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Temps de lecture : 15 minutes


special report by Serge TREFEU (2024)

MMA (mixed martial arts) is a combat sport that combines many martial arts such as Muay Thai, boxing, judo, wrestling, karate, sambo and Brazilian jujitsu. This style includes kicks, punches and opponent submissions.

MMA allows fighters to use a wide variety of techniques from different combat styles, making it an extremely versatile and comprehensive discipline. MMA fights take place in a cage or ring and are governed by specific rules to ensure the safety of the fighters while allowing a wide range of combat techniques.

The difference between fighting in MMA and fighting in Muay Thai is in the use of different techniques. Although Muay Thai and MMA use fists, feet, knees and elbows, Muay Thai does not include techniques for hitting while lying down. In Muay Thai, fights focus on standing exchanges, with great emphasis on elbow and knee strokes as well as clinch techniques.

On the other hand, MMA also incorporates wrestling and submission techniques, which allows fighters to continue fighting on the ground. MMA wrestling techniques include projections, takedowns, and ground grappling techniques, such as chokes and joint keys.

Combat on the ground in MMA

Thus, MMA offers a wider battlefield where fighters must be proficient in both standing striking and ground combat, making it a very complete and complex combat sport.

In recent years, the MMA fighting industry has become world famous thanks to the famous American show «UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship)», created by Dana White (current president of the UFC). This mega show has produced world stars that compete in popularity with the many fans of boxing.

Dana White

The UFC has revolutionized the world of mixed martial arts by offering a global platform where the best fighters from around the world can compete. With spectacular events broadcast around the world, the UFC attracted a massive and loyal audience. Fighters like Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones have become iconic figures not only in the MMA world, but also in popular culture.

The most publicized of all was the Irish champion Conor McGregor, who distinguished himself both by his talent and his great eloquence during the talk shows. Other champions have also become world stars, including Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Randy Couture, Fedor Emelianenko, Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier and Francis Ngannou.

The whimsical Conor McGregor

MMA has also seen the emergence of female stars such as Amanda Nunes, Ronda Rousey, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Chris Cyborg, Holly Holm, Valentina Shevchenko, Rose Namajunas, Megumi Fujii, Gina Carano and Miesha Tate.

These fighters not only shone with their spectacular performances in the octagon, but also captivated the audience with their charismatic personalities and inspiring journeys.

Conor McGregor, for example, has garnered attention not only for his exceptional combat skills, but also for his memorable press conferences, bold statements and keen sense of spectacle. His rivalry with Khabib Nurmagomedov was one of the most intense and publicized in UFC history.

The tense press conference between Russian champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Irish champion Conor McGregor

Georges St-Pierre, often considered one of the best fighters of all time, is known for his versatile fighting style and discipline. Anderson Silva captivated fans with his fluid style and spectacular knockouts, while Jon Jones is admired for his technical and physical dominance in the lightweight division.

Among the women, Ronda Rousey was a pioneer in popularizing women’s MMA with her fast and impressive victories, becoming an icon beyond sport. Amanda Nunes is famous for beating some of the greatest fighters in history and being a double UFC champion.

These fighters have all contributed to the rise of MMA as a major sport on a global scale, attracting a wide audience and inspiring many aspiring fighters to pursue their dreams in the octagon.

The UFC dominates the hearts of viewers in Europe, America and Africa. In Asia, it is now the One Championship show that attracts more and more fans of combat sports, including MMA. Under the leadership of its founder, Chatri Sityodtong (also founder of the Evolve MMA complex located in Singapore), One Championship begins to compete with the UFC in terms of popularity, although it is not yet up to the salaries offered by the UFC.

Chatri Sityodtong

Although the One Championship offers big prizes to its fighters, these amounts can still not compete with the huge revenues that some UFC champions can reach.

For example, UFC fighters like Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov have won considerable sums, often through the combination of their combat contracts, performance bonuses, and lucrative sponsorship agreements.

Nevertheless, One Championship has distinguished itself by its own identity and values. The organization emphasizes respect, honor and promotion of various martial disciplines, including Muay Thai, kick boxing and MMA. As a result, One Championship has managed to attract world-class fighters and organize spectacular events that captivate fans across Asia and beyond.

ONE Championship MMA Champions

A UFC fighter’s minimum purse is 11,000 euros per fight, and it can reach millions of euros for the best champions.

