July| Vol. 22 No. 8.02 | Christian's Chronicles © 2015 – All rights reserved.
Thailand is of course the birthplace of Muay Thai, a combat sport with a long tradition steeped in the historical roots of this Asian nation. It is a style that has stood the test of time and has proven effective enough to lure many established and would-be fighters from across the globe to training camps scattered everywhere around the country. The influx of westerners seeking to improve their fighting skills is a welcome part of the tourism industry, but it has also created a certain amount of friction as they introduced the modern sport of mixed-martial-arts (MMA), jeopardizing the cultural dominance of the national sport of Thailand. As somewhat of a prophylactic measure, the government has banned MMA competition, while allowing MMA training to continue to bring in business, but still retain the dominance of Muay Thai as the primary martial art. The details of the legal status of MMA competition on Thailand have yet to be worked out, but it appears that at least one MMA show has already taken place despite the purported ban.
MMA promotions appear to be finding additional creative ways to penetrate the market in Thailand. It is rumored that the Ultimate Fighting Championships, or UFC, will be promoting fights across Asia in the near future, though no rumors of a show in Thailand have been mentioned. Nonetheless, some products, arguably related to MMA’s entry into the Asian markets, have appeared on store shelves arousing some suspicion.
UFC in a can.
Whether this is an effort of the UFC to little-by-little familiarize the Thai public with the dominant brand in MMA worldwide, or if this is a sly and subtle way the local powers-that-be in combat sports have decided to make a statement about the threat, or lack thereof, posed by the Ultimate Fighting Championships to traditional Muay Thai, is as yet unknown.
One thing is certain. Shoppers browsing items displayed on the shelves of markets in Phuket, a hotbed of combat sports training centers, can purchase a can of UFC brand Rambutan in Syrup. The authors have neglected to take advantage of the opportunity to sample this product, thus we have no way of knowing whether what appears to be the UFC’s initial foray into canned goods meets the quality standards fans have come to expect from the other product it serves; mixed-martial-arts bouts.
The investigation into the canned UFC products in Thailand will continue. Stay tuned for updates!