“The best lesson I’ve learned is losing.”
Buriram-born Loma Lookboonmee made history on Oct 26, when she not only became the first Thai mixed martial artist to fight professionally in the UFC, but also won. She took on Moldovan-born Russian fighter Alexandra Albu at Singapore Indoor Stadium. Before the match, we spoke to the winner of nine regional muay Thai titles, Asian Games gold medalist, Thai national team representative and fast-rising MMA star about her inspiration, her favorite fighter and smashing the patriarchy.
What got you started fighting in the first place?
My dad was a muay Thai fighter. One day my mom took me to see a match that my dad was fighting in, and I remember seeing him elbowing his opponent, and his face was covered in blood. I really enjoyed watching that match and fell in love with this sport ever since.
Who is your favorite muay Thai fighter?
My dad is my hero and favorite boxer. Even though he’s not well-known and never won any championships or participated in any prestigious boxing series, he’s a world champion to me.
What drives you now?
My dreams and objectives are always changing. When I was a kid, I wanted to fight for the Thai national team. I’m very happy to have achieved that goal. Now I want to win the UFC championship.
Is it difficult being a woman in a male-dominated sport?
It’s already difficult to fight in this sport. For women, we need to practice like men and often prove that women can do it, too.
Do you have any tips for other female fighters?
How do you discipline your mind and body?
Failure is a force that has helped me become a stronger and better fighter today. The best lesson I’ve learned is losing. Winning feels great, but after a few days that feeling disappears. How I feel when I lose a fight never goes away, so I train even harder to get back to winning again.
What about when it comes to training?
My training is really tough. I feel down and tired sometimes, but encouragement from my family and inner strength have been vital for me. Success takes time—no one is successful from the first day of their career.
Should we be afraid of you?
I only fight in the ring. As soon as I step out of it, I’m a different person. Believe it or not, I used to be bullied when I was a kid at school, but rather than fighting back, I would call my dad to pick me up.
What is your diet like?
I didn’t know about diets before I started practicing muay Thai, but now my coach puts me on a strict diet—that means no desserts, snacks or fried foods. It would be nice if I could eat chocolate every once in a while… however, I might secretly eat dessert sometimes!
What are your expectations coming into the UFC?
I want to win every match. I’m not worried about anything yet, but I think I will be when the fight comes!
If you could get into the octagon with anyone, who would it be?
I want to fight with Amanda Nunes [a current UFC two-division champion and the first woman in UFC history to hold two titles simultaneously]. But I don’t think I’ll be able to since we’re in different weight classes.
What is your signature, TKO-guaranteed move?