Among the richest champions of the UFC are Conor McGregor (39 million euros), Khabib Nurmagomedov (22 million euros), Francis Ngannou (18 million euros, thanks to his match in boxing against Anthony Joshua), Anderson Silva (13 million euros), Andrei Arlovski (11 million euros), Georges St-Pierre (10 million euros) and Jon Jones (10 million euros).

In comparison, the ONE Championship fighter scholarships are significantly smaller. The lowest scholarship for a ONE Championship fighter is 1400 euros. However, the highest incomes of the great champions of this organization vary between 93,000 euros and 300,000 euros.

ONE Championship’s two MMA stars, Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez, are the highest paid in the organization, having earned approximately €700,000 for Demetrious Johnson and €550,000 for Eddie Alvarez per fight.

This disparity reflects the differences in revenue generated by the two organizations. The UFC, with its greater awareness and well-established global market, generates higher revenues through the sale of pay-per-views, broadcast deals and sponsorships.

On the other hand, ONE Championship, although growing rapidly and gaining popularity, especially in Asia, does not yet have the same financial scale. However, the organization highlights other values ​​and benefits for its fighters, such as a respectful work environment and promotion of traditional martial arts.

In conclusion, although UFC fighters can earn astronomical sums of money, ONE Championship also provides lucrative opportunities and a growing platform for fighters from various disciplines, with purses increasing as the organization gains popularity and in influence.

In Thailand, a few years ago, MMA was not very popular. Moreover, Muay Thai officials were also opposed to the martial art of kick boxing.

But when the UFC MMA culture spread across Europe began to become popular, the combat sports landscape in Thailand changed.

About five years ago, the ONE Championship, led by Chatri Sityodthong, began expanding its market in Asia, using Singapore and Thailand as command centers to compete with the UFC. This strategy made it possible to make known and popularize the mixed martial arts (MMA) in Thailand, under the banner of “Sports Entertainment”.

ONE Championship managed to attract the attention of the Thai public by integrating elements of entertainment while respecting the traditions of martial arts. Through spectacular events and the promotion of local and international champions, MMA has become increasingly popular in Thailand. The development of this sport has also been supported by modern infrastructures and quality training programs.

Today, MMA in Thailand continues to grow in popularity, benefiting from an increasingly broad and passionate audience. The success of the ONE Championship has played a crucial role in this evolution, providing a platform where fighters can not only show their talent, but also inspire a new generation of Thai athletes.

The growing popularity of MMA in Thailand has led to the creation of local organizations that offer shows combining MMA and Muay Thai matches, featuring mostly Thai fighters.

One of these notable organizations is the “Legend FC”. Legend FC is an organization based in Hua Hin that organizes mixed combat events, including MMA and Muay Thai matches. This type of hybrid format attracts a wide audience, both fans of traditional Muay Thai and fans of modern MMA.

In 2023, the first Asian Mixed Martial Arts Championship was successfully held in Bangkok.

The Asian MMA Championship was created to promote and develop local talent in MMA, it is a high level regional competition in the field of mixed martial arts (MMA) in Asia. This event brings together talented fighters from various Asian countries to compete in a professional setting, contributing to the growth and popularity of MMA in the region.

As MMA began to spread in Thailand, many large Muay Thai camps saw the opportunity to diversify their activities to meet the growing demand of this booming market. By producing fighters capable of distinguishing themselves in MMA, these camps have found a new source of income and a way to increase their notoriety.

Some Muay Thai camps have even begun to adjust their training style to include MMA techniques, attracting new talent and offering comprehensive mixed martial arts training.

As well-known MMA training centers in Thailand such as Team AKA Thailand – Located in Phuket, this center is renowned for its comprehensive MMA training program and internationally renowned coaches. It was founded by former UFC middleweight Mike Swick.

Tiger Muay Thai – Also in Phuket, this camp is famous for its Muay Thai and MMA programs, attracting fighters from all over the world.

Team Quest Thailand – Based in Chiang Mai, this center offers high quality training in MMA, Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Bangkok Fight Lab – Located in the Thai capital, this center is renowned for its MMA, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and other martial arts classes.

Fairtex Pattaya Gym is one of the oldest and most famous Muay Thai gyms in Thailand. Opened in 1971, it became a large fitness complex with a swimming pool, accommodation and a Muay Thai gym. In addition to Muay Thai, Fairtex Pattaya also offers martial arts such as BJJ, MMA and wrestling.

