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Getting Cut in a Muay Thai Fight – What I learned after 20 Stitches

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This was one of the many cuts I received in the ring

When I talk to people about fighting in Thailand one of the biggest concerns is elbow cuts. People are often worried that their face will get cut up in a fight. This is probably one of the biggest hesitations people fear with having a full rule muay thai fight: the lethal elbows.

When it comes to elbows and cuts, the honest answer I tell people is that if you fight long enough, you will get cut, deal with it.

Cutting someone in a fight is an art, some Thai’s will literally cut every opponent they fight regardless if they win or lose. People who are fighting foreigners outside of Thailand are more likely to avoid elbow cuts because their opponents won’t have 50+ fights under their belt. It’s like fighting a guy with a good left hook – eventually it will land in the fight, just be prepared for it.

If you are expecting to fight in Thailand for a prolonged period of time, you are going to run into good fighters who have unreal timing with elbows – something I have first hand experience with. All it takes is a split second for the elbow to skid across your face before the blood starts gushing out. For people who have never experienced this awesome event, I will summarize everything that you should expect from an elbow cut.

Getting Cut Doesn’t Hurt

If you can hide your emotions that best thing to do is smile

While the blood looks extremely scary from an outsider perspective, it hurts more to get punched in the head than to get cut. Usually you will feel a “DING” from the elbow as it grazes your forehead. If it wasn’t for the blood and permanent scarring, I would rather get elbowed on the face then get a good low kick from my opponent. You feel the blood gushing out of the wound, but it doesn’t hurt as it happens. It’s a similar experience to falling down as a kid and realizing after that you are bleeding from your head.

You have to remember that in a fight you have a lot of adrenaline pumping through your body. This is another reason why you can take a beating in a fight and only start limping around when the final bell sounds. You’ll feel your opponents punches way more than any sharp elbows to your face, even though the cuts look a lot worse.

It Affects Your Vision in the Fight

This is the worst part of getting cut. If you are cut above the eye it can have a very serious consequence on your vision. If you have a large cut on your forehead, you will see the blood spraying out of your wound in front of your eyes. It’s usually at this point you will realize what just happened. If you get cut in the last couple rounds, consider yourself lucky. Getting cut in the early rounds of a fight can have serious consequence on your vision and timing throughout the fight later rounds. If your opponent is smart, he will specifically try and land punches on the cut to further increase the bleeding and open up the wound even more.

At some points in the fight you will find yourself constantly wiping away the blood on your face, as it drips and pours down. My last fight I could barely see out of my eyes as there was so much blood everywhere. This can give your opponent a significant advantage over you if he is able to exploit your lack of vision. It’s not a deal breaker in a fight, but it’s a nuisance that you will have to deal with when it happens.

It Will Piss You Off (It Should at Least)

Every time someone cuts me in a fight it pisses me off. Not only do I realize that I will have to have stitches after the fight, I know it is permanent damage and it makes me want to hurt the guy who inflicted that damage. Thankfully, the refs in Thailand will usually let most fights go on even if the cuts look pretty vicious. This ensures that you will get an opportunity to try and get your opponent back for dealing you that type of permanent damage to your face.

Every fight that I have been cut in the refs allowed the fight to go on. As long as you show the “willingness” to fight on, they will let you. Even though I had an 11 stitch gash on my forehead and was bleeding everywhere profusely, the refs knew that a lot of people bet money on the fight and would let it play out. That being said, if you look like you want to quit the fight after a cut, they will probably stop the fight.

You Get Stitched Up At the Stadium

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Barely notice the stitches after my fight.

If you are fighting in any proper stadium in Thailand they will have a doctor/vet/random guy who will stitch you up after the fight. Because cuts are so common in fights, they know that most nights they will need a doctor there to stitch up the fighters. The one time I didn’t get stitched at the stadium was because the doctor said it was too deep and wide for him to repair – so he sent me to the local hospital to get my repairs done. Usually they will be able to repair you on the spot after your fight.

