What are the odds of Buakaw Banchamek - formerly known as Buakaw Por. Pramuk - announcing a transition into mixed martial arts in the near future?
The Thai fighter, who was a dominant force on the K-1 MAX circuit for years until the company’s recent decline forced him into inactivity, has had problems in his native land after parting ways with the Por. Pramuk gym earlier this year.
His split with the team was well-documented by Fighters Only (see article links at the bottom) but suffice to say, Por. Pramuk have not taken it well and have taken various actions against him, both legally and with the Thailand Sports Authority. That resulted in Buakaw announcing his retirement at a recent Sports Authority hearing.
However, Por. Pramuk’s decision to continue with lawsuits against Buakaw’s backers despite this announcement have led him to reconsider certain decisions. Por. Pramuk are suing the Thai Fight event promoters - who staged a Buakaw bout earlier this year - and claiming damages, alleging that they knowingly infringed Por. Pramuk’s rights by having Buakaw on the card.
Por. Pramuk succeeded in having Buakaw placed under an injunction which means he cannot compete as a Muay Thai fighter or professional boxer until the issues are resolved. But the Sports Authority has no power in relation to fights under K-1 or MMA rules, neither of which it oversees or licenses. As such, Buakaw is still free to compete in those disciplines.
He still has a contract with Por. Pramuk gym which would require him to pay a percentage of his earnings for any activities at all, fights or otherwise, but Buakaw’s legal team are exploring all possible avenues to try and have this agreement terminated or modified by the Thai courts. As Buakaw recently said, “If I open a stall selling food in the street, I have to pay Por. Pramuk a percentage of that too?”
In the meantime, Buakaw has been photographed numerous times engaging in MMA training and he has even been seen wearing a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gi and white belt. The prospect of Buakaw crossing into MMA is seriously exciting, although of course he would need a lot of work on his ground game and takedown defence.
Buakaw has been coy about the chances of him switching disciplines, while his sponsors Yokkao have been publicly asking fans whether they would prefer to see Buakaw fighting for Glory or for the new K-1. It seems very likely his fighting days will continue - but where and under what discipline, who knows?
Last week, Buakaw took a trip to Hong Kong and was a ringside guest of the local Legend FC promotion. he was frequently spotted at Epic MMA, one of Hong Kong’s top teams, training in both jiu jitsu and in MMA. However, Epic MMA has moved to deny reports that Buakaw has signed with or is any way officially affiliated with them.