Kombat Group Thailand, based in Pattaya, offers packages for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Boxing, Krav Maga, MMA and fitness to lose weight. 

The Venum Gym in Pattaya of champion Mehdi Zatout is known for its fabulous Team of professional fighter in Muay Thai. The camp also has a large infrastructure for MMA.

The Marrok MMA Gym in Bangkok, the famous Muay Thai champions, the sisters Wondergirl and Supergirl, give Muay Thai classes in this camp dedicated to MMA techniques.

The famous Jitti Gym camp in Bangkok, a boxing camp opened by Muay Thai instructors who has more than 23 years of experience in boxing now also offers MMA classes.

In addition to these large centers, many traditional Muay Thai camps are beginning to adapt their training methods to include MMA techniques. This allows fighters to diversify their skills and prepare for competitions in several disciplines. The addition of these trainings in locations such as Phuket, Chiang Mai and Bangkok helps propel Thailand as a key destination for mixed martial arts in Asia.

By taking this approach, Thai boxing camp owners can not only generate more profits, but also offer new opportunities for local and international boxers.

This strategic change allows Thailand to maintain its leading position in the world of combat sports while adapting to global trends.

Thai fighters have emerged in MMA, marking their presence on the international scene thanks to their exceptional skills mainly from Muay Thai.

Notable Thai fighters in MMA include:

Shannon Wiratchai made her professional debut in MMA in 2011, becoming one of the first Thais to enter the sport. His destructive striking ability earned him a formidable reputation, and he holds the record for the second-highest number of knockouts in the ONE Championship lightweight division.

On August 21, 2020, at the ONE Championship: No Surrender 3, Wiratchai faced the great French champion Fabio Pinca (Radja Champion, WBC World Champion), who was making his MMA debut.

This fight was crucial for Wiratchai, who came out of a series of four consecutive defeats. He managed to end this series by defeating Fabio Pinca by split decision, showing his resilience and talent.

Shannon Wiratchai

Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, former Muay Thai champion with several titles, turned to MMA and signed with the ONE Championship. He became the first MMA World Champion from Thailand when he won the ONE Championship straw weight title.

His transition from Muay Thai to MMA was successful, illustrating the adaptability and skill of Thai fighters.

Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke

Pongsiri Mitsatit, nicknamed “The Smiling Assassin”, is another Thai fighter who caused a sensation in the ONE Championship. With a strong background in Muay Thai, he managed to translate his MMA skills, becoming a formidable competitor in the straw weight division.

Pongsiri Mitsatit

Rika Ishige, nicknamed “Tiny Doll”, is a Thai female fighter of Japanese origin who made her MMA debut with the ONE Championship. She gained popularity thanks to her dynamic fighting style and charismatic personality. Rika is one of the first Thai women to win on the international MMA scene.

Rika Ishige

Loma Lookboonmee (S-1 World Champion Muay Thai, 3 times I.F.M.A. World Championship) is a great fighter who made the transition from Muay Thai to MMA. She signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), becoming the first Thai fighter to join this prestigious organization. Loma made his UFC debut in 2019 and quickly caught the eye with his technical skills and determination.

Former boxing world champion Yodsanan Sityodtong (WBA super featherweight champion) transitioned to MMA under the ONE Championship banner. Known for his powerful punches, he added a new dimension to his fighting arsenal by integrating wrestling and grappling techniques (5 MMA fights for 4 victories).

Yodsanan Sityodtong

Stamp Fairtex began her career in Muay Thai and quickly distinguished herself by her exceptional talent. She has won many prestigious titles in this discipline, including national and international championships. Strongly encouraged by the success of his careers in Muay Thai and kick boxing, Stamp Fairtex decided to make the leap to MMA to take on new challenges. Her transition to MMA was handled by the ONE Championship, where she was once an established figure as a champion.

She made her MMA debut on February 16, 2018 at the ONE Championship. Stamp Fairtex quickly showed its potential by winning its first fights against experienced opponents. Her aggressive fighting style and ability to mix Muay Thai techniques with wrestling and grappling techniques have made her a dangerous competitor.

