Firstly. A massive apology for the radio silence. This last month of training and fighting has been quite full on, and to be honest, the mental struggle of dealing with my first string of losses has left me drilling myself into the ground at training to get better and to move forward. I also realise I am missing fight 17, which is on it’s way – just waiting for the footage 🙂
Fight 18 was an interesting match for me. After coming back from my ass beating in Australia, and after requesting to fight in stadiums other than Bangla, I was matched against a tall Russian girl, in a new stadium. I was reluctant, as she had recently beaten one of my friends, although, that was a very different situation as my friend is TINY and she was lied to about our opponents weight. In addition to this, I was just beaten by a significantly taller opponent in Australia and let’s face it, my confidence was at an all time low. After a lengthy discussion with my friend, and her booming confidence that I definitely had the skills and the extra weight to deal with this girl, I agreed. I also had no intentions of making waves at a new stadium. I want them to have me back after all!
After Australia, I hit the ground running hard. I took a day to complete a uni assessment, a day to rest and clean my place, then back into training.
I was really eager to fight last month, but unfortunately with Songkran (Thai New Year) and Bangla claiming to not have any free dates for female fights, no matches came forward so we began to search in other stadiums. I definitely wanted to fight in Sai Nam Yen (Patong Stadium) and the new Chalong Stadium so our head trainer and manager reached out and got me this match.
After spending the month training for this fight, I had finally gotten back some of my confidence. We had been working new clinching skills that I was becoming more and more confident in using and I was pumping iron like my life depended on it. I felt fit and strong and knew that I could beat this girl in the clinch.
Fight day came, and after expertly destroying my hair (or should I say finally) with a new red dye, I was ready to go.
We got to the stadium and I was in awe of my new surroundings. I was so excited to be branching out and the stadium had a great vibe to it. As we walked out the back area, we walked past my opponent – she was tall – but not unmanageable tall. ‘Ok. This is fine. You got this’ were the words that rolled around in my mind. I didn’t feel nervous. oddly enough.
Round 1 began much slower than I had seen of her previous fights. I knew she was a good boxer so I was very cautious of this. I really just wanted to see how things played out in round 1. I was in no rush. Her teep wasn’t particularly strong and she relied on her boxing a lot. No follow up kicks after big combinations, and she liked to throw left kicks. Round 1 was pretty even, a few eaten punches, but nothing worse than in any other fight before.
Round 2 commences and I am struggling to find my range, although finding it easy to back her into the ropes. A little pressure seemed to go a long way. Unfortunately I was not responding well to her combinations as she starts throwing elbows. In typical Gemma tradition, I am just standing there, not turning off, taking damage. While she wasn’t actually hurting me, the problem was that I wasn’t doing anything! I don’t remember what was going through my mind – possibly nothing. Perhaps still some whiplash from Australia – who knows!
Towards the end of the round, I dropped my gloves to sweep a teep but unfortunately she comes across with an elbow to the forehead. I felt the like prick sensation, and despite never being cut before, I instantly knew it would bleed. I always thought that getting cut would hurt, but the ones that don’t cut you actually hurt more!
As I head back to the corner, I can see the looks on my trainers faces. Nothing seemed to reassure me, until Max pops up and gets down to business. I knew it was bleeding a bit because it was running straight into my nose and mouth. They didn’t even bother to take out my mouth guard as they were so concerned with the cut. It was quite funny after the fight, one of my trainers Sedtee, who I have formed a wonderful friendship with (you can see him with the pink sleeves in the corner), said to me after – “Oh Gemma. I look but I can not help”.
After the minute was out, and I had a big chunk of Vasoline holding my forehead together, we moved into round 3.
Within the first 20 seconds of the third round, she elbows the Vasoline right off my face and my forehead starts to squirt blood. Literally. I remember looking down for a second at the canvas, and seeing the spray. I wasn’t bothered. I could still win.
I start getting her to the ropes and begin to clinch and it is very clear that she is not comfortable there. I am strong enough to hold her there and really took it to her with my knees.
As I wiped my face, I accidentally started smearing my own blood into my eyes. The blood wasn’t running into my eyes but I was putting it there. The referee stops the fight to have the doctor look me over. I say to the doctor immediately “mai mee jeb. Hen dai. Chok dai. Mai bpen rai!” (I don’t have any pain. I can see. I can fight. No problem!). After seeing some terrible cuts, and extremely bloody fights I was sure that I would be allowed to continue, but in my surprise, the fight gets stopped! Needless to say I am p*ssed! How can they justify stopping this fight?
I was asked later, if I thought the betting might have played a part in the outcome of this fight. Most people are aware of the inherent issues within Thailand when it comes to betting dictating the outcomes of fights, but I wasn’t sure. How could you be? It certainly could look that way. She cuts me in round 2, then round 3 they see she that I could come back and take the win. It’s entirely possible that the betting played a part, but I will never know. At the end of the day she cut me open, and I now have to work on my elbow defence.
It’s funny what I am willing to do and what I’m not. Because I won’t lie, when I was offered a numbing agent before my stitches, I did not hesitate to say yes. I giggled as I asked the doctor to make me look beautiful again. I was super impressed by this doctor, he was very careful and spoke excellent English. He locked the room we were in so people couldn’t come in and gawk and take photos which was nice. All in all, if I am going to get cut, I hope it happens in this stadium! For my induction into the cut club, I got 11 stitches.
This fight is the first time the decision has been taken out of my hands, and after a significant defeat in Australia, it was a particularly tough pill to swallow. Even worse because I was certain I could win.
At the end of the day, I still learnt a lot. We worked a lot on elbow defences and long guard after this fight which will prove useful with some more practice. It was a good experience fight, as they all are, and I have not walked away with nothing.
After feeling sorry for myself, and incredibly frustrated by the outcome, my trainers took me out and shouted me food and a few drinks afterwards which I really enjoyed. It reminded me of what I have outside of the ring, which is a new family and new friends. A gym who appreciates me and recognises that I am truly dedicated to the sport, and good opportunities presented to me.
Losing sucks. It does. But I have to make my losses drive me, otherwise what am I doing???
I am so grateful to everyone for their support, particularly my sponsors, AKA Thailand, Absolute MMA (Melbourne), Kombat Cafe and Manage My Media.
Fight 19 post coming tomorrow!