As if things were not crazy enough…
Six-division Muay Thai champion Saenchai uploaded a video in his Facebook account wherein he expressed his desire for a new challenge. “I feel like I’ve accomplished plenty in Muay Thai,” said the legendary Thai fighter, “I want a new challenge.”
After which, he disclosed that no less than Georges St-Pierre invited him to train MMA at Tristar Gym. According to him, they plan to exchange notes on Muay Thai and MMA. “I will teach them Muay Thai; they will teach me MMA.”
Asked about MMA sensation Conor McGregor, Saenchai was coy to mix praise and criticism of the Irishman, who will be fighting at 170 opposite middle finger-toting Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC 196 this March 5. “He’s pretty quick and agile. His punches are hard and accurate; his kicks are not that great. His hands are the real weapon,” said Saenchai. “I fought guys with his speed before, but no one with the accuracy he has.”
That sounds like Saenchai is a McGregor fan.
But, when asked of Conor’s chances against a Muay Thai fighter, Saenchai asserted, “If he were to fight a real Muay Thai fighter who has both speed and power, then he would have no chance of winning. He can’t beat ‘Thai’ Muay Thai.”
Of course, the interviewer couldn’t help but ask: If McGregor were to fight you, who would win? “Well, bring it on. I would definitely win.”
Now, let’s not forget that we’re talking about MMA here. And while the movement principle is all the rave these days, dynamic strikers like McGregor, Condit, and Cruz – most especially Cruz – have developed through the years an extensive defensive repertoire against people taking them down, keeping them there, and finishing them on the ground.
As UFC #2 welterweight Stephen Thompson, currently rounding up his week-long Philippine media tour, noted, “Everyone that I fight, I know that they’re going to do one thing: that’s to take me down. And that’s what I prepare for every time.” Thompson’s lone loss came in only his second UFC fight at the hands of Matt Brown, who took “Wonderboy” down and kept him on his back for three rounds. Since then, Thompson has never been taken down in his six-fight win streak, punctuated by his single-round beatdown of two-time Div I wrestling champion Johny Hendricks.
So, while the news of such an accomplished real Muay Thai fighter transitioning to MMA is great, we may just have to hold on to our horses for quite a bit before Saenchai actually debuts in MMA. Maybe fellow Muay Thai superstar Buakaw Banchamek would debut earlier than Saenchai, since Buakaw has actually dipped his hands in MMA training since 2012.