Stamp Fairtex

The champion “Somdet Sit Or” (Somdet M16) nicknamed “Rambaa” (The Mad Dancer) was a whimsical fighter known for his acrobatics and Hip Hop dances which he performed before and after each of his fights. He had a formidable punch, his boxing style was both aggressive and technical. Rambaa has had around a hundred fights in Muay Thai with seventy victories including around thirty by knockout.

After his Muay Thai career, Rambaa fought under MMA rules and was the first Thai MMA world champion!

On November 23, 2009, in Japan, in Tokyo, he won the Shooto world belt in 114 lbs (52 kg) by beating the Japanese Noboru Tahara. A belt that he victoriously defended against the Japanese Hiroyuki Abe. In the 2000s, the two largest MMA organizations were the UFC and the Shooto World Championship (Shooto is a combat sports and mixed martial arts organization governed by the Shooto Association and the International Shooto Commission). Rambaa has 16 fights in MMA for 13 victories and 3 defeats.

Rambaa with his Shooto world champion belt

These fighters not only showed that Thais can excel in MMA, but they also helped popularize the sport in Thailand, paving the way for a new generation of talented fighters.

In France, MMA has enjoyed great popularity since its legalization in January 2020. This decision paved the way for the organization of official competitions and the recognition of this sport by the French sports authorities.

For years, MMA competitions were banned in France due to concerns about the safety of fighters and the perception of the sport as too violent. This ban limited the development and visibility of MMA in the country.

MMA events are attracting more and more spectators and practitioners, and many gyms now offer MMA classes.

The French MMA Federation (FFMMA) was officially created in January 2020 with the agreement and recognition of the French state.
Through its regulatory, training and promotional work, the FFMMA contributes to making MMA a recognized and respected sport, thus paving the way for a new generation of fighters and fans.

Organizations like the ARES Fighting Championship, Hexagone MMA, and Cage Warriors have begun organizing events in France, providing a platform for French fighters to make themselves known on the international scene.

On September 3, 2022, the famous UFC organization organized its very first event in France, at the Accor Arena in Paris. This historic event marked a new era for MMA in France, attracting a large and passionate crowd. Renowned French fighters, such as Ciryl Gane, participated in the event, helping to build interest and support for MMA in the country.

Bellator, one of the main MMA organizations in the world, has also found a favorable response in France. Like the UFC, Bellator is helping to grow MMA in the country, providing an exciting and competitive alternative for fans and fighters.

Bellator held its first event in France on October 10, 2020 at the Accor Arena in Paris. This historic event marked the official arrival of Bellator on French soil, attracting a large audience despite restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fighters such as Cheick Kongo, an MMA veteran, and Yves Landu, participated in these events, gaining visibility and notoriety.

After a long period of prohibition, the MMA quickly established itself on the French sports scene, attracting many practitioners from various backgrounds, including Muay Thai.

Many Muay Thai boxers in France are turning to MMA to diversify their skills and take advantage of the opportunities offered by this growing sport. Muay Thai, with its rich arsenal of striking techniques, is an excellent starting point for MMA fighters.

One of the most famous examples is Ciryl Gane, a former Muay Thai practitioner who has become an MMA star. UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Ciryl Gane used her Muay Thai skills to make her way to the top of World MMA.

Ciryl Gane

Cheick Kongo, an emblematic figure of MMA who began his career in the world of Muay Thai before becoming a star of MMA. Cheick Kongo has won several titles in Muay Thai and kick boxing, distinguished by his striking power and his formidable technique. These skills gave him a solid foundation for his transition to MMA.

In 2006, he signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world’s most prestigious MMA organization.

During his time at the UFC, he faced some of the heavyweight division’s best fighters and built a reputation as a formidable fighter.

Cheick Kongo

Cyrille Diabate, nicknamed “The Snake”, is an emblematic figure of MMA in France. Before launching into MMA, Cyrille Diabate had an impressive career in Muay Thai (4 times Thai Boxing world champion).

He won several major titles, making a name for himself in martial arts circles with his technical skills and mastery in the ring.

Cyrille Diabate began to be interested in MMA at the end of the 1990s, a period when the sport was not yet well established in France. He quickly made the transition, combining his Muay Thai skills with grappling techniques to become a versatile fighter.

He fought in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, facing some of the best fighters in the world. He racked up several notable victories and built a reputation as a formidable striker. He made 30 fights in MMA for 19 victories, 10 defeats and one draw.

