Evolve MMA announced yesterday that Naruepol Fairtex had become the latest top class Muay Thai fighter to join its impress stable of instructors. Already home to the largest collection of former Lumpinee and Rajadamnern champions in the world the camp in Singapore is becoming something of a who's who of Muay Thai talent with Lamnamoon Sor Sumalee, Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn, Muangfalek Kiatvichian, Orono Wor Petchpun and Attachai Fairtex amongst the trainers and fighters based there full time.
Former WBA Super Featherweight Champion Yodsanan Sityodtong recently made the move into MMA and Orono is also expected to make his MMA debut later his year. Standing approximately 5'8" tall Naurepol has been competing consistently at around 155 lbs since taking part in the original series of Contender Asia in 2007 when he lost to team mate Yodsaenklai Fairtex in the quarter final.
Naruepol has held the Lumpinee Title and the Thailand title at 140 lbs and also appears to have held a Lumpinee belt at a lighter weight. Although he only fights ocasionally these days he is still in demand on the international scene and has beaten the likes of Marco Pique, Cedric Muller, Soren Mongtonkong and Vuyisile Colossa in recent years.
He was scheduled to fight Andy Souwer in Singapore earlier this year but that bout was cancelled at the last minute due to some concerns over the promoter's ability to pay the purses. Given his age, size and the fact that he is not fighting too regularly a move into MMA would make sense for him at this stage of his career.
One Muay Thai fighter unlikely to be having a change of career anytime soon is Buakaw Por Pramuk. He is very much in demand on the Muay Thai and kickboxing circuits and commands higher purses than any other Thai fighter. If he did want to compete in MMA he would need to spend years studying the other elements of the sport such as wrestling and BJJ and would still be unlikely to earn as much as he does at present.
His dispute with Por Pramuk over the percentage split of his future purses and appearance fees has not been settled but Buakaw is still able to command significant purses for relatively easy fights so there is no reason for him to retire. He is believed to also be considering an offer from Evolve MMA but is highly reluctant to leave Thailand where he recently set up his own camp, called the Banchamek Gym, in his native Surin.