many foreigners become frustrated with this, asking what the point is, as if to say that it means that those fighters are showing a lack of heart. But I can totally relate. For many, fighting is a hobby, but for Thai fighters, it’s often a career and a lifestyle. It’s not uncommon for them to be fighting every two weeks, or even more often than that, so they want to avoid injury as much as possible. For them, an unnecessary injury would stifle their income and career. This is one of the reasons why I love Muay Thai — even while fighting, opponents still manage to maintain respect for each other.
My trainers have often commented that I am too ‘jai dee’ when I fight, basically saying that I’m too nice. I can totally see where they’re coming from. It might sound silly, because it’s a fight, but natural aggression is something that I have to continuously work on to bring out of myself. For me, it might just take more time and more fights than it would for some other people.
After the fight, I felt a little disappointed in my performance (which is normal for me, regardless of the result). I’d won, but I felt that I hadn’t shown an improvement in my skill or ability. But I had to remind myself that this was my third fight that month, and that it wasn’t possible to constantly be on top of my game. So, I spent the rest of my evening icing my shins and preparing for the next fight — The final of the tournament.
See below for a gallery of images from the fight.
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Nice entry, I could understand being tired from so many fights in such a quick succession. Adrenaline spikes take a couple of days at least to wear off; three fights in less than a month is pretty hectic.
Thanks for sharing all these details! It is always great to see how a fight looks from a fighter’s eyes. 🙂 Best of luck for your next fight!
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