After retiring from MMA in 2014, Cyrille Diabaté devoted himself to training and mentoring young French fighters. He opened his own gym, Snake Team, where he trains the next generation of MMA fighters.

Cyrille Diabaté

Dylan Salvador (WAKO World Champion of Muay Thai and K1) who was for a time a formidable Muay Thai fighter also made a nice transition to MMA with 9 fights for 7 wins and 2 losses.

Dylan Salvador

Stéphanie Ielö Page, former great champion in Muay Thai (WMF, WAKO, WTKA World Champion) who had a remarkable career in this discipline (49 fights for 33 victories) has become one of the best French MMA fighters.

The first champion in the history of the 100% Fight organization in 2015, she has won the world title three times. She has 13 fights in MMA for 8 victories.

Stéphanie Ielö Page

Nora Cornolle, French Pro champion in Muay Thai in the two federations FFKMDA and AFMT (2018 and 2017) and IFMA European champion in 2022, has a great fight record in Muay Thai with around forty fights in the fists for around thirty victories.

His transition to MMA is remarkable with 9 fights for 8 victories. In 2023, she entered the prestigious UFC organization, in Paris, she beat the Panamanian Joselyne Edwards on points and in 2024, in the United States, she defeated the English Melissa Tonya Mullins by KO!

Nora Cornolle

Some other great figures of French and Belgian Muay Thai made the step towards MMA like Youssef Boughanem (2 wins), Jimmy Vienot (1 win), Azize Hlali (2 wins), Fabio Pinca (1 defeat) and Yohan Lidon (1 victory).

Huge MMA champions gave their opinion on Muay Thai, here are some testimonials from stars of this discipline:

Conor McGregor (CWFC featherweight champion (2012-2013), CWFC lightweight champion (2012-2013), UFC interim featherweight champion (2015), UFC featherweight champion (2015-2016), UFC lightweight champion (2016-2018))

“Muay Thai is one of the purest and most brutal forms of combat. I have a lot of respect for Muay Thai practitioners because they master the art of close combat with incredible precision. Knee and elbow techniques are particularly formidable and can be decisive in an MMA fight.”

Georges St-Pierre (UFC Welterweight Champion (2006 and 2008-2013), UFC Interim Welterweight Champion (2007-2008), UFC Middleweight Champion (2017))

“I have a lot of respect for Muay Thai. It is a discipline that requires great rigor and excellent physical condition. Muay Thai’s knee and elbow techniques are particularly formidable and can make the difference in an MMA fight.”

Anderson Silva (Shooto middleweight champion (2001), Cage Rage middleweight champion (2004-2006), UFC middleweight champion (2006-2013))

“Muay Thai is a discipline that I love. It has helped me a lot in my fighting career. The power and precision of the punches and kicks in Muay Thai are impressive.”

Valentina Shevchenko (2018-2023 UFC featherweight champion)

“Muay Thai is the basis of my fighting style. It is a discipline that taught me patience, precision and power. Muay Thai’s kick and punch techniques are very effective in combat.”

Francis Ngannou (UFC Heavyweight Champion (2021))

“Muay Thai is a very complete discipline. It helped me a lot to improve my striking skills and become a better fighter. Muay Thai’s knee and elbow blows are particularly effective.”

Siamfightmag interviewed a MMA personality to get his take on Muay Thai and its place in mixed martial arts:

Daniel Woirin has extensive experience as an MMA and Muay Thai coach, having worked with many professional MMA champions and fighters.

He coached the French team of Muay Thai during the 2002 European Championships, a competition in which France finished the most medal.

In MMA, Daniel Woirin coached for several years in the world’s biggest MMA teams, Black House MMA in Brazil and Team Quest in the United States. In these champion teams, he has coached the stars of this discipline such as Lyoto Machida (UFC light heavyweight champion (2009-2010)), Vitor Belfort (UFC light heavyweight champion (2004), Cage Rage light heavyweight champion (2007)), Dan Henderson (winner of the UFC 17 middleweight tournament, Pride FC welterweight champion (2005-2007), Pride FC middleweight champion (2007), Strikeforce light heavyweight champion (2011)), Anderson Silva (Shooto middleweight champion (2001), middleweight champion of Cage Rage (2004-2006), middleweight champion of the UFC (2006-2013)), with whom he won three belts at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)!

