MMA Making Debut In Thailand After Being Blocked To Protect Muay Thai
At the time of this publishing the first MMA fight in Thailand will be taking place in Bangkok’s Impact Arena starring a “local legend” fighter named Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke. One Championship, based out of Singapore, is promoting the event. It sounds that the financial revenue that would result from the event was too large to keep MMA unofficially out of the country.
Top Muay Thai athletes can earn up to $5,700 for a fight while some athletes for One Championship can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the NYT article.
In Thailand the older members of society were concerned about MMA, not just it’s possible infringement into the connection between the culture and Muay Thai, but also because of the perceived barbarism involved. The concerns echo those of former Senator John McCain who likened MMA to “human cockfighting.”
Currently there are only plans for two Muay Thai fights a year that the chairman of One Championship, Chatri Sityotdong, doesn’t expect to impact the Muay Thai culture in Thailand. Also according to the NYT article, Chatri who used to fight in Muay Thai but now teaches MMA now believes that MMA will only help promote Muay Thai internationally because of how essential the style is to the sport of MMA.
Part of the struggle has been due to how traditional eastern markets can be. Some traditions go back centuries and fighting styles are highly entrenched in the culture. It doesn’t come as a surprise that there was a concerted, community effort to fight off a new sport that could overshadow the original sport in the country.
Maybe in the internet age and natural globalization MMA will begin to wedge further into traditional markets.