The following post on how to defeat a more experienced opponent is written by Jon from MuayThaiAnalyst.com. If you enjoy this breakdown and analysis of Kevin Ross vs. Malaipet, you’ll definitely enjoy the rest of Jon’s work on his website. Also, check out part 1 of this 3-part series on “Why Malaipet Couldn’t Stop Crazy”.
Why Malaipet Couldn’t Stop Crazy
In this second article of a three part series, we examine how Kevin Ross kept unyielding pressure on Malaipet Sasiprapa during their fight.
As Kevin explained in episode 5 of the Muay Thai Guy podcast, he earned his nickname “the Soul Assassin” for his gritty grinding style.
Ross’ game plan was to stay in close with Malaipet at all times. He needed to stay sharp defensively and busy offensively while in the pocket. Ross thinks he surprised Malaipet with his ability to back him up during the fight. He credits his ability to do this to always training with bigger guys.
Ross exerted constant pressure on Malaipet by staying in close range with a steady pace, immediate counters, and interrupting counters. You can see Malaipet’s output diminish, hands drop and posture break over time, retreating further into a defensive shell.
Pacing and Distance
“Whatever the Way, the master of strategy does not appear fast….Of course, slowness is bad. Really skillful people never get out of time, and are always deliberate, and never appear busy.” ― Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings
Ross and Malaipet fought at very different paces in this match. Malaipet stays fairly still for much of the time and sporadically explodes forward when he attacks. He prefers to stay outside of range when not attacking. This gives him a little time to recover, regroup and prepare subsequent attacks. Starting from a relatively static position, Malaipet needs great speed and good timing to successfully land his attacks. This can be a difficult fighting style to main in later rounds when he tires.
Ross keeps a steady deliberate pace with consistently good output throughout the fight. Ross’ constant motion allows him to and disguise attacks into his regular movements. His strikes are not too fast or hard – rather, he emphasizes volume over speed and power.
This methodical fighting style also allows him to always keep pressure on Malaipet without gassing himself out. It is the perfect foil to Malaipet’s explosive fencer-like style as it denies Malaipet the distance and time to effectively set up his ambushes.
Malaipet mentioned on the Muay Thai Guy podcast that he took the fight on short notice as a favor for the promoter and did not have a long training camp. Ross was aware of this and the fact that Malaipet would also need to cut quite a bit of weight. The steady grinding pace and constant pressure was used to challenge Malaipet’s stamina and to use Ross’ superior conditioning to his advantage.
“Convince your enemy that he will gain very little by attacking you; this will diminish his enthusiasm” ― Sun Tzu
Staying in close range puts Ross in a good position to immediately counter Malaipet’s attacks. With thai style scoring, a technique won’t score if your opponent is able immediately land an equally effective counterstrike. It is important to have the “last word” in an exchange.
Apart from scoring, the time at which a fighter is usually most vulnerable is after he’s just thrown a strike, even when successful. If you are the receiving end of the blow, it can be an opportune time to strike back to prevent your opponent from putting you in a defensive shell. If you immediately counter your opponent’s attacks, it may also help dull his offense over time. He will naturally become a little more hesitant to take the lead as the fight progresses.
Leg Kick Counters
Malaipet fires a hard lead round leg to the body. Before Malaipet can lower his left foot, Ross lands a hard low kick to the inside of Malaipet’s right leg. The kick landed while Malaipet’s left leg will still in the air and visibly disrupts his balance, scoring well for Ross. You can see the Malaipet has better kicking speed but Ross is still able to get the with better of this exchange with good tactics and timing.
A little further into the round 2, Malaipet throws another lead round kick, this time with less commitment and gusto. The counter leg kick earlier in the round may have him concerned and rightly so. Ross fires another low kick to the inside of Malaipet’s right thigh.
Punch Combination Counters
As Malaipet attempts a left switch kick, Ross immediately counters with a right hook and body punches. Malaipet sees the hook coming and covers up and slows down his kick. If Malaipet followed through with the kick, he would eat a solid right hook. By immediately countering, Ross is also able to force Malaipet to reduce the power of the initial strike.