In France, Daniel Woirin coached MMA at the famous Venum Training Camp in Rungis where he prepared high level fighters such as Matthieu Letho Duclos (fighter of the Hexagon organization), Jorick Montagnac (fighter Oktagon), Romain Debienne (Bellator fighter) and Benoit Saint-Denis (UFC fighter).

His expertise in Muay Thai and his methodical approach to training have helped many athletes improve their performance and succeed at the top level of the sport.

Daniel Woirin with MMA stars Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva

Jerome Le Banner (Muay Thai world champion ISKA, WKN, WPMF, Kick Boxing world champion WKN, WPL, ISKA, RCFA, 111 fights for 86 victories including 70 by KO) is an emblematic figure of combat sports feet and fists. His impressive career, his punching power and his charismatic presence in the ring have made him a living legend.

He marked the history of K-1, one of the most prestigious kick boxing organizations in the world.

Jerome Le Banner has faced renowned opponents such as Ernesto Hoost, Peter Aerts, Mirko Cro Cop, Andy Hug, Ray Sefo, Rick Roufus, Francisco Filho, Mark Hunt, Mike Bernardo, Remy Bonjasky, Semmy Schilt, Tyrone Spong.

His K-1 career was punctuated by magnificent victories, epic fights, and memorable performances that earned him immense popularity. This great champion is recognized for his longevity in the sport, his ability to fight at the highest level for decades, and his indomitable fighting spirit.

Although best known for his career in Kick Boxing and Muay Thai, Jerome Le Banner has also achieved notable victories in MMA, adding a new dimension to his record with 9 MMA fights for 6 victories.

His ability to adapt his kick boxing skills to MMA has been remarkable, although his style is primarily geared towards striking.

For his last MMA fight in France, in 2022, at the age of 50, he won, despite a knee injury, against the Serbian Adnan Alic.

In 2023, Jerome Le Banner joined forces with Jérôme Bouffard to set up the KOF (King Of Fighters) organization, an event which offers amateur and professional MMA fights in France.

Geronimo, the King of K1, had terrible fights in MMA, notably against the Japanese Satoshi Ishii (defeat on points) and the monstrous American Bob Sapp (Mixed K1 and MMA fight) (Draw)
The 8th edition of the KOF MMA tour will take place on October 11, 2024 at the Zenith de Nancy

Are there many MMA fighters who will train in Muay Thai clubs to learn or improve their technique in this discipline?

Daniel Woirin:

Yes, there are MMA fighters who train in Muay Thai clubs and even in Muay Thai camps in Thailand. In Thailand, there are now camps where are taught MMA like Tiger Muay Thai, Phuket Top Team etc…

Jerome Le Banner:

Yes, of course, there are many, in Muay Thai and Kick Boxing. On the other hand, I find that Muay Thai for MMA is a little too codified, the pure Muay Thai style is too static, you need a more aerial Muay Thai for an MMA fighter. Because most of the time in MMA matches the fighters find themselves on the ground.

Muay Thai you can use it in the street, in the street there is no tatami, you can do pure Muay Thai attack or defense techniques without ending up on the ground…

I have MMA fighter friends who are now going to Thailand, the land of Muay Thai, to train specifically in MMA. They go to Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, they train a little in Muay Thai, but it is mainly for MMA that they stay in this gym

Do MMA coaches teach their students Muay Thai techniques, in addition to boxing techniques, to complete their striking technique?

Daniel Woirin:

What is very interesting for MMA fighters are all the techniques of seizure and melee to ground, they are not used enough for my taste. Also, all the techniques of elbows and knees. Muay Thai is really a complete sport for MMA

Jerome Le Banner:

Nassourdine Imavov (19 fights for 14 victories) who is in the top 5 of the UFC world ranking, ranking No. 4, he has a coach in Muay Thai for knee strike techniques, elbow strike techniques and kick boxing sequences

Which Muay Thai technique is most effective for an MMA striker?

Daniel Woirin:

I think that there is not one technique more effective than another, it depends on how you use it. The low kick are very effective but also the knees and the elbows

Jerome Le Banner:

Especially the elbow and knee strike techniques. But also low kicks and we now see Calf Kick techniques which hurt a lot.

