Why Muay Thai Needs More Showmen
When it comes to Muay Thai, the first thing that comes to mind is RESPECT.
The sport of Muay Thai is more than just a sport, it has culture and tradition. Every Nak Muay ESPECIALLY a farang, lives up to this code of honor to appreciate the tradition of Muay Thai.
For years, fighters of North America have adopted this tradition of respect and honor to pay homage to Muay Thai and it’s century old characteristics, but we now find ourselves in a generation where the sport of Muay Thai is competing with other combat sports in a race of popularity here in the states.
These other sports are undoubtedly Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing with MMA being represented by the UFC as the front-runner.
But what makes these sports SO popular in the states that leaves Muay Thai in the shadows every time? Is it the action? Is it the rules? Is it the locations? Is it the sponsors?
Muay Thai is action packed, kicks, punches, elbows and blood almost every fight. The rules are legitimate, it allows pretty much everything people want to see as far as striking and standing grappling.
Muay Thai has been all over the world, Hong Kong, Europe, Brazil, Canada and even Australia, it has even been in American ‘hot spots’ like Las Vegas or New York City. So, it can’t be a location issue.
Here is what I believe the sole reason why Muay Thai is second to MMA here in the states:
Character is what sells, personality is what makes people want to buy the pay-per-view or buy the admission ticket.
Boxing puts Floyd Mayweather in front of a camera or audience and he becomes the showman, he provokes, he taunts, he laughs and he instigates. The spectator watches him and is manipulated by his antics, despite whether said spectator likes or dislikes Mayweather, they cannot resist the urge to see him again or watch him perform.
In Muay Thai, the fighters live by a code of respect, they smile to each other at the weigh ins, they speak kindly towards their opponents during pre-fight interviews and they very rarely talk trash, they let their fighting do the talking.
Now, as a Nak Muay myself, I can appreciate this method. I can’t tell you how many times where a fight was hyped up and the hype was way more exciting than the actual fight in boxing or MMA.
Muay Thai performances have always delivered and have always been exciting, the thing is, I am more than just a spectator, I am also a fighter. This method can really only appeal to the experienced in the history of Muay Thai and it’s meaning.
The viewer of Combat Sports here in the states are already used to a certain method when it comes to fighting and that is drama.
Drama and controversy is what the viewer expects.
What if there was a fighter in Muay Thai that brought this element to the table? A fighter that has the talent, the skill and the mouth? Floyd Mayweather was never camera shy or afraid to speak his mind about his opponents, as well as Mohammed Ali, the master trash talker.
MMA has its McGregors and Chael Sonnens and Quintion ‘Rampage’ Jacksons and the Diaz brothers… all master showmen!
How is it that Bellator can sell a ‘circus fight’ like Kimbo Slice vs Dada5000?
Two fighters with fighting skill equivalent to blind folded sloths can boost Bellator numbers in views in a massive way. Because, they can talk up a storm in front of a camera and can sell the piss out of a fight.
Conor McGregor has become the highest paid MMA figher of all time, now making millions from his fights. He is a terrific fighter in my opinion but he is even a more terrific talker. He has even used these words on behalf of his antics, “It’s all business”.
That’s because it IS all business, the business of sales.
The fighter promotes the fight with controversy, confrontation and drama to entice the viewers and make them want to buy the ticket or pay-per-view. As much of a painful comparison it is, it’s kind of like the WWE, a multi-billion dollar business.
The show is immaculate, bottom line. The image, the characters, the performances and panache. Even though the WWE is more made to appeal to the younger audience, fighting is made to appeal to the older audience but still brings identical business to the table.
Muay Thai in American needs more business, it needs more showmen, it needs more character.
Muay Thai can still have the respect, honor and tradition; I believe all fighters carry those traits off of the camera anyway, but when it comes to popularity in the US on the TV screen, I feel Muay Thai needs ‘Mayweathers’ and ‘McGregors’ because at the end of the day, we are learning that tradition doesn’t sell anymore. It’s all about the business.