This second part of a two part series on the epic fight between Pakorn and Pornsanae on March 5, 2010 at Lumpinee Stadium. Please see here for part 1 on Pakorn’ s systematic dominance of Pornsanae in the early rounds.
The Calm before the Storm
During the first three rounds, Pakorn nullified Pornsanae’s offense with steady forward pressure. He intelligently defended Pornsanae’s punches with the modified cross arm guard and countered with hard and well timed knees. He could have cruised his way to a clear decision victory with more of the same. However, Pakorn choose to bite down on his mouth piece and trade leather with an ever dangerous Pornsanae in the fourth round.
The reason for his change in tactics is not apparent. It’s possible he wanted to make it a more exciting fight or prove a point by beating Pornsanae at his own game. He could have been caught up in the moment and his instinct to brawl could have taken over his better judgement.
Whatever the reason, it resulted in one of the most exciting rounds in all of combat sports – the climax in this symphony of violence. I recommend watching round 4 in its entirety to fully appreciate the intensity and ferocity of the battle.
While this may seem like a wild brawl at first blush, well trained fighters don’t lose all technique and tactics amidst the chaos. Within the maelstrom of punches, there are discernible patterns which explain why Pakorn gets the better of Pornsanae in some exchanges and vice versa.
A Quick Descent into Madness
The fourth round begins with Pakorn pressing forward. Pornsanae catches him with a right uppercut snapping his head back. The consummate finisher, Pornsanae turns up the intensity of his onslaught after sensing he’s hurt Pakorn. Failing to initiate the clinch, Pakorn raises the modified cross arm guard to weather the storm.
Fists of Fury – Overhand vs Cross
Pakorn begins to strike back and lands successive overland rights while Pornsanae simultaneously attacks with right crosses. Pornsanae’s punches miss their mark but Pakorn catches him flush a number of times and snaps his head backwards.
The reason why Pakorn scores while escaping unscathed is the overhand right technique incorporates a inside slip. Pakorn’s head moves down and to the left, off the center line and away from the trajectory of Pornsanae’s cross. As Jack Slack attests, “the brilliance of the overhand is that it is a hybrid technique… the overhand is an evasion and a power punch.”
Pakorn Errs – Stuck on Repeat
There are several moments in round 4 where Pornsanae is able to get the better of the action. They come when Pakorn repeatedly attacks with the same technique, without setting it up or breaking up his rhythm. The old adage of “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” doesn’t apply here. Unless you can get a quick finish, even a less skilled opponent will eventually come up with good counter attack given enough time.
As we saw earlier, Pakorn had great success throwing the overhead right against Pornsanae’s cross. However, he quickly becomes a victim of his own success. Not only has he become utterly predictable, he also begins draws his right hand to the side to load up subsequent overhands. While this gives him a little more rotational force, it also exposes the right side of his chin.
After a dozen or so exchanges, Pornsanae catches him a left uppercut as Pakorn loads up for another overhand. The uppercut snaps his head back and the overhand lands short.
Shortly thereafter, Pakorn scores four successive left hooks on Pornsanae. In the heat of battle, Pakorn begins to drop his right hand and keeps it at chest level, exposing his chin.
Pornsanae absorbs Pakorn’s punches and explodes up with a hard counter left hook. The hook lands flush on Pakorn’s chin, knocking him back and causing his punch to miss wide. Once again in the heat of battle, Pakorn begins to neglect basic defense, becomes far too predictable and gets lambasted with a hard shot.
Repeated Body Kicks
Pornsanae backs him against the ropes, overcommits and misses with a couple wild punches. Pakorn catches him with three solid body kicks. The kicks hurt and stagger Pornsanae but he presses forward nonetheless.
Once in punching range, he catches Pakorn with a hard right hook. His knees wobble and he falls back against the ropes. When a hardened brawler like Pornsanae advances, it is rarely a good idea to prioritize offense without a plan of escape.
Pakorn’s Succeeds – Controlling Range
After a furious first minute, the pace slows a little and Pakorn begins to employ more disciplined and methodical tactics. He is gets the better of Pornsanae when he controls range by attacking and fading, hitting and running, framing and using long range attacks.
Attack and Fade
Pakorn dominates boxing range when he makes a point to avoid Pornsanae’s attacks with head movement. Leaning his head back without moving his feet back allows him to stay in range to deliver quick punishing counters.
In this sequence, Pakorn lands a left hook and fades back from Pornsanae’s counter left hook. He then throws a right hook, leans back to avoid Pornsanae’s uppercut and counters with a hard right cross to the chin. By attacking and fading, Pakorn is able to land three successive punches while avoiding all of his opponent’s counters.
Hit and Run
Pakorn is also quite successful when he decides to move in and out of range. As Pornsanae stalks him against the ropes, he leaps forward with a flying knee. He pulls down on Pornsanae’s head for leverage and to keep him from backing away. To prevent immediate counterattack, he maintains a loose clinch grip as he lands.
After disengaging, Pakorn springs forward with a hard uppercut elbow which finds its way past Pornsanae’s long guard. He smartly backs out of range to avoid Pornsanae’s retaliatory uppercut. Hit and run guerilla tactics can be used effectively against a flat-footed power punching tank like Pornsanae.
Frame and Attack
In the latter part of round 4, Pakorn extends his lead hand to create a frame against Pornsanae’s head and shoulders. The frame allows him to measure distance, clear a path to the target and keep his opponent at bay.
This exchange begins with both combatants framing. Pornsanae “beats him to the punch” in the first instance and Pakorn’s cross misses low. Pakorn frames again, catches Pornsanae with a right hook to the temple and fades back from the counter left hook. The frame sets up the right hook while preventing his opponent from penetrating deeper with his counter. Even though Pornsanae overcommits on the left hook, Pakorn easily slides out of range. Pakorn frames again and scores a crisp right cross, forcing Pornsanae to skip backwards.
