Fight 173 – Sylvie Petchrungruang vs. Zaza Sor. Aree
I got the call for this fight while I was driving home from another fight. Kevin had wanted me to fight with Zaza for a while, although she doesn’t fight often or on the kinds of shows I frequent, and is pretty big, so the chances of our paths crossing were quite slim. So, when this fell into my lap it was kind of a, “oh, yeah, great,” kind of response, even though nothing about the fight was in my favor: 3 rounds, big weight difference, etc. I take these kinds of fights often, and fighting up is something I’ve made a specialty out of due to necessity and passion.
Driving into Bangkok for a day-before weigh in and then coming in super early the day of the fight to get hair and makeup done – for the fight – isn’t my favorite, one reason I tend to avoid these kinds of promotions, but it’s good experience to have this of show every now and again. My excitement came from having Karuhat corner for me again. He’s my hero and I am surprised every time he agrees to come take care of me; especially given how outside of his world this kind of show is.
At weigh in they didn’t even move the scale to see what I actually weighed. They just had Zaza check first, she made the 52 kg mark and then they left the scale right there and when I stepped on the scale it didn’t move at all (as I was 46 kg), which led to a bit of confusion about the difference in our weight.
The reason why the weigh in is something of a side story in this fight is that while it is almost never an issue, my opponent’s camp decided to make a big deal about the fact that I stated the weight difference, implying that somehow the two of us were approximately the same size. Yes, I’d agreed to the fight knowing the difference, that’s no problem, but when I mentioned on an Instagram photo of the weigh in that there was a 5 kg difference (actually 6 kg, as I wasn’t aware of my weight at that moment, and in the fight it might have been 8 kg), Zaza’s boyfriend – a well known French fighter who appears on the THAI FIGHT series – made a big deal about how I’m such an asshole for bringing up the weight difference at all and then claimed that I had weighed in at 52 kg also. The reason I bring weight differences up, I explained, is because it’s a fact and part of the story of the fight. I can’t tell you how many fighters in the west have written to me, terrified because their opponent is, like, 2 lbs heavier than they are. If people come to see that weight differences take place all the time in Thailand people will come to know that you won’t die with a 10 lbs difference (which I frequently face); they will be less terrified of differences that they’re facing. So, this is why I always take note of the weights in my fights. It’s important to know these things. This whole unpleasantness was annoying to have going into this fight, something I’m very grateful to not have to deal with out here almost ever. So, again, part of the experience of the kind of fight this was. Kevin ended up making a little video to show that the scale never moved when I stepped on it, because the debate spilled over on a Thai Facebook group. I do believe that Zaza’s boyfriend just didn’t look closely and truly believed I’d also weighed in at 52. Easy mistake, though if you looked at us in person any experienced eye would see that we were not even close to the same size, so I’m not sure what everyone was going on about. I hate even talking about this stuff, I almost never have to. But hey, part of the point of these posts is to archive the experiences and situations of fights, for better or worse.
Leading up to the fight was a lot of boring dead time. I had to get a face full of makeup and they braided my hair in a way that looked nice, but came out within a minute of the first round. Not meant for fighting. Zaza was pretty smart and did her own hair and make up I think. The guy who promoted this show also promotes the World Muay Thai Angels show, so he’s all about the blending of Beauty Pageant aesthetics with Muay Thai. At the venue I met some fans before the show, a Thai fellow who I see on Facebook all the time – huge fan of female Muay Thai and a really nice guy – as well as Martin Cotino, who is a patron and was wearing my Miss Gangster Knee short to the fight. That was awesome. But Karhuhat, who can be chronically late, was very late to arrive for this show and I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to be there. It just so happened that Sangtiennoi, who I’d filmed a Patreon session with not long ago also had a fighter on the show. I asked him if he could corner for me in a pinch. He agreed with that nice smile of his and had one of his western fighters help with my oil massage, which was really generous of the whole team to help me out. I wrapped my own hands and was moments away from getting “on deck” when Karuhat appeared. Sangtiennoi was surprised to see who I’d been waiting for when I told him not to worry about cornering for me afterall; and the promoter’s jaw dropped when he saw who my corner was as well, which I loved. A friend of Karuhat’s happened to be at the show, just coincidentally, a woman who had lived in America for a while with her husband. She was there with her young daughter and having her and the little girl in my corner also felt great. It’s rare for me to have women in my corner. So hear I was with a hodgepodge of a corner, a sudden mix of an all-time legend and a woman who I just met, about to face a former WPMF world champion giving up maybe 8 kilos (17 lbs) in the ring. Take a breath.
I wish the fight had been different, but I had underestimated how difficult the height and weight difference would be in a 3 round fight. Karuhat insisted that in a 5 round fight I could have won as the tide was starting to turn as she was beginning to tire, but it wasn’t a 5 round fight and by round 2 I was already frustrated and showing it. It’s just fucking impossibly hard to keep closing space on a tall, big opponent in this case. I made bad choices, hopping out so that I had to constantly reset, and the referee broke the clinch anytime I got a slightly dominant position, so I was constantly having to start over. An additional feature of this fight was that the ref was Peach, a former female fighter, and BFF of my opponent as well. For a clinch fighter, other than the opponent, the ref and how the clinch is handled is probably the single biggest factor in a fight and chances for victory. If I’d stayed closer the whole time and controlled her arms – as Karuhat kept telling me in the corner – and really showed energy and movement once I got a good position in the clinch (so the ref could not break it) I would have had a much better time of it. As it was I didn’t handle the challenges well, I showed frustration, and they even cut the final round incredibly short (1:20 instead of 3:00). Not even 3 rounds, a small cut suffered (just taped it and fought 4 days later), this was a learning experience on several levels. The embarrassment of my struggle with Karuhat in my corner made this a fight I didn’t enjoy at all. Some days, some fights, are just not great and this was one of those for me. I came out of the fight pissed off, even though when Karuhat talked to Kevin afterward, while I was changing or something, he was actually optimistic about it. He was convinced I could have beat her if given a couple more rounds; I could not feel that on that night, but I have to trust what he saw. This is not an unfair match. Ultimately, this is the kind of opponent I need to be able to solve and regularly beat, if I am to become the fighter I want to be. And the fight, although a disappointment for me personally, was something of a Giving Tree, as it was after this fight, upon reflection, that Karuhat decided he wanted to switch me to Southpaw, and move me closer to his incredible switching fighting style. This was a huge step in my development, something I’ve been pursuing for almost a year now. You can watch the over 2 hour 20 minute video of the process when Karuhat moved me to Southpaw here if you are a $5 patron.
You can watch the entire fight video here. Or you can watch the whole fight with my audio commentary if you are a $1 or more supporter of mine. People tend to like my voice over comments, as I talk about the atmosphere and tactics. As a supporter you also get instant access to my Muay Thai Library project, an in-depth study source.
You can get a sense of the event here in my post-fight update, I sound pretty upbeat:
As a patron you can study the Karuhat progression of instruction here, some of which this fight had bearing on:
#7 Karuhat Sor. Supawan – Be Like Sand (62 min) watch it here
#11 Karuhat Sor. Supawan Session 2 – Float and Shock (82 min) watch it here
Bonus Session 1: Karuhat Sor. Supawan | Advanced Switching Footwork | 60 min – watch ithere
#20 Karuhat Sor Supawan – Switching Attack (144 min) watch it here
#27 Karuhat Sor. Supawan – Tension & Kicking Dynamics (104 min) watch it here