Labrador MMA fighter trains in Thailand

Derek Montague
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Earns first pro Muay Thai win while training with legendary champion

Collin Baikie (middle) poses with his coach Peter Sisomphou (second from right) and some fight promoters.

Amateur mixed martial arts fighter Collin Baikie is feeling stronger physically and spiritually. For nearly a month, between March 7 and April 4, Baikie was in Thailand, studying the martial art of Muay Thai.

Baikie, who regularly travels to Montreal from North West River to train at the Tristar Gym, had wanted to go to Thailand for years. His coach, Peter Sisomphou, is originally from Thailand, and felt that Baikie would benefit from practicing Muay Thai in the country where the art originated.

“This was planned three years ago when I first met my Muay Thai coach,” explained Baikie. Everyday we’d by training and he would say ‘I’m going to take you to Thailand to learn the real Muay Thai,’”

“Fighting originated down in Thailand. They’re like true warriors. A lot of these guys, that’s all they do: they eat, sleep, and train to fight.”

Muay Thai fighters strike with fists, elbows, shins, knees, and feet. For Baikie, who prefers striking his opponents during MMA bouts, Muay Thai is an ideal form of combat.

“Being there (in Thailand) was the best thing, it changed my life,” said Baikie.

“My coach wants me to be the best striker in the world.”

During his stay in Bangkok, Thailand, Baikie was given a opportunity few fighters could possibly dream of: training with former Muay Thai champion, and legend, Sagat Petchyindee.

Fifty-six-year-old Petchyindee is considered by many to be one of the greatest Muay Thai fighters of all time. It’s also widely believed that he was the inspiration for the “Sagat” character in the Street Fighter video game series.

Training with such a legend for several weeks was a surreal experience for Baikie.

“He didn’t train anybody in 10 years. So I was one of the first people he took in and trained,” said Baikie.

“When he trained me, he knew when I had enough. He knew when to break it down and teach me the true art of Muay Thai. Because, it’s not only just the training, it’s the mental, it’s the spiritual…”

Baikie quickly came to respect Petchyindee as a kind-heartened man who spoke profoundly and philosophically about the art of Muay Thai.

Only a couple of weeks into his trip, Baikie would put his Muay Thai skills to the test. In an outdoor ring and “in the middle of nowhere” Baikie squared off against an opponent in his first-ever professional Muay Thai fight.

“I’m getting my hands wrapped with flies zinging around me,” recalled Baikie.

“There were 500 people all watching, all bidding on me (to win or lose).”

Baikie felt nervous heading into his match. But it wasn’t the fight that made him uneasy. Baikie agreed that, prior to his bout, he would perform the Ram Muay, a traditional Muay Thai ritual dance.

“I was more nervous of the Muay Thai dancing. I had to learn the dance to be respected down there,” said Baikie.

“I did it at the fight and they actually clapped for me. I did the best I could. I was more nervous of that then the actual fight.”

The fight went a lot smoother. Baikie was aggressive right from the start. His opponent could only do so much to protect himself from Baikie’s strikes.

After knocking his opponent down several times, the match ended in an easy first round knock-out.

“My boxing was much better than his and that was the game plan,” said Baikie.

“I actually knocked the guy down four or five times, he kept getting back up. And in the last one I caught him with an upper cut and I dropped him. They called the fight off.”

For his efforts, Baikie earned roughly $300 for the victory.

The month spent in Thailand has definitely strengthened Baikie’s physical Muay Thai skills. But the experience has also enriched him culturally.

Baikie opted to stay with his coach’s family in Bangkok. Rather than relaxing at a tourist resort, Baikie learned what life was like for many people in Thailand.

“My coach’s family is really poor. So we didn’t have running water. We showered with buckets,” said Baikie.

The Labrador fighter plans to go back to Thailand someday, saying he’s come to respect and cherish the country. But in the meantime, Baikie is preparing to further his amateur MMA career.

Baikie is currently Victory MMA’s middleweight champion, and plans to make his first title defense in June.

derek.montague@thelabradorian.ca

Geographic location: Thailand, Montreal, North West River Bangkok

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