Guest post by Evolve MMA, Asia’s premier championship brand for martial arts. It has the most number of World Champions on the planet. Named as the #1 ranked martial arts organization in Asia by CNN, Yahoo! Sports, FOX Sports, Evolve MMA is the top rated Muay Thai gym in Singapore.
Of all the Muay Thai stylists, Muay Khao (knee fighters) might be the most effective offensive fighters.
These competitors thrive on getting up close and personal with their rivals.
Many embrace the clinch, and have the strength, skill, and stamina to wear opponents down with some of the most devastating strikes in the art of eight limbs.
This kind of aggressive, relentless offense requires these competitors to be in peak physical condition, and many gain a reputation for being some of the most dedicated trainers.
Anyone who has ever been through a clinch class knows how hard they can be, so it’s clear that anyone who embraces this style and completes thousands of hours of the most grueling practice is dedicated to their craft.
That hard work is worth it in the ring because a lot of the most skilled Muay Femur technicians find that they have no answer for the bulldozing style of their Muay Khao opponents. Their best weapons are neutralized as they’re dragged into deep waters.
It’s a style for hardcore fans and hardcore athletes. It might not be the prettiest approach to the art of eight limbs, but there is a ton of technical brilliance to admire.
Some Muay Khao are among the sport’s all-time greats, and these are the top 5 modern-day superstars of the style.
Dieselnoi Chor Thanasukarn
There’s no better place to start than with the premier Muay Khao in the long history of Muay Thai.
Ask hardcore fans about the greatest fighters of all time, and Dieselnoi Chor Thanasukarn will be near the top of the list. Some will even have him at the summit.
At over six feet tall, “The Sky-Piercing Knee” towered above many of his contemporaries. Size does not always make a great fighter, but Dieselnoi knew how to make the most of his physical attributes.
He may not have been a master of punching and kicking, but it was usually game over if he stepped into the pocket and secured the clinch. His height gave him incredible leverage to break opponents’ posture and drown them in torrents of knees.
Plus, he often got into that dangerous position by firing his knees like spears into his opponents’ midsections.
Dieselnoi enjoyed a legendary four-year reign as Lumpinee Stadium lightweight champion, which only ended when officials stripped him of the belt and forced him to retire because they declared there was no one worthy of challenging him.
During his long reign of dominance, Dieselnoi earned his most famous win when he dropped down in weight to challenge one of his main rivals for the title of Muay Thai GOAT, Samart Payakaroon.
The knee fighter’s style was kryptonite for Samart’s technical approach, and he walked away with the win. That contributed to his capture of Thailand’s most prestigious award, the 1982 Sports Writers Association of Thailand Fighter of the Year.
Petchboonchu FA Group
No Muay Khao comes close to Dieselnoi when it comes to historic excellence, but Evolve’s own Petchboonchu FA Group boasts a list of championships that leaves almost everyone else’s résumé in the shade.
There is no fighter more decorated in the art of eight limbs. His five Lumpinee Stadium titles in four divisions, seven Thai titles in six divisions, Rajadamnern Stadium title, and WMC World Title make for a trophy cabinet that may never be matched.
Petchboonchu would not have won so many belts without an exemplary skillset and few athletes that can match his skills in the clinch.
His proficiency at close range was outstanding. He could control his opponents and neutralize their offense, then sneak knees and elbows through the smallest gaps in their defense.
Petchboonchu could also match that technical beauty by bringing out his inner beast. He was aggressive, would push the pace, and overpower opponents.
It was tough to match “The Deadly Knee of the Mekong” over five rounds. Not many men can claim to have defeated Saenchai three times.
Muay Thai World Champion Sagetdao Petpayathai from the EVOLVE Fight Team isn’t just one of the greatest Muay Khaos in history, but one of the sport’s best fighters of the modern era.
Sagetdao’s excellent knee-fighting style landed him multiple Muay Thai world championships. His style was considered extremely difficult to counter by the majority of his opponents and would lead to various honors, which include the stellar Lumpinee, Rajadamnern, MAX Muay Thai, and WBC Muay Thai world titles.
Although Sagetdao is a clinch-heavy Muay Khao, he’s able to mix it up a little bit when facing another Muay Thai if needed. He holds wins over notable Muay Thai legends and names such as Saenchai PKSaenchaiMuayThaiGym, Petchboonchu FA Group, Singdam Kiatmookao, Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, Anuwat Kaewsamrit, and Nongbee Kiatyongyuth.
Sagetdao moved over to MMA in 2017 to compete in ONE Championship. Sagetdao’s success in MMA has given other Muay Thai fighters reason to consider trying their luck in mixed martial arts.
Another modern Muay Khao great is the phenomenal Yodwicha Banchamek.
He rose to fame when he won the Lumpinee Stadium title in 2012, and went on to beat Kongsak, Nong-O, Petchboonchu (twice), and Singdam (twice) in the space of a year.
Not long after that incredible run, it looked like Yodwicha’s hype train might be derailed after Petchboonchu beat him twice, including once for the Rajadamnern Stadium championship.
But the youngster rebounded with two more wins to take his record against the most decorated Muay Thai fighter of all time to 4-2-1.
Since that series in 2014, Yodwicha has only lost three more times, and he is currently the WBC World Champion riding an undefeated streak of more than 25 fights.
Whether he’s fighting big names at home or abroad, most of his opponents simply cannot handle his pressure.
Of course, Yodwicha is deadly with knees in the clinch, but his knee strikes from the outside are probably his most dangerous weapons. He’ll push his rivals back with punches, then leap forward to land a powerful, piercing blow to the torso.
By the time he has a hold of his opponents, they’re so worried about getting kneed again, they’re wide open for some of Yodwicha’s other favorite weapons – his relentless elbows.
You may know about “The Boxing Computer” Yodsanklai Fairtex, but many fans of 21st Century Muay Thai have never heard of “The Knee Computer” Chamuakpetch Haphalung.
Chamuakpetch had high-quality boxing and a tremendous teep, but he was best known for his precision knees from long range. His trademark technique was lethal as a counterstrike and could stop rivals in their tracks if they got too aggressive.
He was as strong as a bull in the clinch too. He could ragdoll his rivals around the ring if he got a hold of their necks, and ramped up his aggression when he got the chance to unload with knees.
Despite competing against a murderer’s row of the top competition in the golden era of Muay Thai, this muay khao master became one of the most decorated champions in history with four Lumpinee and five Rajadamnern belts.
Chamuakpetch might not be as well known as some of today’s biggest names, but “The Knee Computer’s” record against the elite of his era makes him an icon of the ring.