Have you ever wondered who is the best Muay Thai fighter in the world? Tons of different answers are floating around the internet. Some are ranking lists and fight records. Others are videos and fight discussions. They all look credible and rational. However, do you know the criteria to rank these fighters?
Muay Thai rankings are similar to those of international boxing. Fighters are separated into weight groups, like Flyweight, Welterweight, and Middleweight. Moreover, each fighting stadium/program has its own record with different criteria. So, the global No.1 title is still up for debate.
Now that you know the general criteria, it’s time to see how they order all the fighters. Read on and discover the ins and outs of the Muay Thai ranking system.
How does Muay Thai rankings work?
Before diving further, let’s tune up your understanding.
As mentioned, there are mountains of Muay Thai ranking in this world. And that means the criteria for one list may differ from another. List A might look at 3 criteria, while List B looks at 5. So, it’s natural that your favorite fighter will appear on a different number on each ranking.
However, general criteria like weight or body size are usually the same.
In this article, the criteria discussed will be based on ONE Championship’s method. They have the most layman-friendly explanation of their ranking system compared to other organizers/stadiums.
Now. Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. The weight criteria in Muay Thai is pretty much a copy of international boxing.
In general, there are 15 weight divisions in Muay Thai. (Source)
- Mini Flyweight: < 104 lbs
- Junior Flyweight: 105 – 108 lbs
- Flyweight: 109 – 112 lbs
- Junior Bantamweight: 113 – 115 lbs
- Bantamweight: 116 – 118 lbs
- Junior Featherweight: 119 – 122 lbs
- Featherweight: 123 – 126 lbs
- Junior Lightweight: 127 – 130 lbs
- Lightweight: 131 – 135 lbs
- Junior Welterweight: 136 – 140 lbs
- Welterweight: 141 – 147 lbs
- Junior Middleweight: 148 – 154 lbs
- Middleweight: 155 – 160 lbs
- Light Heavyweight: 161 – 175 lbs
- Cruiserweight: 176 – 190 lbs
- Heavyweight: >191 lbs
But here’s the thing. You might have heard that Featherweight is a different number, or 126 lbs is called Flyweight.
Well, you are not wrong. Different event organizers (especially in Thailand) call each weight range differently. For example, ONE championship calls 126 lbs or below Flyweight, but Ratchadamnoen Stadium calls the same weight range Featherweight.
In essence, you can see them as the same thing. It’s better to just ignore the naming issues and use weight range as the universal criteria.
In the ranking system, fighters will be ranked among opponents of the same division. Middleweight fighters will not appear in the Featherweight or Heavyweight ranking.
The reason for that is simple. The heavier you are, the more force you can generate (f = ma, elementary physics). It’s unfair to rank the lighter-weight fighters against the heavier ones.
You should know this concept well if you watch soccer (football), football, tennis, or any other sports.
Fight record is pretty much the number of wins VS losses. If you win often, you’ll rank higher. But if you lose frequently, your rank will drop. And that’s it. This criterion is quite self-explanatory. So, let’s move on.
Now, this criterion might be a bit ambiguous and opinionated. Why? Because it’s based on the judges’ personal thoughts.
Match quality refers to the fighter’s performance in each match compared to the opponent. This can include forms, stances, techniques, impacts, and strategies.
It is determined separately from the fight record since you can have a superb performance but end up losing in the end. Even Though you’re knocked out in the 5th round, you can still be ranked higher than the winner since you dominate the first 4 bouts.
The opposite also holds true. Winning with terrible performance is not going to boost your rank much.
Now, here’s the problem. The judges can be biased in this regard.
They might be generous with one technique more than others or prefer certain fighting styles more than the rest. That’s why most event organizers invite diverse critics, gurus, and athletes to form the judging panel. This prevents the ranking from being one-sided and unfair.
Holding the Champion belt doesn’t guarantee the No.1 spot
Champion titles only certify that you have the most wins in an event.
Ranking, however, focuses on the consistency of your performance. Even though the Champions are usually the better fighters in general, they can sometimes gain that belt because of luck/accidents too.
Top fighters can perform horribly in “that one match” thanks to “a bad day.” This might cost them the tournament, but their ranking won’t fluctuate much. Why? Because one match doesn’t reflect the fighter’s whole career.
You might have heard of the term “the uncrowned king.” Yes, a beast of a man who has never been awarded champion. There are tons of them in the Muay Thai industry.
Who’s the best?
Now, you should understand how the Muay Thai ranking is made. Let’s look at actual lists to see who’s the best.
But remember, there are thousands of “Muay Thai top fighters” lists in this world.
In Thailand, 3 rankings dominate the Muay Thai industry: Lumpini, Ratchadamnoen, and One championship. So, let’s see how they rank their fighters (Notable weight division only, or this article would be 3,000 words long).
Lumpini Rankings (source)
Featherweight (127 – 130 lbs)
Champion: Songkom Bangkok Alaiyon
Welterweight (141 – 147 lbs)
Champion: Rafi Singpatong
Middleweight (161 – 168 lbs)
Champion: Kompikat S. Tawanrung
#1 Tobe Kaewsamrit
#2 Diego Carado
#3 Osan RMB Gym
Ratchadamnoen Rankings (source)
Featherweight (127 – 130 lbs)
Champion: Samingdet N. Anuwat Gym
Welterweight (141 – 147 lbs)
Champion: Jomthong Chuwattana
Middleweight (155 – 160 lbs)
Champion: Shinya Hokusei Gym
One Rankings (source)
Flyweight (125 – 135 lbs)
Champion: Rodtang Jitmuangnon
Bantamweight (135 – 145 lbs)
Champion: Jonathan Haggerty
#1 Nong-O Hama
#2 Felipe Lobo
Featherweight (145 lbs – 155 lbs)
Champion: Tawanchai PK Saenchai
#3 Jimmy Vienot
Muay Thai Rankings is fact + opinion
Muay Thai rankings are simple yet complex. They are composed of both evidential facts like weight and fight record together with personal thoughts like fight quality. So, it might be best for you to just ignore them and enjoy the fight.
In the end, ranking isn’t going to make Muay Thai better or worse as a sport. You can always watch or even practice it as it is. No need to care about numbers and orders.
However, you can’t deny that ranking is part of the fun too. So, keep what you learned today in mind the next time you see fighter top lists. Don’t let someone’s opinion get to you.
Like always, if you want to discover more about Thailand, stay guided with ThaiGuider. You might learn something you never knew about this unique country.
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