DARE 1/11 – Thailand’s First Mixed Martial Arts Championship: As It Happened


DARE MMA, Club Insomnia, Bangkok, Thailand - 25 June 2011
DARE MMA, Club Insomnia, Bangkok, Thailand - 25 June 2011
DARE MMA, Club Insomnia, Bangkok, Thailand - 25 June 2011
DARE MMA, Club Insomnia, Bangkok, Thailand - 25 June 2011
DARE MMA, Club Insomnia, Bangkok, Thailand - 25 June 2011
DARE MMA, Club Insomnia, Bangkok, Thailand - 25 June 2011
DARE MMA, Club Insomnia, Bangkok, Thailand - 25 June 2011
DARE MMA, Club Insomnia, Bangkok, Thailand - 25 June 2011
DARE MMA, Club Insomnia, Bangkok, Thailand - 25 June 2011
DARE MMA, Club Insomnia, Bangkok, Thailand - 25 June 2011
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DARE MMA, Club Insomnia, Bangkok, Thailand - 25 June 2011
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By Matt Wilson

Walking into Club Insomnia on Sukhumvit Soi 12 (on Saturday 25 June 2011) for the first DARE mixed martial arts tournament, I couldn’t help but think I might be walking into some sort of underground illegal fight club. Yet instead of seeing seedy businessmen betting over fights in a dingy basement (as seen in many Hollywood movies), I was treated to one of the most upmarket venues I’ve frequented in Thailand. The 1500 baht ticket was testament to DARE being an exclusive affair, but value for money was left in the ring. New York and Las Vegas were two cities that came to mind, yet Bangkok seemed more than apt, regarding its Muay Thai boxing heritage and that it has often been dubbed “the fight capital of South East Asia”.

More speakers and lighting than a rock concert, made the event loud and energetic and in your face. To be honest, the idea of watching fights had never really appealed to me, but the production was immense, exciting and entertaining; a show like no other.

Fights were three rounds of five minutes and within the rules set by the “Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts”. According to Jussi Saloranta, organizer of the event, the rules are “designed to protect the fighters. Basically, all techniques that seriously injure an opponent are prohibited. For example, techniques like hitting the back of an opponent’s head or his spine are not allowed. Kicking the head of an opponent who is on the ground or trying to attack the groin, eyes, and fingers of an opponent are also strictly against the rules”.

It was clear DARE made safety its highest priority. Whereas in other promotions fighters are allowed to continue with some injuries, the slightest hint of a fighter not being able to defend himself brought a fight to an abrupt halt. In one instance it appeared that although the ring doctor had given one fighter the OK to continue, the referee stopped the bout. Impressive and admirable – there was a lot of respect shown this evening.

Fighters who won fights advanced to the next stage of DARE, which is one of the first of its kind for Thailand. From what I observed usually the fighter who was well versed in many martial art styles came up as the victor. This seemed to be most evident in the fight against Black Diamond, from South Africa and Ngoo Ditty from Thailand who used various techniques to pin his opponent to the ground and pound him in the face. The South African showed great determination nevertheless and even though he was clearly outmatched his courage showed through as he managed to last 3 rounds whilst some fighters only lasted a few minutes, even seconds!

The announcer for the evening kept saying “this is the best sport in the world” and it was an absolute spectacle to watch. The last few fights were epic and some of the fighters showed such determination that within minutes paramedics were called into the cage to attend to wounds and check for injuries. Throughout the event, fighters showed each other the upmost respect and sportsmanship. Victors often prostrated themselves at the feet of their beaten opponents as a sign of respect.

For a comprehensive review of all the fights and information on the next DARE event check out the official post fight press release

For more background information on DARE events read the KhaoSanRoad.com interview with Jussi Saloranta, one of the organizers of DARE.

KhaoSanRoad.com will provide updates of when the next DARE events take place and how you can attend them. They are thoroughly recommended!

Matt Wilson is a South African journalist living and working in Bangkok, Thailand. While he’s in the Kingdom, he’s sharing his insights and experiences with KhaoSanRoad.com. He is available for all types of writing and journalism projects and can be contacted by email here.

Songkhla, Thailand

Songkhla, Thailand
Songkhla, Thailand
Songkhla, Thailand
Songkhla, Thailand

Songkhla can be found in the very south of Thailand, near the Malaysian border. Located 950 kilometres from Bangkok, Songkhla is known as ‘the great city on two seas’. Songkhla’s history and culture is quite different to much of Thailand, making this an interesting place to get to know. About a third of the population is Muslim, and most are of Malay ancestry, which means that they speak the Patani Malay language.  

