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One of the most feared opponents in Muay Thai is the aggressive fighter.
When you face an aggressive fighter, you better be prepared for war. These guys hit hard and will pressure you the entire fight.
Learning to counter aggressive fighters is no easy feat. If you have never fought an aggressive opponent, it will take a few fights for you to become comfortable having someone always in your face throwing strikes at you.
As you read this article, it is essential to understand the difference between knowing how to counter someone, and actually being able to pull it off.
You might know how to beat a specific fighting style in theory, but you also need the requisite skill, conditioning, and mental toughness to execute the winning strategy.
This article is going to break down how you can beat an aggressive fighter.
The Different Types of Aggressive Fighters
A lot of Muay Thai fighting styles utilize aggression.
Knee fighters use aggression to press the attack and to score penetrating knees. Clinchers use aggression to push forward and force their way into the clinch. Punchers are looking to catch you with their hands. Low kickers want to destroy your legs. Elbowers aim to carve your face up like a turkey on Thanksgiving and brawlers are looking to turn the fight into a scrap.
Every fighting style presents a unique set of problems and requires a different tactic.
This article is going to talk about pressure fighters who push forward with punches, kicks, and elbows. These fighters keep up the pressure and are constantly looking to intimidate you throughout the fight.
It is essential to recognize the difference between a skilled pressure fighter and an inexperienced fighter who rushes forward. Amateur fighters will often rush ahead because of fear, instead of tactics.
If you are facing a beginner who is running forward brawling, the strategy is pretty simple: keep your hands up and let them tire themselves out.
This article focuses on aggressive high-level fighters who have mastered the art of aggression.
What Makes Aggressive Fighters Effective
While lots of fighters may use aggression, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are good at fighting aggressively.
We are going to look at some of the shared traits of the top aggressive fighters from Thailand like Saeksan, Pornsanae, and Yodlekphet. While each of these guys has a unique style, there are some common traits that they all share.
If you haven’t seen these guys fight, here are some highlights of them in action.
Trait #1 – Knockout Power
The first trait that skilled, aggressive fighters possess is knockout power.
If you analyze the records of aggressive high-level fighters, you will notice that most of these fighters have high knockout rates compared to regular fighters.
The ability to put their opponents on the canvas with a single strike allows them to win fights against more skilled opponents. They often spend five rounds hunting for the perfect shot, that can drop their opponent.
Because these fighters often have a reputation for being knockout artists, it gives them a psychological advantage over many opponents. Knowing that one mistake can lead to a knockout, can create more fear before you go into a fight. This added fear can help give aggressive fighters a psychological advantage against fighters who don’t like getting hit.
Trait #2 – A Strong Cardio System
The most effective aggressive fighters can push the pace and stay in your face throughout the fight. They don’t back off after they have struck. They keep stalking forward, continually hunting that knockout punch.
The added stress from their pressure and their relentless attack can often break opponents who don’t have a cardio system to keep up with them.
Because their opponents are often more technical, they need try to outwork their opponents and get them tired.
If they can tire out their opponent, that will give them more openings to land knockout shots. A trained cardio system allows them to fight their style efficiently.
In Thailand, it is common to see aggressive fighters lose the first few rounds of a fight and win the by knockout in the later rounds. This is usually because they will grind down their opponent with heavy shots, which start to slow them down later on.
#3 – The Ability to Take Damage
Because pressure fighters are continually walking forward, they end up absorbing a lot of shots throughout the fight. To dish out the punishment, they end up receiving lots of damage throughout the fight.
Aggressive fighters will take damage for five rounds, and often win by inflicting more damage on their opponents. In order to be effective, they need a strong chin that can take hard shots without getting knocked out.
Good aggressive fighters will often go to war with every opponent they face. This ability to battle through wars requires a strong body that can take punishment.
In the twilight of an aggressive fighters career, they often get knocked more often because their brains can’t take any more damage.
Fighting with the style is not good for a long career, but it makes for the most exciting fights to watch as a fan.
Trait #4 – A Strong Mind
The last trait that aggressive high-level fighters possess is mental toughness. These fighters can push through any pain or suffering in the ring and keep walking forward. No matter how many shots they take in a fight, they keep on pushing the pace.
You will never see an aggressive fighter quit. They don’t understand the word giving up. They have been trained to keep fighting until the end – a trait which makes them dangerous until the final round ends.
These fighters often have a mental advantage over opponents because they are so used to going to battle.
Understanding the Mindset of a Hunter
Aggressive fighters are natural hunters. They will test your defense the entire fight, looking for a way to break through.
These fighters are like sharks in the water searching for blood. The moment they sense you are hurt or afraid, they will pounce. They gain strength when they sense fear. This is why you will see them quickly finish off fighters who break under the mental stress of being stalked.
The moment an opponent gets wobbled, they will rush forward as they attempt to finish off their next victim.
An encounter with good aggressive fighters is like facing a wild bear that is charging you in the wild. If you act like prey and show that you are scared, a charging bear will pursue you because they sense weakness. The only defense you have against a wild bear charging you is to hold your ground and be defiant in the face of danger.
