Few countries have more extensive links to combat sports than Thailand. Some of the brightest talents the world has seen in a variety of combat sports are of Thai origin. These sports continue to increase in popularity with each passing year. New talents are continuously joining the competition. What are the most popular combat sports in Thailand?
The most popular form of combat sport in Thailand is Muay Thai. This discipline formed in Thailand. Since that founding it has become more popular across the globe. Particularly in the late half of the 20th century and the early 21st century. It is one of the most combative sports in the world. Competitors must be flexible and well trained in both striking and grappling. There are both similarities and differences between Muay Thai and boxing. The most striking difference being boxing only allows strikes with the fists.
Thai superstars have produced incredible superstars of the sport. Samart Payakaroon is regarded as one of the greatest of all time. During his career, Payakaroon won 200 of his 250 fights. Dieselnoi Chor Thanasukarn another of the greatest Muay Thai fighters of all time. This Thai native held the Lumpinee Stadium championship for four years. He only retired due to lack of new challengers.
Another form of martial arts that is extremely popular in Thailand is boxing. This is one of the oldest forms of combat sports in the world, having been around since ancient times. Nowadays, the biggest boxing matches make for huge global events. Some of the biggest fights are huge PPV attractions. For these fights, fans can make wagers with the leading Thai boxing betting sites. Samart Payakaroon was also a trailblazing star in the success of boxing in Thailand. He won the WBC super bantamweight title in January 1986 with a KO victory over Lipe Pintor in Bangkok. He was an impressive boxer, as he lost just twice in 23 professional fights.
Further Thai success has followed in recent years with Petchmanee Kokietgym. The 30-year-old is still regarded as one of the finest strawweights in the world. Currently, he is ranked second in the world by The Ring, and the best active fighter in the division by BoxRec. Kokietgym has been the WBC mini-flyweight champion since November 2020. He defeated Manheng Menayothin by unanimous decision. His fights are always huge occasions in Thailand. He has sold out the International Stadium in Rangsit and City Hall Ground at Nakhon Sawan in the past two years.
Professional wrestling is also quite popular in Thailand. Thousands of fans watching the action on a weekly basis. There is yet to be a Thai star in the WWE. Despite this, numerous Asian stars are rising in the league. Fans have been able to watch on a regular basis over the past couple of years. Two of the best Asian stars come from Japan. Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura both hold multiple titles throughout their careers in the WWE.
Asuka is considered by many to be one of the best female superstars in the world. She is the second woman to win a Grand Slam Champion. She did so after winning every major title available to her. Wrestling’s popularity in Thailand looks set to continue its rise. Viewing pro wrestling in Thailand now is easier than ever.
There is a natural link between MMA and Thailand. The Tiger Muay Thai facility of Phuket has been incredibly influential. Some of the most exciting UFC champions in recent years trained there. The success has ensured that a growing number of fans are tuning in to watch the latest action from the octagon. Two of the brightest stars to train at the facility in Phuket are Petr Yan and Valentina Shevchenko.
Yan won the UFC bantamweight championship after beating Jose Aldo last year. He is currently the reigning interim Bantamweight champion. This after beating Cory Sandhagen earlier this year. Shevchenko is also one of the greatest female UFC stars of all time. She is currently regarded as the second-best active pound-for-pound UFC star. She has been the UFC flyweight champion since beating Joanna Jedrzejczyk in December 2018 at UFC 231.
The popularity of combat sports in Thailand is only likely to continue for years to come. A number of bright new stars are making the progression into the world of various sports, which means that they will be able to inspire the next generation.