Because most MMA fighters don’t block punches, they rarely do blocking techniques like you learn in Muay Thai. So, the strikers hit as hard as possible with a low kick or calf kick to destroy the leg of the guy in front. They hit on the thigh, knee or calf, it’s a kick where you don’t have to use the hip, it can hurt even without full power

Does a very strong ground fighter like Khabib Nurmagomedov also need to learn some Muay Thai and Boxing techniques?

Daniel Woirin:

Khabib didn’t give a lot of kicks but he did anyway, he had a good Boxing and especially a great level in wrestling. The guys were afraid of falling on the ground against him, he already had a technical and psychological advantage against his opponents…

Jerome Le Banner:

He must also learn striking techniques, it’s MMA, a mix between grappling and striking. Grappling is very energy-intensive and MMA matches often start with kicks and punches before finding the opening to fight on the ground.

It’s not the same style of kick and punch as in Kick Boxing or Muay Thai because the striker always has the fear of getting his leg caught and being taken to the ground. In MMA, it’s more aerial kick and punch techniques, you often see back kicks, jumping kicks!

In a fight between a Muay Thai fighter and a grappling specialist MMA fighter, if the Muay Thai fighter does not put his opponent KO in the first minutes, he has very little chance of winning (Ex: Match between the Thai champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon and Demetrious Johnson, victory of the American by strangulation in the second round), what do you think?

Rodtang Jitmuangnon vs Demetrious Johnson

Daniel Woirin:

I think any Muay Thai champion against an MMA champion will lose. Because the Muay Thai fighter will not stand for long, and he will be so afraid of falling that he will not be able to develop his boxing well. The MMA fighter will always have an advantage unless of course the boxer manages to knock him out quickly. But the probability is not very high, so MMA takes the upper hand on Muay Thai…

Jerome Le Banner:

A Muay Thai fighter who doesn’t know ground wrestling techniques has no chance against an MMA fighter…

Do you know many MMA champions who started with Muay Thai or Kick Boxing before their MMA career? Did you do Muay Thai or MMA too?

Daniel Woirin:

I know a boxer who fought in the Lumpinee stadium before fighting in the UFC, a Brazilian fighter. There are many who come from Kick Boxing like Alex Pereira who excels or Israel Adesanya. In pure Muay Thai, he is starting to have some too.

For my part, I started with Muay Thai, I did about twenty fights in Muay Thai in France in the 90s. I didn’t have the opportunity to fight in MMA because I discovered this sport later in Brazil. I started my coaching career in MMA in Brazil which is for me the country of MMA. For 8 years I coached Brazilian MMA fighters. Then I had a contract as a MMA fighter coach in the United States, California, the other MMA country

Jerome Le Banner:

I don’t really differentiate between Muay Thai, Kick boxing and even French Savate boxing. Because contrary to what people say, I, from the time of the Sami Kebchi (Promoter) shows, saw Thai boxing guys being crushed by French Savate boxing guys. So, I would say fighters, warriors, who become champions in MMA, yes, there are plenty of them like Israel Adesanya or Cédric Doumbe for example and others.

For my part, in parallel with my career in kick boxing, I made 9 MMA fights, two in France and the rest in Japan.

What do you think of the Muay Thai champions trying to make a second career in MMA?

Daniel Woirin:

Yes, there are several like Jimmy Vienot, Youssef Boughanem, because unfortunately Muay Thai is no longer publicized and financially more attractive for fighters. MMA is in the current trend, there are a lot of people watching MMA events. But Muay Thai remains an incredible sport, I think it still has a good future. In Brazil, Muay Thai is very popular, especially among women, there are many women who practice Muay Thai club and fight!

Jerome Le Banner:

That’s great !

I think that Muay Thai and Kick Boxing champions who go into MMA, there is a good chance that they will become hitmen. They already have the baggage in technique of kick and fist, afterward, they just have to learn, every day, the techniques of wrestling, of Jiu-Jitsu, they have to work on them daily.

I learned all these techniques on the ground with Gilles Arsene who is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion, he showed me how to position yourself on the ground and it’s always the same.

With him, every day, morning and afternoon, we trained in ground technique. I had some knowledge of the ground because I started with judo when I was younger. But then I put all my passion and guts into it kick boxing.

I also thank Gilles Arsene enormously who was a very good Jiu-Jitsu instructor, and I have a big thought for my brothers who left too soon “The Voice” Daniel Allouche and Pascal Iglicki!