Many MMA fans are familiar with Ramon Dekkers at least by name, as Dekkers is widely recognized as one of Muay Thai's all time greats, amassing a record of 186(95 KOs)-30-2, and winning 8 world titles over the course of a career spanning 20 years. One name they might not be familiar with though is the one of perhaps his biggest rival, another all time great, Coban Lookchaomaesaitong.
Starting his Muay Thai training at the age of eleven, he made his Radjadamnern debut at 15 and was a Lumpinee champion before he turned 20. While well rounded and proficient in all phases of Muay Thai, these two Nak Muays were mostly known as two of the sport's most devastating punchers.
In 1991, a 20 years old Ramon Dekkers had already won 2 world titles and was breaking out as a star in Thailand, losing only competitive decisions to the best Thailand had to offer, dominating the rest. Meanwhile the 25 years old Coban was a 2 time Lumpinee champion and 2 time world champion himself when they first met in Paris on April 21, 1991.
video after the jump...
The much smaller Thai southpaw would catch Dekkers with a devastating left hook a minute into the fight, becoming the first (and only) Thai to ever knock Dekkers out. Dekkers had only been stopped once when he was 17 years old up to that point.
4 months later, Coban and Dekkers would rematch in the legendary Lumpinee stadium.
The fight didn't last much longer than the first one, and once again, the left hook started it all. Only this time, it was Dekkers hurting Coban with it, following with a brutal knee and a flurry of punches in one of the displays of killer instinct that earned him the nickname "Turbine from Hell". Having brutally avenged his loss in the first fight would go on to avenge an earlier loss to Sangtiennoi, to knock out French Nak Muay Joël César twice and lost a decision to Sakmongkol this year. With a confirmed yearly record of 4-3 (3 KOs, 2 avenged losses and more than likely a few more wins than 4 given the lack of detailed Muay Thai records) he became the first farang (occidental) to win the Nak Muay of the year award in Thailand.
However, with the first pair of fights split at one win a piece and lasting a combined time of less than a round, questions still remained as to who was truly the better fighter. On February 28, 1992, in Samut Prakan, Thailand the two fighters met for a rubber match.
Unlike the fist two, the fight started at a pace much more typical of Muay Thai fights, gradually gaining in intensity through the early rounds. After three pretty evenly fought rounds, Coban's left hook would once again make the difference as, like in the first fight, he used it to counter a left hook from Dekkers, sending him to the canvas. This time Dekkers would get up from it, and despite going down a second time, managed to survive the round, even mounting a late rally in the fifth en route for a spirited but clear cut decision loss.
The rivalry between the top 2 fighters of their era wasn't over though, and Coban and Dekkers would cross paths one last time in 1993 in Paris.
In a very tactical fight, Dekkers smartly avoided exchanging punches with the quicker Thai, instead using his reach advantage to draw him in a kicking battle to win a close decision and tie the series at 2-2. The fight was surrounded by a bit of controversy though, as, on Dekker's demand, elbows weren't allowed (Dekkers had lost a few fights before via cuts due to elbows) and Coban claims that he was set up by the promoter and wasn't supposed to fight Dekkers that night.
With the rivalry ending in a tie, determining the better man is left for the fans to argue. What isn't up for debate however is the place in history of these two Nak Muays as the best of their era and undisputable all time greats.
Coban put an end to his career after competing for 23 years in 2000, retiring with a 250(90 KOs)-20 record, 2 Lumpinee and 5 world titles. He now teaches Muay Thai in NYC. Ramon Dekkers definitely retired from the rings in 2006 after a comeback in K-1 that saw him go 1-1 in kickboxing, beating Duane Ludwig and 0-1 in MMA, losing to Genki Sudo. He is now a coach at his Golden Glory affiliated gym in his hometown of Breda.