Sitthichai: van Roosmalen is dangerous

Despite being from opposite sides of the world, kickboxing will bring GLORY lightweight champion Robin van Roosmalen and his challenger Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong together on November 6 at GLORY 25 MILAN. 

Sitthichai recently spoke with GLORY about the fight and what he expects from the champ:

On opposite sides of the world, GLORY lightweight champion Robin van Roosmalen (34-6, 19 KO’s) and his challenger Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong (103-28-5, 26 KO’s) are in the final stages of their preparations for their GLORY 25 MILAN title showdown.

The fight is one of 2015’s most highly anticipated and, if past form is anything to go by, it will surely be a contender for some sort of year-end award. Every one of Van Roosmalen’s fights in GLORY has been a contender for Fight of the Night and/or Fight of the Year and Sitthichai’s stoppage of former champion Davit Kiria at GLORY 22 FRANCE is in the running for Knockout of the Year.

As well as the championship, there is also national pride at stake. Van Roosmalen is the epitome of Dutch-style kickboxing while Sitthichai grew up in one of Thailand’s many Muay Thai camps. Both have been trained in their respective arts from an early age – practically their infant years – and both can claim mastery of their discipline.

Sitthichai did not rate Kiria highly prior to their June encounter and had predicted a KO win. This was surprising as the Georgian is the division’s former champion and notoriously tough, though Sitthichai addressed the latter issue by crashing a fight-ending left knee into Kiria’s chest, stopping him in the second round.

“Van Roosmalen is dangerous, he’s a heavy puncher and constantly puts pressure on his opponents. He is more dangerous than Kiria because he is stronger and has more punching power. He is also tough and has good heart. He will be harder to hurt then Kiria,” is Sitthichai’s more complimentary opinion of his GLORY 25 opponent.

“I do not wish to make any prediction for the outcome of this fight. I just want to say that I will try to do my best and hope that it will be good enough to win. Victory by KO or TKO would be just be a bonus on top of that.”

If Sitthichai does see a route towards a stoppage victory, it surely involves his left leg. His sinistral lower limb is both baseball bat and meat cleaver, capable of inflicting blunt-force trauma or precision damage as required. Thrown from a southpaw stance, it has ended many a fighter’s night.

It was the left kick which broke Kiria down and opened him up for the finish in the semi-finals of their GLORY 22 FRANCE Lightweight Contender Tournament fight. In the final Sitthichai brutalized Josh Jauncey with it, though the young Canadian prospect did not go down. He ended up losing a unanimous decision, sending Sitthichai through to the Milan title fight.

Muay Thai and kickboxing have certain stylistic differences. The latter heavily limits the clinch and disallows elbows, two things which are key parts of the Muay Thai ruleset.

But there are also differences in approach. Kickboxers favor their hands first and foremost while Thais tend to be kickers. Defensively too they are different. The shinbone forms the basis of almost all Thai-style kick defense while kickboxers tend to block a lot with their gloves and arms.

Watch a Muay Thai fight and you will see both competitors raise their shin to waist and rib height to block body kicks. Kickboxers will generally block such attacks – which are much rarer in kickboxing fights than the low kick is – by covering with the far-side glove and using the near-side arm as a pillar. Against somebody who kicks as hard and as frequently as Sitthichai, this is questionable. There is a good chance of a broken or cracked forearm.

“It’s a good point. Hardly any of today’s best kickboxers block kicks the way Thais do. I think this is due to a few reasons,” Sitthichai says when the topic comes up.

“Firstly, most [kickboxers] do not have the condition and hardness in their shins that Thai’s do through years of fighting since they were very young. When they attempt to block the kicks the same way as Thai’s do it ends up hurting them more than their opponent. Especially so if their opponent is a Thai.

“Secondly, most of them want to counter immediately with punches when they are kicked. By blocking the kicks with their gloves and arms they are able to counter-attack faster, as opposed to blocking kicks with their shin or knee, which places you slightly out of stance for a moment. Usually they are able to be successful with this method because only most kickboxers do not kick as hard as Thai fighters do.

“Thirdly, I am a southpaw which means I usually kick with my back leg when fighting against orthodox stance fighters. All fighters kick harder with their back leg, it is the dominant power side. So in my case it is very difficult for an orthodox stance fighter to withstand the damage from my powerful left kicks using the glove-and-arm method.”

Van Roosmalen says he has seen some holes in Sitthichai and also has some answers for the left leg. Sitthichai’s theories will be put the test in the main event of GLORY 25 MILAN when he and Van Roosmalen meet for a fight which is scheduled for five rounds but may not go more than two or three.

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