I recently did a podcast for K1anoop with Anoop Hothi. During the podcast we went over a large number of subjects revolving around the combat sports industry.
One of the subjects we touched on was why Muay Thai isn’t becoming as popular as other combat sports such as MMA and kickboxing (Glory/K1 rules).
I went over how I feel it really needs TV exposure to help bring in the sponsors and financial backers. More money in the sport could then push it to the next stage of becoming more mainstream. For that to happen though you’d need to create stars and give the public ventured interest in who they are watching, thus creating fans.
Apart from the hardcore fight fanatics many people don’t suddenly think “oh lets go and watch some boxing or MMA”. They do however tune in to see if Anthony Joshua is going to demolish another opponent or if Floyd Mayweather is actually going to be put in a position where he could lose. This is simply down to marketing and TV exposure gaining the public interest. There are many other fighters out there in different combats sports just as skilful and exciting, but your average joe has just never heard of them.
From there I went into the age old argument of Muay Thai scoring being another factor to put off the general public.
Most casual fight fans (and that’s who we need to make this sport more popular) just want to watch some fights with a pretty clear cut idea of who won i.e. I hit you more times than me and I win. They don’t want to sit there and take a course on how it’s scored just so they can enjoy the fights, only hardcore fans will do that.
I then went on to discuss how well the UK is doing in Muay Thai and how far we’ve come in understanding it’s scoring criteria. However, I did suggest that doing MT to the book is hindering us (the UK) when we fight abroad. The reason for this is that the rest of world (other than Thailand) isn’t playing by the same rule book .
Most of the time we hear of UK fighters losing on points when fighting abroad. Then later when you read up about it or finally get to watch it you’ll find that they probably should have won going by the MT criteria.
Anoop then mentioned that maybe we should look at a way to try and get everyone on the same page (the Olympics may do this but that’s for a later blog post).
Now, I’ll get to the point of what the title of the blog is about.
Muay Thai does need to do something in order for it to go mainstream and if you notice Thailand does actually recognise this. Lately there’s been a big introduction of more TV friendly events. These events are Thai Fight, Max Muay Thai and Super Muay Thai. All these events are three round fights and this is simply down to keeping the action fast paced and getting more fights during their airtime. We also now have an event in Thailand called MX Muay Xtreme which again is three rounds but the difference is the boxers wear 4oz MMA gloves.
To my knowledge Wayne Parr first came up with the concept of Muay Thai fought with the MMA gloves. Thai Fight has kind of been using this idea for a while with the Kard Chuek events (MMA gloves are covered with rope to make them look like the old style hand wraps).
Now, what will be interesting to see is, if these concepts take off in Thailand, will the MT criteria evolve?
One of the lesser scoring techniques in Muay Thai is punching. The only time punches score highly is when they physically hurt or rock the opponent.
The chances of being hurt, rocked and dropped by punches when you’re wearing 4oz gloves is going to jump up dramatically. So if this concept takes off and considering MT is mainly scored by effect, could this mean that over time the value of punching/boxing will go up in the scoring criteria?
Many things are changing in Thailand in an attempt to keep Muay Thai relevant. I know many of the western MT purists aren’t happy about it and often criticise these events. I’d be interested to hear other people’s views on this and if they think Muay Thai could potentially evolve if these events grew in popularity.
A fight from MX Muay Xtreme