Does it Hurt? The question most people probably have is, “does it hurt when you get stitched?” My answer is no. Usually you will be so damn tired after your fight that you aren’t able to feel any pain. You can will feel them stitch you up, but it won’t hurt. Of course this depends on your personal pain tolerance.

The Stitches Get Removed 5 days Later

Once you get stitched up after a fight you will need to go to a clinic 5 days later and get them taken out. If you are hanging around the gym most trainers will offer to remove them for you, but I always opt for the clinic. If you leave the stitches in for too long you can actually cause scaring where the stitches were. So make sure you are prompt and get them removed after 5 days. Be sure to constantly clean the wounds and ensure that you are taking antibiotics to prevent an infection inside your cut. Antibiotics are important in Thailand especially when you are fighting in a ring that has blood, sweat and germs all over it.

Make sure you avoid contact for 2 weeks to allow the area to heal.

If you have a cut on your face you don’t want to get punched in the area of your wound. You should avoid sparring for a couple of weeks to ensure that you don’t further aggravate the area around the cut. Cuts can easily reopen so you don’t want to mess around with them after a fight. It’s important to give your body time to form the skin over the cut. You will notice for a couple weeks after the area will be extremely sensitive so it’s best to avoid getting punched in the same spot after.

The Scars Fade Over Time

Insert one of those cheesy lines about pain is temporary and pride is forever.

Insert one of those cheesy lines about pain is temporary and pride is forever.

If you are super worried about your cut affecting your appearance then don’t sweat it. After a few months, you will notice the scar starting to form into a white line across your face. After years the scars will start to blend in with your skin around it, only being noticeably if you are looking up close. The type of cut you get will also affect how it heals and looks after. If you have a clean cut above your eyebrow, those are the easiest to repair and will heal nicely. Conversely, if you open up a huge gash on your forehead, they don’t heal as well and are very noticeable. I mean honestly, we all will grow old and ugly eventually, so think of it as speeding up the process of aging.

Smart Tip: Use a Scar cream after the fight for a couple of months. It will help to reduce some of the scaring from your cut.

Bonus: The Ladies Love It (Except for Girlfriends)

Seriously guys, if you want to impress a girl, try and get cut in your next fight, she will probably be impressed. The next time you meet a new girl why don’t you tell her how you got your scar on your forehead and see how her face lights up. Girls dig tough guys, it’s a fact! However, if you have a girlfriend, try and avoid cuts at all costs. She will be extremely pissed that you are “ruining” your face. I’ll leave it at that.

The Bottom Line

If you plan on having a few amateur/pro muay thai fights in your home country, you probably don’t have to worry about getting cut. Cuts are most common in Thailand where they are elbow masters. These guys could probably carve a Turkey with their elbows, they are so damn sharp.

Anyone who is training and fighting in Thailand for a prolonged period of time, should expect to get grazed with a few sharp elbows. It’s only a matter of time before you walk out of a fight with some battle scars. Just remember to keep your hands high and protect yourself at all times. That’s all you can do.

About Author

In 2011, Stephen decided to move to Thailand in search of 'real' Muay Thai. After training MMA for 5 years, he wanted to focus solely on his standup striking. After gaining a few years of experience in the ring, he decided to start Muay Thai Pros with his brother Ben, to share their experiences from the land of Muay Thai. You can follow Stephen on Instagram or read about his Muay Thai journey HERE.

4 Comments

    • Most of the pharmacy’s in Thailand will know exactly what to give you if you tell them you have a cut. Ask your doctor ahead of time if you want to be prepared. It is just taken as a preventative measure in case your wound gets infected from the germs in the ring.

  1. claudggel@yahoo.de'

    Hey Man, first off great website, thanks for all of it!

    And in case suggestions are welcome: I think an entry about (minor) injuries you get from sparring and how to deal with them would really add to it.

    Peace

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