The greatest Muay Thai fighter in the world – and quite possibly of all time - comes to UFC FIGHT PASS this Saturday as striking sensation Saenchai (315-43-2, 55 KO's) makes his GLORY Kickboxing debut.
The Bangkok-born fighting sensation – who’s name in his native tongue is แสนชัย ซินบีมวยไทย – faces French prospect Eddy Nait-Slimani (62-1, 17 KO's) at GLORY 31 AMSTERDAM 'Superfight Series' card. The action starts on FIGHT PASS at 1:30pm, ET.
Saenchai, 35, is looking to add kickboxing tittles to the dozens of belts he has already annexed in Thai fighting. He began training at the age of eight, turned pro at 14 and in following years he won four Thai championships in different weight classes at the iconic Lumpini Stadium – which for those who know their Thai boxing is an incredible accomplishment. He won every version of the Thai boxing world title and also won a Pacific region championship in traditional boxing along the way.
As far as the best records indicate, Saenchai has won 295 pro Muay Thai fights since 1988.
He is known for combining technical perfection with incredible flair. His signature move is a cartwheel headkick which has been copied by fighters in Muay Thai, MMA and kickboxing. UFC fans saw it last year when welterweight Alan Jouban deployed it in the second round of his UFC FIGHT NIGHT clash with Matt Dwyer, nearly stopping him with it.
If you recall, in his post-fight speech Dwyer paid tribute to Saenchai and urged fans to “check him out”.
“It is good to hear that some UFC fighters do like to watch me and take some inspiration from me. To be honest I do enjoy watching the UFC as well,” Saenchai told UFC.com just before boarding a flight to the Netherlands. “Actually I have been approached by some fighters already to help them with their stand-up and I might take up that opportunity.”
Asked if working with UFC fighters might tempt him to try his hand at MMA himself he replied: “Maybe. It could be possible that while training with them, they will show me some things and it might make me interested in trying some MMA fights. Who knows?”
Saenchai's mastery of timing and distance is combined with an almost sinister ability to misdirect his opponents and send them in any direction he wants. YouTube is full of highlight videos which show him pulling moves which leave his opponent wide open for the follow-on finishing shot.
Some of his favorite tricks will have to stay in the bag though: compared with Muay Thai, GLORY rules heavily limit the clinch and do not allow for a fighter to catch a kick and sweep the standing leg. Both rules are designed to keep the striking action flowing freely; not for nothing is GLORY Kickboxing regarded as the fastest-paced fight sport in the world.
He said: “Some of my favorite techniques are not allowed in GLORY but that's fine. I like to be creative in my fights so that makes it interesting for me, it's an added level of challenge. Fighting is fighting – I just need to hit him and make sure he does not hit me. I just make sure I am fit and let my creativity come to life in the ring,” he says.
“I do not spend much time watching other fights so I haven't actually seen that much of GLORY, but I have heard a lot of good things about it. I just love to train and fight and I am happy that I can now fight for the biggest [kickboxing] organization in the world. It’s a new challenge for me - it won't be easy, but that's what motivates me.”
GLORY 31 AMSTERDAM is taking place at the RAI Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands this Saturday, June 25. The 'Superfight Series' card airs live on UFC Fight Pass from 1.30PM ET and is available on demand thereafter.