Update: As of March 2016, Brangthong is ranked # 7 challenger for the Super Flyweight WMC title, which is currently vacant.
After feeling a bit rusty in my fight on the Queen’s birthday, I wanted to have another one as soon as possible to get comfortable again, so the promoter set me up with one two weeks later at Asiatique. He matched me with BrangThong PhetPairat, an opponent who he’d asked me to fight before. I was working on that occasion, so had to pass. I knew nothing about her, which is the case with almost all of my opponents, but he did send me a couple of photos of her.
On the morning of the fight, I was woken up by a knock at the door. It was a French guy who’d been staying at the gym for a little while. He said said that he’d heard that I was fighting that evening and wanted to know if I could get him on the card as well. Having just woken up, I was not ready for how ridiculous this was. For a start, even if it was a possibility, he should have been asking the trainers, not waking me up on fight day. The guy barely even trained anyway! I politely told him that there was absolutely no chance, although on reflection, I probably should have just told him to fuck off because he just stood there and stared at me anyway, not taking in what I was saying and asking for the promoter’s details. I gave him some bullshit answer about finding it on Facebook and went back to bed, wondering what had just happened. Must get better and telling people to piss off.
There were a lot of new people at the gym that week, so they all came down to watch the fight. It was strange to have a bunch of people I didn’t know instead of the support group that I’m used to, but since all of my friends and usual training partners had left, it was nice to have new people to do that for me. When I got there, I found that some of my students had turned up, too! That was a really nice surprise. The only time I’d ever had students come to see me fight was my third one, which was on the Queen’s birthday in 2012. Although my students often take an interest in my training and fights, I’d never expect them to actually come out to watch me. This time, Toi, a lady in her forties, Sine and her younger sister, Somza, who I also teach, were all waiting outside for me when I arrived. At first, they would only allow me to come in with one cornerman, so they snapped this photo of me before Kru Singh and I went upstairs to prepare.
BrangThong was already there on one mat having her hair done, so we went to the opposite mat, sat down and started to get ready with the gear they’d provided us with. It wasn’t until just before the fight that the promoter came along and told us that we’d dressed in the wrong colours. I was apparently in the blue corner, but had put on the red shirt and shorts, so we did a quick switch before heading out. Unfortunately, this meant swapping a decent-sized pair of red shorts for some giant blue ones, which hung off me. I had to just pull the cord as tight as I could, tie a knot in it and hope that they didn’t fall down. They looked pretty ridiculous.
When I came out onto the stage and into the ring, I was surprised to hear so many people cheering for me. I’m really not used to having more than my corner and maybe a few other people there, so it made a nice change to have that extra support. It definitely felt good. I wish that positive feeling had continued into the fight, because it ended up being a really bad one for me. There’s very little for me to say about it other than that it was just a terrible performance on my part. BrangThong was a good, strong opponent who moved forward with heavy kicks, but she wasn’t the problem. I just didn’t feel like myself at all. None of my weapons were coming out and I couldn’t find my distance or timing at all. My corner wanted me to use my left kick a lot, but it only took one of those to remind me that it was still injured from my last fight, so that was out of the question. After defending too much in my last fight, one of my trainers had spent the last couple of weeks trying to change my style. We’d worked together on teeping and moving because he specifically wanted me to block less, using more effective techniques instead. We’d managed to get that working well in training and I hadn’t expected to be able to bring it into a fight so quickly, but I wasn’t quite ready for how much this style change would throw me off. I landed the teeps, but with her aggressive style, she was coming forward anyway. When I didn’t land them, my lack of blocking allowed her to get a couple of good body kicks in, which landed very heavily on the right side of my rib cage and left me heaving for breath, unable to throw anything back for a few moments. It was all very frustrating and confusing for me and it just didn’t feel like me. In the end, she took a very clear win on points.
Everyone seemed a bit confused when I came out of the ring. I immediately apologised to my students for putting on such a bad show after they’d come all the way out to see me, although having never seen like Muay Thai before, they were happy just to be there. While taking off my wraps, my trainers tried to comfort me by telling me that she was ‘bigger‘, ‘very good‘ and ‘had a lot of fights‘, which I would normally let them do because I know they’re just trying to be nice, but I stopped them and said ‘no, I just didn’t fight well‘. I can’t blame a performance like that on my opponent, I have to take responsibility for it. You can’t make excuses, especially not after as many fights as I’ve had. Besides, she most certainly wasn’t any bigger than me! Even the promoter seemed surprised by how badly I’d fought. He asked if I was sick or injured, with a concerned look on his face. One guy from the gym later commented, I’ve never seen you like that. It was a bit embarrassing, really.
Until now, I’ve always been able to take away something positive from every fight, but not from this one. This is one of those fights that I have to just move on from as quickly as possible, not dwelling on it or letting it define my ability as a fighter. I know that I’m better than how I fought on this occasion, but it’s hard not to let a performance that bad get you down. I came out of it feeling sure that I needed to take some time for some mental and physical R & R, and with my birthday coming up a few days later, it seemed like a good time to do that. I’ve written a separate post on that and how it worked for me.
Unfortunately, I only managed to get a few pictures from my students, and they aren’t the best quality. In the only group one, have my eyes closed! Still, see below for those (click to enlarge).