While holding your ground may not win you the fight in Muay Thai, it will give you the best chance of having a competitive match.
When you face an aggressive fighter your mental game needs to be on point. If you can master the mental game, you can take away any psychological advantage an aggressive fighter has.
At the highest levels of the sport, fighting is mostly mental. All fighters have the same ability to use their techniques, but it is how a fighter uses those learned skills that will determine the winner of the fight.
You can give a beginner the best mental approach in the world, and it won’t change the fact that they will lose against an experienced opponent with more skill.
The mental game comes into play when you take two fighters who have a similar level of experience and skill. If a promoter does their job and makes a competitive matchup, it is often the fighter who has the stronger mental game that will win the fight.
How to Beat Aggressive Fighters
To beat aggressive fighters, it is essential that you have confidence in your abilities. Without belief, you have no chance of winning any fight.
Be Confident Your Abilities
The best way to take the steam out of an aggressive fighter is confidence. You need to trust in your preparation leading up to the fight and your ability to take hard shots.
If you don’t have confidence that you can withstand a hard flurry from your opponent, it will cause you to fight scared. When you fight afraid, you will become tense and everything will speed up around you.
While some fear is always present in the ring, too much fear can cripple you and prevent you from fighting for your potential.
While it’s easy for me to tell you, “be confident in the face of danger,” the reality is that confidence can’t be faked. If you are not confident in your ability, no amount of window dressing is going to make you have belief in yourself. Good fighters can sense fake smiles and will push even harder to break you.
To gain real confidence, you need experience.
Get Used to Sparring Aggressive Fighters
If you never spar with fighters who push forward and hit you hard, you will be in a rude awakening the first time you get cracked with a hard shot.
While beginners should only focus on technical sparring, when it comes to preparing for a fight, hard sparring is essential if you don’t have any ring experience.
Sparring is where you learn first hand how to beat different fighters. The more times you go up against aggressive fighters, the more comfortable you will become.
You can learn different strategies on how to beat aggressive fighters, but nothing can supplement hours of sparring against aggressive fighters and learning how to beat them with your own game.
Keep a Strong Guard
When you face someone who has knockout power, your defense needs to be on point. Every strike you execute should have a purpose. Don’t throw for the sake of throwing, and do not get into heavy-handed exchanges.
A skilled aggressive fighter is going to win a slugfest because they have the chin and cardio system to keep them standing. When you swing for the fences against an aggressive fighter, there is a considerable risk that you can get caught with someone that drops you.
Without a strong defense, it is going to be challenging to make it through 5 rounds against a hard-hitting opponent.
A strong defense is going to ensure that you can take everything your opponent throws at you.
Make Your Opponent Respect You
One of the best ways to counter aggressive fighters is to make them pay for pressing forward. You need to make your opponent think twice before they swing at you.
You don’t have to throw knockout blows, but you should make your opponent respects your power.
Landing clean shots as your opponent is pressing forward, is going to take away some of the steam from your opponent.
If you only sit back and play defense, without throwing back offense in return, your opponent will have nothing to fear. They can get away with throwing anything, without any worries of repercussion.
It is vital for your opponent to respect your power in the ring. If you can earn their respect, they won’t swing with reckless abandon and will fight more cautiously.
Be Prepared For War
Since aggressive fighters are going to try and wear you down, you need to have a cardio that is going to be able to go toe to toe with your opponent.
Mentally preparing for war, is going to get you ready for everything that happens in the ring.
No pain, no gain.
In the navy seals training, they teach something called the 40% rule. This rule states that when your mind tells you that you are done, you are only 40% done. You can still push yourself far more than you could imagine.
The more experience you gain in the ring, the more you will realize that you can take so much more than you think. This is how you see fighters survive five rounds of total war, without breaking until the final bell sounds. Your mind is designed to push past pain and keep going forward.
When it comes to beating aggressive fighters, it is crucial that you understand the importance of appearance.
Whether you are scared or not, you have to learn the art of maintaining a poker face throughout the fight so you don’t give your opponent any fuel to motivate them further.
Experience is the only way that you are going to be able to truly understand learn how to stay calm in the face of danger. No amount of preparation can teach you how to deal with the fear of getting knocked out.
You can have the best strategy in the world, but if you don’t have confidence that you can beat an aggressive fighter, you won’t.
Every aggressive fighter you face is going to present different problems. The challenge that you face is learning how to utilize your skill set most efficiently to beat your opponent. Since you are going to have a unique set of skills, it is up to you and your coach, to learn how to put those skills together.
Since you know that an aggressive fighter is going to have good cardio and keep pressing forward, you need to make sure you have a cardio and defense that can match.
A hard training camp is going to help give you the confidence that you are prepared to deal with anything in the ring. Nothing that happens in the ring should be a surprise to you.
You need to make sure that you have the cardio, mindset, and skill to be able to beat an aggressive fighter.
The more tools you add to your game, the better chance you give yourself at beating any opponent.
If you want to learn more you can check out my eBook: Muay Thai Strategy. This book talks about the process of developing your fighting style and building a complete game.