In this exchange, Pakorn also frames but his arm is not fully extended. The frame helps him keep Pornsanae in place to land a cross and a right uppercut. However, the bent lead arm does not create enough distance to stop Pornsanae from landing a counter left hook.
Here, Pakorn frames with both arms and shoves Pornsanae away. He steps forward and pulls his opponent into a hard right knee. In this instance, the frame creates distance and puts his opponent on the backfoot, making it safer for him to come forward with a long knee.
Long Range Attacks
As discussed in part 1, Pornsanae is most effective from boxing range but Pakorn has well-honed weapons at all ranges of combat. When Pornsanae reengages from the outside, the cost of entry is a hard head kick.
Here, Pornsanae ambles forward with hands low and absorbs a left head kick on the jaw. The kick knocks him to the side, scoring well. Pakorn follows up with a series of jabs to keep him on the outside.
Pornsanae learns from his earlier mistake. This time, he keeps his right hand by his chin, casually shrugs off the head kick and attacks with a right hook.
After a couple minutes of unabating fury, both fighters are dazed, exhausted and holding their hands low. Pornsanae casually shuffles to the left and Pakorn catches him with a beautifully placed right head kick.
It looks like Pornsanae is able raise his hand at the last possible moment to protect his chin. However, the kick still knocks him to his side and scores well for Pakorn.
Jaws of Steel
It is a wonder that both men are still standing after this round. Although Pakorn landed a higher volume of strikes, he still absorbed some devastating punches from an ever dangerous Pornsanae. He has a gritty look of triumph and thumps his chest, but is so disoriented he walks to the wrong corner.
Pornsanae has a look of pure elation as he skips away. Win or lose, he is a warrior who thrives on chaos and is invigorated by mayhem.
Both men showed incredible toughness, courage and will to win. It is easy to see why this was selected as the fight of the year.
A Return to Sanity – Out Fighting
With a solid lead on points and having proved that he can stand and trade with one of muay thai’s most dangerous beserkers, Pakorn adopts a more conservative strategy in the final round. He keeps Pornsanae on the outside with inside trips, evasive footwork and leaping rear teeps.
A power puncher like Pornsanae keeps most of his weight forward to increase weight transfer in his punches. This means carrying most of his weight on his lead leg when he advances and attacks. If Pakorn is able to disturb this supporting column, he can send Pornsanae falling forward.
The target for the inside foot sweep is the inside of the opponent’s ankle. Generally, the lower the point of contact, the more your opponent’s foot will move and the harder he will fall. Dorsi-flexing the foot of the kicking leg (pointing toes upwards) also gives it the shape of a hook. This usually helps you to better catch on opponent’s ankle and results in a more disruptive sweep.
Here, Pakorn attacks with the sweep after Pornsanae jabs. Although the foot catches him slightly below the knee, he is still able to knock the foot to the side and off balance his opponent.
Here, Pakorn hand fights with Pornsanae to distract his attention and delivers a beautiful inside foot sweep to the ankle. It sends Pornsanae stumbling forward and he needs to take a couple steps to recover his balance. Pakorn exploits this opportunity with a quick switch kick to the body.
Pornsanae is more tentative later in the round and puts less weight on his lead foot. Although Pakorn makes good contact with the ankle, with more even weight distribution, Pornsanae regains his balance faster after this sweep. Pakorn follows up with a couple crisp jabs while he circles away from the corner.
Evasive Maneuvers and Footwork
Pakorn also uses footwork to avoid Pornsanae’s advance in the final round. Pakorn parries Pornsanae’s right cross and circles to his left while pushing him away. Note that Pakorn circles out after immobilizing Pornsanae’s right hand to avoid moving into a power punch.
Pornsanae has Pakorn on the ropes again. Rather than wait on Pornsanae’s attack, he peppers his opponent with a series of pawing jabs. This forces Pornsanae to raise his guard which prevents him from attacking as Pakorn circles left.
Leaping Rear Teeps
A leaping rear teep is one of the most effective techniques for pushing back an aggressive opponent. Timed well, you can even knock your opponent to the mat. As with most leaping attacks, a miss can leave your flank exposed. Set up and timing is key.
Pakorn likes to set this up by skipping forward and backwards. This performs the dual function of inviting Pornsanae to advance when he hops back while loading his legs to explode forward into the teep.
Here, Pornsanae backs away slightly after he skips forward. To bait him, Pakorn relaxes his posture, drops his hands and backs up against the ropes, inviting him forward. He then takes a quick step back with his right foot, pushes off explosively and launches it forward to Pornsanae’s midsection, sending him back.
At the end of the round, Pakorn casually skips back and forward in the corner with his hands low while Pornsanae saunters forward. He loads his legs as he skips back into a low lunge and launches his body forward spearing his right foot into Pornsanae stomach. He catches Pornsanae unaware and sends his opponent tumbling backwards to the canvas, an ignominious end to the final round for Pornsanae.
Parting Shots and Random Thoughts
Although there was a clear disparity in skills of the combatants, there was no difference in heart. Pakorn and Pornsanae shared a most incredible round on the hallowed ground of old Lumpinee Stadium. Their bravery and courage allow us to share in their journey to the edge of madness; their fighting spirit and jaws of steel allowed them to endure.
After a difficult 2014, Pornsanae recently retired from fighting at the age of 34 to work as a trainer at the prestigious Evolve MMA gym in Singapore, employer of many former Muay Thai champions. His last fight was on February 14, 2015 where he defended his Omnoi Stadium Superfeatherweight Belt with a KO victory. A fitting end to a storied career of a most beloved fighter.
Full Fight Video
Video credit to Banana821