My opponent was a well-seasoned low-kick fighter with something like 20-30 fights under her belt, but it was her first Muay Thai match. I had a lot of faith in the fact that I am a good fighter and I would be able to, at least, put on a performance that I could be proud of. Still, I was worried because I could not make a solid prediction about her style besides knowing she would be good and I had to be prepared to a huge variety of potential fighting styles that I have never had to face before. As all fighters hope before they enter the ring, I wanted more than anything just to out there and show off my talent. I hoped that I could rely on doing what I do best and pull off a win without any specific game plan. I have enough experience now to know that it is never as easy as you hope it will be to do accomplish the things you want to accomplish in a fight. For weeks you train and you develop your skills and you want nothing more than to show off the things you’re best at. It’s easy to forget that at the same time there is someone else training just as hard as you whose plan is exactly to stop you from doing what you are best at.
I calmed my nerves by focusing on the big advantage I had- which is that I train with a serious Muay Thai camp and I have a lot of experience with clinching and throwing knees. I knew I could count on the fact that she had little to no experience there. My goal that I kept repeating in my head was to “make her never want to fight Muay Thai again.” Of course, my true goal was to show her how effective Muay Thai striking can be. At the risk of bragging, the knees that I fed to her during the fight were brutal. I completely expected her to give up after getting a real taste of the clinch. She never did give up, however. Each time she came out of the clinch and returned with aggression, she showed that she has a strong heart. I appreciated the fact that she chose to continue. Every round gave me a little more experience to use for the tournament in September, in which the girls will likely have similar fighting styles.
If you watched the fight, it might seem that I specifically laid out a game plan to use my knees. This is actually not the case. I did expect that my knees would be effective, and I had that in the back of my head the whole time. However, I would have preferred to show more varied techniques throughout the fight. The reason why we kept ending up in the same situation is because my opponent would strike very aggressively, with her head and body constantly moving forward towards me. Each time this happened, the most effective thing for me to do would be to grab her head so that I could have control of her entire body. In another style of fighting, I can see how this aggression would be very effective for her. To overwhelm her opponent like that would take away a lot of their options. In fact, I’m sure this is the reason why she has won many of her fights. In other styles of kickboxing, there would be no punishment for her form. Whereas, in Muay Thai, we train to keep our shoulders above our hips at all times to not give up our head.
Of course, in reality, I hope she does continue to fight Muay Thai and learns to appreciate the beauty of the clinch and knee-striking techniques. Whether or not she decides to continue with the sport, I can say my true goal was realized. I played a smart, effective game. I showed off my personal skills. I taught her a little something about my sport. I got some good experience, learned a lot, and I had a blast. Now I have a huge amount of momentum to use during training in the next month and a half. I expect the knowledge gained from this fight to have a huge effect on the way I fight in Orlando.