Sam-A, one of the best nak muay fighting right now, proved his elite status against Sergio Wielzen at ONE Championship. Our own Angela Lee breaks this one down. . .
SAM-A VS. WIELZEN: WEAKNESS EXPOSED BY SPINNING
Sam-A Gaiyanghadao is regarded as one of the best Muay Thai fighters in the world, and of all time. With (officially) over 400 fights, he’s won and defended his Lumpinee and Thailand championship titles. He was also awarded both Lumpinee “Fighter of the Year” and Sports Writer’s Fighter of the Year in 2011.
With all that experience and those impressive credentials, he’s someone to be feared in the ring. Despite not being particularly aggressive, he has excellent speed and devastating counter attacks.
Sam-A fought Dutch-based Surinamese super lightweight Sergio Wielzen on ONE Championship’s Super Series card, and (spoiler alert) he won via 4th-round TKO. He secured victory with a collection of brutal elbows, though his success wasn’t due to just a lucky strike or two.
Just how did he set up his victory? Let’s take a look at the significant events round-by-round.
(Thumbnail image courtesy of The National.)
ROUND 1: CRACKS IN WIELZEN’S ARMOR NOTICED BY SAM-A
Sam-A uses his southpaw left kicks both as Wielzen is coming in and as Wielzen is backing off. He lands pretty much all of them. Wielzen does not block at all. Landing so many middle kicks puts Sam-A above Wielzen when it comes to the score cards.
In the first round, both fighters are using it as a “test” round, common in Muay Thai to try to figure out the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Wielzen throws a couple explosive low kicks, true to the Dutch style, in the beginning of the round. However, Sam-A started to dodge the incoming low kicks, and this was the beginning of many missed-low kicks for Wielzen.
When Wielzen misses a kick, however, his body becomes compromised. He either leaves his kicking leg out for too long or has his body turned to the side. Many times, he even spun around.
Notice in the gif above Wielzen covering up after spinning – he knew something could be coming. And in just the first round, Sam-A saw that the spinning created many blind spots for Wielzen. More importantly, Wielzen simply did not know how to recover or defend after spinning. These blind spots will prove to be crucial in Sam-A’s favor throughout the fight.
Something else that should be mentioned is that while Sam-A did not look to engage in extended clinches during the fight, Wielzen was clearly not a good clincher (at least in comparison). Sam-A swept him a few times as they were in the clinch.
ROUND 2: VULNERABILITIES REVEALED IN WIELZEN, SAM-A CAPITALIZES
The second was very similar to first in terms of pace and striking. Wielzen continuously missed his kicks and Sam-A managed to dodge most of Wielzen’s low kicks. This has probably made Wielzen lose some morale as he does not have the same explosiveness seen in parts of the first round. Wielzen is still spinning or turning his body into a compromised position.
ROUND 3: BUILDING TO A FINISH
In round three, Sam-A starts to pick up the aggression. He changes levels really beautifully, switching between low, middle and high kicks. Every time Wielzen turns, a kick was waiting for him. If not a kick, a manhandling.
ROUND 4: WIELZEN BREAKING DOWN, SAM-A SHARPENING HIS ELBOWS
The fourth, and ultimately last round sees much more activity from both fighters.
Sam-A continues to score with those left kicks of his. Towards the middle of the round, Wielzen comes more and more forward, possibly due to the fact that he needs to score more or get a knockdown/knockout in order to win, as this is already the fourth round. Whenever they engage in the clinch, Sam-A sweeps Wielzen yet again.
Then, Wielzen steps in and it seems he’s looking to grab Sam-A in the clinch. Sam-A sees an opening and lands an elbow, dropping Wielzen.
With his confidence visibly lost, Wielzen continues to fight, but at this point, Sam-A knows three things:
- Wielzen was just dropped by an elbow, so he will be easier to knock out at this point,
- Wielzen is not great in the clinch, and
- Wielzen has a habit of turning around.
They engage in the clinch and Sam-A uses this knowledge to start throwing elbows in and out of the clinch. He also uses blind spots to his advantage by grabbing Wielzen’s back and waiting until Wielzen turns to face him to strike.
Wielzen comes in again and they engage in the clinch. Wielzen attempts to throw an elbow, misses and turns. Sam-A comes in as Wielzen is turning and unable to see, and finally throws a couple elbows that seal the deal.
- Plant-based fighter, foodie, and aspiring physical therapist. Angela is currently living in Bangkok and training full time.