Quick – which fighter is better? The fighter that’s 10-0 or the fighter that’s 0-10?
On the surface, it may seem obvious that the first fighter is much better than the second. But that’s not always the case.
Fight records can be overrated. Most countries do not have a cohesive or detailed system to keep track of who’s who in the Muay Thai scene, so always take fight records with a grain of salt.
The more wins someone has doesn’t necessarily correlate to their skill or their general “being better” at fighting. And the same goes with fight records. More questions need to be asked – Who were these 10 opponents this fighter won against? Were they quality opponents? Was it a fair matchup? Was the fight competitive? And how well was the fight scored? These questions can also be asked for the person with 10 losses.
If a fighter (or their team) knowingly goes up against someone who is much less skilled than they are, it will be an easy win. If a fighter goes up against someone who took a fight on a week’s notice because the original opponent dropped out, it will most likely also be an easy win. If a promoter wishes to build up someone for various reasons (the fighter is marketable, the fighter is profitable, and/or the promoter also owns the gym where the fighter trains), the fighter will have an advantage that the opponent will not. If the fighter is better adapted to a certain rule set (every Muay Thai sanctioning body has different rules), there is also an advantage.
All of the above factors can create the perfect climate for how a fighter can get to over 20 fights and still be “undefeated”. And it is usually those connected to the fighter who have the power to create those conditions. Unfortunately, the longer you are in the scene, the more you see “politics” being involved with match-making.
Now, let’s look at the fighter who’s lost 10 times. While the casual fight fan might want to boo this fighter and say they suck, there’s more to this fighter than their record. Were they purposely set up with hard fights? Were they in close competitive rounds but missed the victory by a hairline?
And then there are questions to ask about both fighters. Learning is a process that never ends, and that’s very much the case throughout a fighter’s career. Win or lose, there’s something to be learned. However, which fighter do you think learned more? Which fighter has more courage to try again?
Of course, this isn’t going to be the case for every fighter that has a stellar fight record. Some truly didn’t have anything in their favor, yet managed to get win after win. But this is the exception and not the norm. “Politics” are rampant everywhere, and the fight scene is no different.
Conclusion: Fight records don’t tell the entire story. Hard fights may end with a “loss” but it’s a long-term win for the fighter. And easy fights may end with a “win” but it’s a long-term loss for that fighter.
Some great answers were received on this matter via Instagram: