Buakaw vs. Saenchai: A Bare Knuckle Muay Thai Bout Fueled by Friendship

October 11, 2023
From: Spartacus

When monumental figures in any sport come face-to-face, it doesn’t just resonate among fans; it becomes a historical moment. This sensation is palpable as we approach the grand showdown between two icons of Muay Thai: Buakaw Banchamek and Saenchai PKSaenchaigym. Scheduled for November 4th in Pattaya, this isn’t just a typical face-off. It’s Muay Thai at its rawest – a bare-knuckle contest, the anticipation of which has sent shockwaves through the martial arts community.

Details of this much-anticipated bout have slowly trickled out, stoking the flames of excitement. Nick Chapman, the esteemed promoter of BKFC Asia, has unveiled some of these specifics. He clarified, “The rules are based on traditional Muay Thai but with a bare knuckle twist.” Essentially, the combatants are set to engage in a high-octane five-round contest, with each round lasting a mere two minutes. If the duel concludes without a decisive victor, the warriors will have to muster all their strength for an extra two-minute showdown.

While rooted in traditional Muay Thai, the new ruleset ensures an exhilarating encounter. It promotes aggressive action, allowing techniques like sweeps and throws, but limits clinches to just three seconds, aiming for that “guaranteed, non-stop action.” With both fighters in their 40s – Saenchai at 43 and Buakaw at 41, there’s no room or time for stalling. The clock will be ticking, and every second will be precious.

Given their camaraderie and frequent interactions outside the competitive arena, fans and enthusiasts are intrigued. Such mutual respect and friendship are characteristic of Muay Thai, where fighters often face each other multiple times without animosity. Saenchai’s Instagram became a sounding board for these sentiments, as a fan queried, “Why are u guys fighting? U are like brothers…..”. This encapsulates the dilemma and anticipation – how will these friends-turned-opponents handle the juxtaposition of competition and camaraderie?

The underlying motivations are subjects of speculation. Is it the allure of a lucrative paycheck as they inch closer to retirement? Or is it a testament to their unwavering dedication to the sport they love, willing to set aside personal bonds for the sake of a captivating match? Whichever it is, the stage is set for a memorable encounter.

Beyond the emotional and strategic aspects, the physical preparations for the fight, especially weight considerations, are also garnering attention. Historically, Buakaw fights at around 154lbs, while Saenchai edges closer to 147lbs. A compromise has been reached for this battle, with the agreed weight pinned at approximately 151lbs. Buakaw revealed this detail on his Facebook. While Saenchai won’t face challenges hitting the mark, Buakaw, weighing 160.9lbs for a recent bout, has his work cut out.

Peeling back their recent histories, both fighters come with impressive legacies. Saenchai’s nine-year unbeaten run was interrupted only by a recent draw against Alessio Malatesta. Buakaw, on the other hand, despite not tasting victory in his last three bouts, is a formidable force with an enduring legacy.

The strategic approach to this unique bare-knuckle Muay Thai bout is generating much debate. With the close bond they share, will they unleash a flurry of punches and elbows, despite the evident risk of injury? Or will they embrace a more strategic, yet intense, game plan? 

A recent snapshot of the duo, sharing a light-hearted moment in Bangkok, underscores the deep respect, competition, and brotherhood emblematic of Muay Thai and their relationship.

As November 4th looms, Pattaya is not just gearing up for a fight, but a grand spectacle of skill, legacy, and camaraderie. Buakaw and Saenchai, beyond their gloves and tactics, carry with them a rich tapestry of respect and competition. 

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