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World’s Biggest MMA Gym: Tiger Muay Thai | Ep. 1 | First Day in Phuket

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At 6A.M. on Christmas (Dec. 25, 2019), I left my home in Sacramento, California for the San Francisco airport, beginning the roughly 30 hours of travel necessary to arrive in Bangkok, Thailand. I spent the next six weeks into Thailand, evenly divided between exploring the country and training.

For the first half of the trip, I took over the MMAmania Instagram account (follow it!) to document all the excitement.

Once the focus shifted to training, I met up with Case Harts in Phuket, Thailand. Case is the SB Nation video producer who tailed me two years ago to document my professional debut and all the weirdness that accompanied that fight.

To sum it up differently, the dream team — later dubbed “The Content Boys” — were back!

Over the course of three weeks, Case and I recorded a ton of footage. Primarily, the focus of all this recording was training and martial arts related. For the first two weeks, I trained at Tiger Muay Thai every day, experiencing as much as I could of what the massive facility and dozens of coaches offered. Then, we relocated to Bangkok, where I visited several different academies.

We had some fun also beneath the rally cry of “Do it for the content!” Over the course of those three weeks and the coming videos, I’ll eat bugs, throw down in an organized bar fight, and even do a thrift shop challenge? I have no idea how Case talked me into that one, but the end result was a lot of fun.

Let’s dig into it!

Episode One: The first episode is largely an introduction, as I talk through the project and my initial feelings of excitement and anticipation towards diving into Muay Thai in its home country. It’s also an intro to Tiger Muay Thai, the massive facility that will house many of the trip’s experiences and much of the training footage.

Behind-The-Scenes: Let’s talk about how damn out-of-shape I was and the temperature of Phuket.

The training portion of the trip came immediately after the vacation portion. This was not by accident: I had hoped to use those three weeks of training as the start of my training camp for a fight back in America. Ideally, I’d return from Thailand in February, have another few weeks at Team Alpha Male, and then fight in early March. Good planning, right?

Unfortunately, no promotion booked me for March and all those events got cancelled anyway. In retrospect, training upon landing in Thailand would have been much easier, but that’s the glory of hindsight.

I do not look fat from an objective standpoint, which is solely because of my lanky frame. At the start of the video, I am roughly 153 pounds, which is nearly 30 lbs. above my competition weight and almost 10 above my usual walk around. I cannot overstate how much crap I ate in those first three weeks: my girlfriend and I would routinely drink three-five fruit smoothies to accompany our three over-sized meals.

In the six weeks I was in Thailand, it did not rain a single time. Every single day, the temperature climbed above 90 degrees, and it was humid as hell. The only relief from the direct sunlight was Bangkok’s oppressive smog, but Phuket is an island with less industrial pollution. I am not an athlete who tends to sweat profusely even during a regular hard 90-minute practice, but at Tiger, I would be pouring within five minutes of starting the light jog warm up.

These two factors combined to create the slow, sweaty mess witnessed above. If the thoughts like, “he probably shouldn’t have dropped his hands after that combination” or “that’s a terrible plank,” pop into your head while watching, you are correct!

The first few sessions documented above were rough. Learning to swim by diving into the deep end rarely starts gracefully, but it’s always been my preferred path to growth.

Stay tuned for the upcoming episodes!