Known for his highly aggressive and technical style, Penek’s intelligence in the ring is unparalleled. It is his precision, timing and great strategy that set him apart from other Muay Thai fighters. Although he considers himself a muay khao (knee fighter), it is his additional use of elbows and kicks that makes him a feared, well-rounded fighter.
The key to Penek Sitnumnoi’s ring intelligence:
1) Great strategy
Before any of his fights, Penek’s trainer would scout his opponent and study his opponent’s techniques. From this, he would develop a strategy that Penek would follow. Everything that Penek and his trainer would work on in his training camp revolved around this strategy. During his training camp, Penek would always devote the last rounds on the pads and bag to working on his strategy. In the first few rounds, Penek would throw the punches with power and go light in the last round, practicing the techniques he would use in his fight.
Perhaps one of Penek’s greatest and well-tested strategies is how he uses the first 3 rounds to feel out his opponents and understand their fighting style and techniques. He would throw kicks, punches and teeps – not aggressive enough to overwhelm his opponent but just to see how they would react. In the final two rounds, Penek would use his muay khao style of fighting and walk forward, throwing knees and elbows. By attacking at the last few moments of the fight, Penek shows his patience and technical prowess.
2) Perfect timing
Perhaps one of the greatest examples of Penek’s perfect timing is his second fight against multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Sam-A Gaiyanghadao. In this fight, Penek managed to land a perfectly timed elbow, knocking down the impenetrable Sam-A down to the ground. This elbow was a technique that Penek was constantly fine-tuning leading up to this fight. Although Sam-A was favored to win, it was Penek who emerged victorious this time around.
3) The importance of heart
Beautiful sparring with Muay Thai Legends
Posted by Evolve MMA on Tuesday, August 23, 2016
According to Penek, heart is what separates a good fighter from a weak fighter. He believes that one’s heart must be 100% behind everything that you do inside the ring. From training to stepping into the ring, heart will give you the confidence and motivation to persevere. In the most tumultuous times inside the ring, heart is what gets you through. It allows you to stay focused and deal with the toughest of opponents.
4) Break your opponent’s will
Of all his fights, one of his favorites is his fight against Mongkoon Chai. This fight was for the Lumpinee title, and Mongkoon was an experienced fighter who was well known around the Bangkok circuit. His strategy for this fight, as with many of his fights, was to break his opponent’s spirit from the beginning. To do so, Penek would walk forward, absorbing his opponent’s blows, unflinching, to make it appear as if he was unaffected by them.
5) Learn from your mistakes
In Penek’s first encounter with Sam-A, he had lost a fight with an elbow knockout in the 4th round. As a fairly new fighter, he had gone into the fight with no game plan. He believed that he could overpower Sam-A – a plan that obviously did not work. The second time around, Penek was more prepared. He knew that he couldn’t be reckless and that he needed to be smart about his attacks. He also knew that Sam-A was a muay femur and muay te so he couldn’t out-technique him with kicks and punches. Instead, Penek walked forward and used knees and elbows to strike. In the end, it was Penek’s well-timed elbow that knocked Sam-A down, helping him earn the judges’ nod.
6) Train smart
According to Penek, you should always train smart, especially if you’re preparing for a fight. You must have a strategy and practice it during training – always devote the last round of pads to technique development and game plan review. He emphasizes being patient when kicking bags and pads – instead of going hard and fast during training, you should focus on your technique and timing. But above all, Penek believes in doing lots of sparring. Sparring helps develop your reflexes and timing and it also opens you up to different styles. “You must be smart when you spar,” says Penek. “Don’t just focus on offense, think of blocking or how your opponent will react. Be thoughtful instead of aggressive and attack intensive.”
It’s not difficult to see why Penek Sitnumnoi is considered to be one of the most talented fighters to step into the ring. With his ring intelligence, aggressiveness and graceful technique, he truly embodies the beautiful and highly technical art of eight limbs.