Buakaw Por Pramuk and Kem Sitsongpeenong walked away with comfortable decision wins to claim the Thai Fights Tournament prizes in their respective weight categories. A large crowd had gathered at the King Chulalonkgorn Monument Square hoping to see the Thais triumph and this time all went according to plan as neither Frank Giorgi nor Fabio Pinca was able to pull off the upset.
For foreign people Buakaw has long been seen as the face of Muay Thai and his reputation within Thailand is starting to soar as he appears on more televised fights here. Thai Fights pulled out all the stops for this show with an impressive display of pyrotechnics and some elaborate fighter entrances.
The main event was the final of the 70 kg tournament between Buakaw and Frank Giorgi. There was a certain sense of inevitability about the two times K-1 winner taking home another trophy and his Australian opponent seemed a bit daunted by the task of taking on a local legend on Thai soil.Buakaw landed a left kick to Giorgi's head very early in the fight which didn't have enough power to drop the Challenger Muay Thai contestant but seemed to shake him up a little. From that point on it was a virtuoso performance from the Thai fighter punctuated with eye catching teeps to the face, hard punches to the body and head and some solid knees. Knowing that he was well behind on the scorecard Giorgi came out swinging at the start of the third and final round but Buakaw was able to successfully keep him at bay with a series of teeps and sweeps before answering with some shots of his own. The decision was not a difficult one for the judges who made Buakaw the second Thai fighter to win a Thai Fights tournament. The first had been crowned a few minutes previously when Kem comfortably outpointed Fabio Pinca. The French fighter was swept in the opening seconds of the first round as Kem established a lead on the scorecards which he never looked like losing. It's possible the gameplan for Pinca was to try and earn a knock out in the final round but by that stage it was easy for the Thai fighter to avoid his punches and counter efficiently enough to preserve his points advantage. The televised broadcast began with Richie Green fighting for the second time in a week against former WMC Champion Berneung Topkingboxing. The English fighter has enjoyed some success on the Phuket circuit but struggled with the strength and power of a top Thai opponent. Green was able to use his superior height to land long knees consistently throughout the fight but he was on the receiving end of a non stop barrage of punches and elbows which finally took their toll in the third round forcing him to take a knee. To his credit he got to his feet and continued to move forward but by this stage Berneung was picking him off almost at will and landing some brutal shots in the the process and Green would have been relieved to hear the bell at the end of the third round. It was a similar story for Hicham Chaibi who was well beaten by Saiyok Punpanmuang. Chaibi did pose the hard hitting Thai some problems in the first half of the fight but once Saiyok found his rhythm he raced ahead landing multiple kicks to the lead leg and body of his opponent from the southpaw stance.
Last year Fabio Pinca won the inaugural Thai Fights tournament but this time around pride was restored as both the Thai fighters demonstrated emphatically that the top Muay Thai practitioners still hail from the Kingdom of Thailand.
Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His first novel, the Godslayer, is available now.