MUAY Thai Against Kickboxing

GLORY 41: Dissecting Kiatmookao vs. Roosmalen

(Featured Image: Credit to Walt Zink @ Walt Zink Photography)

As GLORY continues to gain traction, more and more Thai fighters will emerge to make the transition onto the international kickboxing stage to test their skills.

Though similar in style, Muay Thai and kickboxing are dramatically different, both in techniques and rule sets.

For instance, looking back at GLORY 41’s featherweight championship fight between Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao and Robin Van Roosmalen, we saw some moves from Kiatmookao that are signature to a Muay Thai fighter’s arsenal yet still underdeveloped in the West.

Take a look at some of the Muay Thai techniques that Kiatmookao used to hold his own against the kickboxer Roosmalen:


#1: Utilization Of The Teep

The teep is commonly referred to as a push kick or foot jab.

Due to the teep’s defensive nature and low probability of an instantaneous knockout, we do not often see its utilization in the western world of combat sports. However, you will most certainly find that many Muay Thai fighters will employ the use of the teep routinely and even habitually.

A well-established teep will:

  • stop an opponent from charging forward
  • take the wind out of him
  • throw off his rhythm/combination
  • push him off his feet

Let’s analyze some of the many exchanges in which Robin Van Roosmalen tried to close the distance, only to be stopped by teeps.

When pressed, Kiatmookao teeps his way out of trouble.

ABOVE: Here we see Roosmalen successfully backing Kiatmookao into the ropes with his constant forward aggression. Kiatmookao primes his rear leg and then teeps Roosmalen.

Roosmalen refuses to budge, planting himself in his position and attempting maintain the distance between the two. He then loads up for a jab.

Kiatmookao, using the momentum from the ropes, teeps Roosmalen right in the bread basket before his jab reaches its target (legs being longer than arms). This time, with the added force, he sends Roosmalen out of punching range for another frustrating reset.

A well-placed teep sends Roosmalen to the ground.

ABOVE: Deep into the third round, Roosmalen continues his constant forward aggression. The nak muay loads up for another defensive teep. Roosmalen immediately recognizes that Kiatmookao is throwing a strike and covers up on his way in.

Roosmalen covers up correctly from a traditional standpoint, since he raises up his right leg to check a left mid-level roundhouse. His hands are in a higher guard in case Kiatmookao goes high instead of mid.

However, Kiatmookao shoots a teep straight down the pipe. Roosmalen is essentially on one leg and the teep throws him off balance onto the canvas.

 

#2: Rear Power Roundhouse

In Muay Thai, kicks are valued over punches in terms of scoring. It just so happens that the rear power roundhouse is also one of the go-to techniques to maximize damage.

The vicious power comes from the core, legs, arms, and full rotation of the body. Given efficiency of the round house, it is no surprise the majority of the Muay Thai fighters will opt to use this weapon instead of heavy hand combos.

To illustrate this point, Kiatmookao landed 26 punches and 50 kicks while in reverse; Roosmalen landed 52 punches and 24 kicks over the course of four rounds. We see a stark distinction in the choice of arsenal brought by each fighter.

Let’s take a look at Kiatmookao’s continual reliance on his rear power roundhouse over his hands when in range.

Brutal body and arm roundhouse kicks.

ABOVE: Roosmalen plods forward right into Kiatmookao’s mid-section roundhouse. Roosmalen continues to press forward into punching range.

Roosmalen opens up with a close-proximity combination that fails to deal any meaningful damage. As soon as Roosmalen takes a step back, Kiatmookao is already throwing his second roundhouse.

Roosmalen fires back with his own roundhouse that lands, but Kiatmookao is piling up the landed roundhouses faster than his kickboxer opponent can. Kiatmookao circles out and launches his fourth roundhouse right into Roosmalen’s guard.

Finally, Kiatmookao uses his left straight into a long guard to set up his fifth mid-section roundhouse.

 

#3: Neutralization With The Clinch

One of the biggest advantages a Muay Thai fighter possesses is their extensive knowledge of the clinch. It is one of the reasons why full Muay Thai rules are not implemented in GLORY or K-1.

The clinch is known for dragging fighters into a grinding war where they both struggle for a dominant position.

Although Muay Thai fighters can use the clinch as an effective way to dole out damage with their elbows/knees, the clinch can also effectively neutralize punches, as Kiatmookao demonstrates throughout his fight with Roosmalen.

The nak muay’s clinch stifles the kickboxer’s attacks.

ABOVE: Kiatmookao gets caught backing up to the ropes and Roosmalen launches a left hook.

Kiatmookao covers and immediately closes the distance for the clinch, effectively wrapping up Roosmalen and stopping the offensive.

Incoming attacks trivialized with an effective clinch.

ABOVE: Here we see Roosmalen in punching range, revving up his combinations. Instead of trading, however, Kiatmookao effectively covers up and minimizes the damage he takes.

Once Kiatmookao spots the opportunity, he shoots his right arm in for a single collar tie and slides right into the clinch to nullify the offensive.

 

Final Thoughts

Although the result of the fight was controversial due to the rules, the decision highlighted the difference between kickboxing and Muay Thai scoring.

One thing we can garner from Kiatmookao vs. Roosmalen is that Muay Thai can still hold its own in GLORY kickboxing in terms of survival. It will be interesting to see if more upcoming Thai fighters are able to show continued success with the very techniques that we strive to perfect in Muay Thai gyms across the world.

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