Songkhla has a lot to offer, whether you are interested in history and culture, appreciate stunning scenery or simply want to chill on the beach and swim in the sea. The town is endowed with ancient ruins, arts, and places of cultural importance. Songkhla is a melting pot of Thais, Chinese and Malays and charms visitors with its unique traditions, dialect, and folk entertainment.  

To discover the area’s history, the first stop should be The Songkhla National Museum, while the Phathammarong Museum is also a great source of local knowledge. The Bronze Mermaid Statue usually appears on postcards of Songkhla and represents the Hindu-Buddhist earth goddess Mae Thorani.  

Songkhla is well known for its interesting architectural styles, which can best be seen in its temples and chedis. Some good examples are Wat Cha Thing Phra, Wat Pha Kho, Wat Chai Mongkhon and Wat Matchimawat. The city’s black and white stupas – known as Chedi Ong Dam and Chedi Ong Khao – should not be missed and Sating Phra Ancient Community is well worth a visit.  

Songkhla also contains some areas of stunning natural beauty. Top of the list are the Khao Nam Khang National Park with its jungle, caves and waterfalls and Khu Khut Waterfowl Park. As its name suggests, Namtok Boriphat Forestry Park features a large number of waterfalls and beautiful forest, while Wat Tham Khao Rup Chang is an interesting cave temple.  

Songkhla is blessed with a large number of caves to explore and mountain tops offering spectacular views over the area. A good place to start is Khao Nam Khang Historic Tunnel, while other mountains include Khao Tang Kuan, Khao Kao Seng and Khao Noi.  

There are some very pretty beaches to soak up the sun on including Hat Samila and Hat Sakom, while Hat Yai is the liveliest town and famous for fresh seafood and Muay  

Thai boxing matches. Whilst in Hat Yai, pay a visit to Wat Hat Yai Nai, which features a 35 meter reclining Buddha known as Phra Phut Mahatamongkon and the very pretty and peaceful Hat Yai Municipal Park.  

Amongst the area’s small and somewhat secluded islands are Koh Maeo and Koh Nu (cat and mouse islands) and Koh Yo, which is a very pretty island famous for its cotton weaving community.  

Of course, when it comes to eating, seafood dominates the menu. The best place to find a good selection of reasonably priced seafood is at the local night markets, where you can relax for a while at one of the small tables and watch the dramas of this charismatic area unfold around you.

Chiang Mai, Thailand


Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Situated in the north of Thailand, Chiang Mai Province is full of natural beauty spots such as Doi-Suthep-Pui National Park, Thap Lan National Park, Buak Hat Park and dozens of inviting waterfalls, among which Huay Kaew falls, Mae Sa Waterfall and Wachiratharn Waterfall should not be missed. The area is also a great place for bird watching, so make sure you bring your binoculars.

The capital of Chiang Mai Province is Chiang Mai city, which is the second largest city in Thailand and forms the focus point for travel to the north. Thousands of people visit Chiang Mai every year, drawn by its rich culture, cool climate and wide range of entertainment options.

Chiang Mai boasts over 300 temples, of which Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, situated atop Doi Intanon – Thailand’s biggest mountain – is probably the most famous. Other temples worth seeing include the ancient Wat Chiang Man, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang and the tranquil forest temple of Wat U-Mong.

The city of Chiang Mai was founded by King Mengrai in 1296, and a tribute to the great king can be seen in the Three Kings Monument. Both the informative Chiang Mai City Art and Cultural Center and the nearby Chiang Saen National Museum are good places to discover more of the area’s interesting history and you can take a course or use the facilities at Chiang Mai University.

Often referred to as the ‘Rose of the North’, Chiang Mai is a great place to lose yourself for a week or two. The Old City is a great place to explore, where surprises wait around every corner, or why not go on a cycling tour with the Chiang Mai Cycle Club.

With prices often markedly less than in Bangkok, Chiang Mai is a great place to go shopping. Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is world famous and definitely should not be missed. The quaint umbrella village of Bo Sang makes a great place for a day trip and Talat Warorot is a good place to buy local produce, with prices to match.

Chiang Mai is a good place for self improvement and there are numerous courses and classes available. This is a great place to cook up a storm in a cookery class, and meditation courses always prove popular, whilst the sporty can learn a new skill at the Muay Thai Boxing Camp.

The stunning local scenery also provides a good backdrop for a range of sports such as Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures, and both Chiang Mai Flying Club and Oriental Balloon Flights provide a new perspective on the area.