We always hear about "pound for pound" discussions and the like, but rarely are fighters across different combat sports stacked up and compared. This post is all about a fighter that many combat sports fans probably don't even know. The ones that do, however, can appreciate just how amazing of a fighter he is.
I'm talking about Saenchai PKSaenchaimuaythaigym, or just Saenchai, a true anomaly to Muay Thai and combat sports in general. This 32 year old Thai is who I consider the best fighter in combat sports right now and probably the best Muay Thai fighter of the past 20 years. At 32 years old, he's beating the best Thais in the sport, at the same time beating the best international fighters in the sport up to three weight classes above his normal fighting weight in Thailand. He even ventured down all the way to 127.5lbs/57.8kg and defeated Penek Sitnumnoi, the Sports Authority of Thailand Fighter of the Year, and did it in dominant fashion. And oh yeah, usually every time he fights in Thailand he has to give up weight to his opponent. Against Penek he had to weigh in at 127.5lbs/57.8kg while Penek had to make 129lbs/58.5. Oh yeah, and just six days later he was in France and beat the much larger Mehdi Zatout at 143lbs/65kg. In his upcoming fight against the current Lumpinee Stadium lightweight champion Singdam Kiatmuu9, he'll have to weigh in at 130/59kg while Singdam gets to weigh in at 133/60.3kg.
It's not just the wins on his record either, it's how he wins also. Saenchai has been as dominant as he's ever been lately, as showcased in his wins over Sagetdao Phetphayathai, who he's struggled with in the past and over Penek Sitnumnoi. That's not even mentioning how much more dominant he is against much larger foreign opponents, who he toys with, throwing cartwheel kicks and shuffling in the ring. Saenchai has never lost to a non Thai before, aside from a terrible decision against Fabio Pinca, one of the best international Muay Thai fighters in the world that's much larger and gave Giorgio Petrosyan quite a fight in May. That lone "loss" is after years of defeating some of the best foreign fighters that are much larger than him, including Pinca back in 2007 and Liam Harrison twice.
Yes, Saenchai does have some losses on his record, approximately 44 according to Wikipedia. Muay Thai is not the same as any other combat sport though. In Thailand, you consistently fight the best of the best on a monthly basis. Saenchai has been doing this since the late 90s, racking up around 300 professional fights, and he probably has even more than that. You don't see this in MMA or boxing, where the best fighters fight a couple times a year at most.
One might say that Floyd Mayweather is undefeated, but really, in boxing you get to pick and choose your opponents, and he has nowhere near the amounts of fights that Saenchai has. Saenchai has fought the best more times than Floyd Mayweather has even fought. Giorgio Petrosyans' record is amazing, yes, but it's come at pretty much one weight class and not in as long of a time span, just like MMA's best. GSP won't move up to fight Anderson Silva, Silva won't move down to fight GSP and Silva won't move up to fight Jon Jones.
Saenchai's accolades aren't just at his current fighting weight range of 127.5/58.7kg-147lbs/67kg. He's been a Lumpinee Stadium champion at 115lbs/52kg and 118lbs/53.5kg. We're talking late 1990s here, where Saenchai won the Sports Authority of Thailand Fighter of the Year Award in 1999. Nine years later, in 2008, he won it again, and in 2012 at 32 years of age, he's still going on as strong as ever. Most Thai fighters at 32 years old are retired or getting beat up just to collect money, after in a lot of cases, careers that start around 8-12 years old and end with around 300-400 professional fights. It's truly an anomaly how Saenchai is still the best at his current age.
Saenchai is going to continue doing what he does, as the next three scheduled fights he has are absolutely no walk in the park. On September 7, as aforementioned he's fighting Singdamn Kiatmuu9 for the Lumpinee Stadium lightweight title. On November 10 he fights Pakon Sakyothin and on November 22 he fights Damien Alamos, the current Lumpinee Stadium champion at 140lbs/63.5kg. That's not even mentioning that he'll probably take some fights in between and clown some foreigners, as he seems to be fighting every month now, sometimes more than once.