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A day in the life of a Thai MMA fighter - Topnoi Kiwram’s Road to UFC

Ever wonder what a typical day is like for one of the best MMA fighters in Thailand?

Topnoi Kiwram is looking to be the first male fighter from Thailand to make it to the UFC, with his compatriot and teammate Loma Lookboonmee already making waves in the Women’s strawweight division.

The lifestyle of a fighter in Thailand certainly isn’t an easy road, with countless athletes starting that grind from a very young age. Topnoi, like Lookboonmee, took a slightly different path than most. After competing in over 200 Muay Thai fights, Topnoi switched sports and established himself as one of the best MMA fighters in his home country.

Alongside his status as a fighter on the rise, Topnoi finds himself now balancing his role as a striking coach at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA. With his interesting path and lifestyle, our video feature above shows Topnoi giving an inside look on his daily routine as a professional fighter and coach in Phuket, Thailand.

“Everyday I wake up at 7:30 a.m,” Topnoi told Bloody Elbow, noting that he starts his day off as a coach first and foremost.

“8:00 a.m. I come to teach people, a class in Muay Thai.”

Topnoi Kiwram training at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA. Paolo Tabuena

When running Muay Thai classes, Topnoi will typically hold pads, do drills, and sometimes spar with students of all levels—from hobbyists to professional Muay Thai fighters and fellow MMA fighters.

This class will typically run until 9:30 a.m. While that’s already a workout in and of itself for the average person, it’s only after that class where he’ll actually begin focusing on his own training for the first time that day.

“10:00 a.m. I come to train BJJ,” he said. Topnoi already has extensive Muay Thai experience, but he also works with the jiujitsu coaches and other top notch grapplers in camp to work on rounding out his overall MMA game.

Around this time, he’ll typically also get some strength and conditioning work done, before having lunch and taking a break to rest.

“In the afternoon, at 4:00 p.m. I come to train, sparring, MMA and wrestling,” he added. Topnoi works with his main coaches and other pro fighters in the afternoons, and depending on the day, these hard MMA sessions will focus on either sparring, wrestling, or technique.

Immediately after that intense workout, Topnoi normally heads back to the Muay Thai area to work his striking with his fellow Muay Thai coaches.

“Around 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. I come to kick pads for a few rounds,” he said.

Topnoi Kiwram training at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA. Paolo Tabuena

“Maybe I have privates for two hours (too),” Topnoi said, explaining how he also teaches a couple of one-on-one sessions either early in the afternoon or at night, after his workout. It cuts down on his remaining free time, but it does pay extra.

There are also multiple people from the Bangtao gym that compete in Muay Thai every week, in various levels and stadiums in the country.

“Sometimes I go and support people, students that are fighting in Bangla or Patong Stadium,” Topnoi said. “I put their hand wraps, massage—like a manager. I take care of all the people there, like same family.”

Whether it’s for Bangtao’s regular students, first timers, or even seasoned professionals and fellow champions in their stable, Topnoi and other coaches travel with them to be in their corners.

“When they finish fighting, it’s around 11 p.m. or 12 a.m.,” he said. “I leave, I come home, and sleep. It’s like this. This is one day for me. This is a day in the life of Topnoi.”

Weekends typically mean less classes and a chance to recover and unwind at the nearby beaches. On most days though, hybrid fighter-coaches like Topnoi go to bed after a long day filled with several training sessions both for himself and for his students.

When he has an actual fight booked and he’s in training camp, everything gets dialed up significantly more.

Topnoi Kiwram training at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA. Paolo Tabuena

It’s an intense grind that can easily add up, especially for those that have been fighting since they were kids. You wouldn’t notice it much from Topnoi though, who always has a smile on his face and tries to make everybody laugh all the time.

While none of it is easy, Topnoi says he prefers this current grind over one of pure Muay Thai, where he’s already had over 200 fights. A part of that is the better pay he gets now, and how he strives for more.

“I fight for money. To take care of everyone in my family. I only think about this,” Topnoi said about the busy lifestyle he maintains. “I have no time for ‘tired,’ I have no time for ‘pain.’ I work hard (to change) my life.”

After starting from very humble beginnings, Topnoi’s years of hard work have led to a shot at the big leagues. He’s currently knocking on the door at a UFC berth. After an impressive quarterfinal win—and some interesting quips about cigarettes—the RIZIN veteran now has his semi-final bout set in a UFC tournament designed to look for Asian talent.

“So now I’m fighting for the Road to UFC. My next fight is this October 23, in Abu Dhabi.”

Ever the showman, Topnoi isn’t just looking to win the tournament and showcase the tools he’s been working hard on. His main goal is to have each of his fights become “must watch” affairs that MMA fans won’t soon forget.

“I want to show something crazy in the UFC, understand? Win or lose, I don’t care,” Topnoi exclaimed. “I fight 100 percent every time. I’ll fight hard. I’m crazy! It’s me, same me, every time.”

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