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If your as big as a Muay Thai fan as we are, your probably wondering, why is Muay Thai not popular?
When you looking at combat sports such as boxing and MMA, you see fighters making large sums of money, huge arena sell outs for fights and superstars being made on a regular basis. Muay Thai is the complete opposite of this. Muay Thai fighters make very little money, fight on smaller shows and very few reach a degree of fame.
There are several reasons that we believe Muay Thai is not as popular as other combat sports. In this article we've gone through those reasons.
Reasons Muay Thai is not popular
Below we have gone into more detail around the reasons that we believe Muay Thai is not popular.
Muay Thai is a sport full of traditions and ceremonies that originate from its birthplace in Thailand that may not be as appealing to a mass crowd.
Views can often become bored during the long pre-fight routines such as the Wai Kru which can be a strange sight when seen for the first time. Muay Thai bouts also have Thai music playing during their bouts with heavy drums, this probably isn't massively admired by a mass market.
To appeal more to a mass market, western Muay Thai shows have begin removing certain traditional ceremonies such as the Wai Kru.
Muay Thai fights are often much slower to start than in other combat sports. The first two rounds are usually spent with the fighters feeling each other out.
The slow pace of the first few rounds can be off putting for the western crowds and the mass market who for the most part are just looking for violence.
The scoring system can also be a cause of commotion to people who don't understand how to score Muay Thai. It isn’t as simple as hitting a given point on the body and receiving a set amount of points like Olympic Taekwondo. Nor is it as basic as who does the most damage to their opponent such as MMA. Instead you have the intricacies of how trips and sweep scores. Not only that you have the observational score of who is able to disrupt their opponents position the most to name but a handful of scoring principles. To the untrained eye, they are simply looking for whoever does the most damage, but this isn't how you score a fight in Muay Thai.
Lack of unified organisation
One of the major reasons that Muay Thai may not be as popular as other combat sports is due to the lack of a unified organisation.
The growth of MMA was pushed by the UFC being the unified organisation that lead MMA into the mass market. This lead to a large investment from the UFC, and the worlds leading fighters all being in one place.
In recent years, One Championship have worked towards being a unified front in the Muay Thai scene. They do however also host Kickboxing and MMA fights, and they are not a sole unified Muay Thai organisation.
Other combat sports have done a brilliant job of making superstars out of their fighters, MMA have Connor McGregor and boxing have Tyson Fury. Muay Thai doesn't have any real superstars.
Although their are fighters who have made a fantastic name for themselves and have a huge social media presence, such as Saenchai and Liam Harrison, they don't have the superstardom that UFC and boxing stars do.
Are there many famous Muay Thai fighters?
There are several Muay Thai fighters who can be classed as famous. The most renowned being Muay Thai legend Saenchai. Saenchai is known as one the greatest Muay Thai fighters of all time, having held the Lumpinee title at five different weight classes.
Saenchai has done a brilliant job of growing his profile and following, and is know known all over the world for his insane striking ability and fan friendly fighting style.
What is the biggest Muay Thai promotion?
One Championship are the biggest Muay Thai promotion outside of Thailand, and they now boast a roaster of some of the worlds leading Muay Thai fighters.
They broadcast their fights worldwide and have amassed one of the highest engaged social media followings of any sports promotion.
There are many reasons that Muay Thai may not be as popular as other combat sports, but we can all agree that its certainly up there with excitement if you've fallen in love the sport.
With investment, and continued growth, we are confident that Muay Thai can become the next break through sport.