To reach a high level in Muay Thai you need to develop good timing. Timing is the difference between a strike that lands and one that gets blocked. If you don’t wait for the right moment to strike, your opponent will block you.

The head kick is one of the hardest techniques to land because the Muay Thai guard is designed to block it. Even if a fighter doesn’t see a head kick coming, his hands will be in place to absorb the impact of the kick.

To land head kicks you need to wait for your opponent to drop his hands. When you watch fighters, there are always brief moments throughout a fight when their hands are down. In order to take advantage of these opportune moments, you need to have the skill and speed to counter without hesitation.

In this clip below Panpayak showcases the importance of good timing and speed. When Sam-A throws the inside leg kick against Panpayak, he momentarily drops his right hand, giving his opponent and opening to throw the kick. Sam-A was expecting a body kick, which resulted in him lowering his guard.

The moment Sam-A throws the inside leg kick it triggers a head kick reaction.

The head kick that Panpayak threw was perfect. Only a hand full of fighters have the timing and speed required to land that kick in that brief window of time. Great setup from Panpayak for the knockout.

Watch the full fight below:


Video Credit: Timo Ruge from MuayTies

My Thoughts

Head Kick KO PanpayakThis fight was a rematch that took place a month after their first fight. The first fight was very close and Panpayak was able to win a closely contested fight on points. Panpayak didn’t want to leave this fight in the hands of the judges, which is why he was eager to go for the head kick KO.

Sam-A is one of my favorite Muay Thai fighters to watch. He has a great style that makes him entertaining and a crowd favorite. Quite often he is on the winning end of knockouts, so it is hard to see him getting knocked out with head kicks.

Whenever you see a fighter start getting knocked out over and over, you start to wonder how much left they have in the gas tank.

Knockout losses are not only damaging to the brain, but they can also mess with a fighters mind. Fear of getting knocked out again can change the way a fighter fights in the ring. Leading to a decline in a fighters performance in the ring.

To learn more about concussions read this: The Lasting Effects of Knockouts – A Look at Pornsanae

Sam-A still has the skills to be the best fighter in his division, the question is does he have the heart to continue fighting. This is a question that only Sam-A has the answer for. I hope to see him in the ring again as he is still a great talent.

Extra Notes

  • Paypayak has won the Sports Writers of Thailand Fighter of the Year in 2013 and 2014 – only the 4th fighter to ever win the award back to back. He is considered the best fighter in all of Thailand and is extremely technical.
  • Sam-A has been knocked out with a head kick 3 times within the past year. Prior to these 3 knockout losses, his only other knockout loss came in 2005.
  • Traditionally, Muay Thai fights in Thailand start off really slow in the first 2 rounds and then increase in the 3 round. Sam-A probably wasn’t expecting Panpayak to look for that knockout right away.
  • Sam-A turns 32 this year. He started fighting full time at the age of 9, which means he has been fighting for over 23 years now. I suspect Sam-A will continue fighting, but I hope he starts putting money away for a retirement within a few years. Father time always catches up to every fighter at some point in their career.