Head Kick Counters
Head kicks are not the easiest type of strike to land. The leg needs to travel a relatively long distance to the target, making it easier to detect than say a low kick. Your opponent has a couple quick defensive options at his disposal as well – evade by leaning back or cover up to block. Ross is able to land several head kicks during the fight because he counters moments after Malaipet’s attacks.
Towards the end of round 1, Malaipet catches Ross with a inside leg kick as he moves forward. Ross doesn’t miss a beat and delivers a right high kick. He catches Malaipet with the foot but it still snaps his head back.
Late in round 5, Malaipet throws a left hook. Ross covers up and rolls to his left while bringing his right leg up for the head kick and catches Malaipet with his foot. This is a beautiful and slick counter by Ross. While throwing the hook, Malaipet is focused on Ross’ head. To him, it looks like Ross is simply dipping away from the hook and probably doesn’t notice the right leg coming up. Furthermore, after throwing the hook, the left side of Malaipet’s chin is exposed and vulnerable to the head kick.
“The highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy’s plan” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
With immediate counter attacks, you absorb a strike to land a more damaging blow. This may not be the best tactic to use against a hard hitting opponent. Ideally, you would want to disrupt your opponent’s movements before he can finish his attack to minimize damage to yourself.
Interrupting counters are difficult to execute and require great ring vision, timing and efficient technique. Properly executed, they can go far in preventing your opponent from developing a good offensive rhythm and momentum. However, if your timing is off, you can leave openings for your opponent to exploit that wouldn’t otherwise be there.
Ross needs to have a good read on Malaipet’s movements to successfully execute interrupting counters. Malaipet has a tendency to push off his back foot and skip forward with his left knee before punches. Ross is likely cueing off Malaipet’s left leg to time these counters.
Also of note is that Ross emphasizes speed and accuracy over power with interrupting counters. Malaipet’s forward movement alone amplifies the damage of these strikes, impaling himself on Ross’ proverbial spear.
Long Guard to stop Uppercuts, Uppercut Elbow Counter to Left Hook
Malaipet readies an explosive combination of uppercuts but Ross stops the attack with the long guard. Ross protects his chin with his right arm and shoves Malaipet’s chin with his extended left arm. The long guard performs both a defensive and offensive function here. The right arm protects him from Malaipet’s uppercuts and the left hand jolts Malaipet’s head backwards stopping his advance.
As Malaipet leaps forward with a left hook, Ross also advances with a lead uppercut elbow. While throwing the left hook, Malaipet exposes his centerline and Ross catches him on the chin with his elbow. Ross keeps his right glove by his head to block the hook.
Right Hook Counter to Left Horizontal Elbow
As Malaipet explodes forward with a horizontal left elbow, Ross side steps to his left and lands a right hook to the temple behind Malaipet’s extended left arm. With lateral movement, Ross is able to take his chin out of range of the elbow while also putting his weight into the right hook – a very efficient and effective counter.
Counter Switch Kick
As Malaipet springs forward with a 1-2, Ross fires a quick switch kick to the body. The kick knocks Malaipet off balance, sending his right cross off target.
Dump Counter to Step in Knee
Malaipet steps forward with a straight left knee. Ross sees it coming and secures a grip under Malaipet left arm and over his right arm. He pivots counter clockwise while pushing up on Malaipet’s left arm and pulling down on his right arm to send Malaipet crashing down. This dump looks effortless because Ross times it perfectly (while Malaipet is raising his left knee) and harnesses his body weight with the pivot.
Part 3 of this series on Kevin Ross’ multidimensional offense will be coming shortly. Also, see part 1 of this 3-part series on Kevin Ross’ solid defense.
If you enjoyed this article, please have a look at muaythaianalyst.com for more in depth fight analysis and technique break downs.
I'm a muay thai enthusiast currently living and training in Thailand.
On my site, muaythatianalyst.com, I analyze specific tactics deployed during muay thai fights as well the strategic progression of the match.
I also break down certain muay thai techniques and distill bio-mechanical principals that make fast, powerful and effective.
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