The Contender Asia Premiere

...So what do I think about the premiere? Let me break it down for y'all in bite-sized pieces.

The Lineup

The Contender Asia is White Boy's Land! And about half of them aren't even from Asia! Funny, I know. I checked out the profile of the 16 contenders even before the promotional vids were released and saw that the mix was pretty diverse all right, but it's something else to be seeing them move and speak on the show.

But it's all good, really. I think it makes more business sense to include such a broad scope of geographic representation (there's France, Sweden, and even Croatia!). You have to admit, it makes the case for building Muay Thai up as an uber interesting alternative spectator sport more viable. First off, the fighters could very well be part of the lineup for a United Colors of Benetton ad (for the sportswear collection, if there ever was one). And the more "colorful" the cast of characters in a production, the more engrossing the show could be, hence furthering marketability. As a Muay Thai fan, I sure want to see this happen.

Then there's the language issue. As viewers may have noticed, the powerhouse contenders--them Thais, Yodsaenklai and Naruepol--hardly speak as much English as we offspring of this sprawling, Westernized TV society would prefer. Of course, it's not that they can't speak the language (even if this is so, I don't think it should be the foremost concern of any potential fan of the show); it's just that they don't as much as the others. Which would put them in a slight disadvantage in terms of easy adoption by non-Thai-speaking boob tube cultures. Then again, one could easily point out, "That's what the subtitles are for." Touché.

(By the way, please note that the term "white boy" is not used herein as a derogatory term, or even to suggest a marked demarcation between the races. This is used to describe the irony of the situation. And by irony I don't mean sarcasm. I understand a little, even just a teensy weensy bit, about this thing called globalization and the ongoing melting pot phenomenon, and I don't wish to marginalize in any way any group anywhere, as we are all products of the history of the same world. Bow.)

The Technical

I think the production looks a bit low-budget for something that's from the camp of mega-producer Mark Burnett. By low-budget I mean the feel of the overall quality of the production. (Think getting more bang for your buck.) Although this seems to be the case as well for regional spin-off shows from the US like The Amazing Race, I think the guys behind TCA could have done better.

That being said, I would like to see the cameramen around the ring during the end-of-show fights employ more strategic subterfuge methods to make themselves look scarce. It's a little distracting, really, particularly when the fighters hit the ropes for some clinch action, you tend to go, "Oh the camera guy, he's in the way, he might get thrown off the ring!" And I think the panning of the shots all across the ring could be a little less erratic. Think something along the lines of the UFC or even The Ultimate Fighter. And maybe if they could position the referee to be standing by the side of the fighters in the shots so that you get a sense of only two people fighting in the match, that would also be great. It's not too much to ask, is it? (I know, I notice too much.)

The Sport

Overall, as much as I predict that the show's explosive fights will inspire prospective audiences outside the expected Muay Thai-practicing fanbase to tune in, I think TCA's initial adoption will be borne to a considerable extent by the strong worldwide branding of its parent production. Even though the US show is a boxing competition, its popularity will well enough carry over to TCA, helping the newbie in its bid to make a dent on the Asian entertainment sports market.

As a sport, boxing has left an indelible imprint on the collective consciousness of sports fans all over the world. I can't begin to try guessing how this imprint looks like, and even more so how this was shaped. Suffice it to say that as like-minded enthusiasts become more enamored by the spectacle of combat sports, we shall perceive a more resounding clamor for alternative, derivative forms of boxing, if only to satiate our vicarious lust for variety and the increasingly exotic. Being the "Art of the Eight Limbs", Muay Thai is all that and more. It's not just a sporting phenomenon that's taking rings all around the world by storm; it's something that we can all connect to. It is survival of the fittest to the core, and we are all fighting the same fight. And that is why I think Muay Thai and TCA are here to stay.



Good write-up mate! On the other hand it's a show, they want to make money so they need something to sell. Imagine if all - or most of - the fighters were Thais :-)


Good write-up mate! On the other hand it's a show, they want to make money so they need something to sell. Imagine if all - or most of - the fighters were Thais :-)


Unless you are a hardcore Muay Thai fan, an all Thai ensemble would be really BORING! i.e. the thais are not exactly the most outspoken and controversial people around lah...

thanks, you guys!

yeah, i do agree, an all-thai ensemble would be super.  but language sure would be an obstacle to mainstream TV adoption.  TCA would then be sort of a compromise.  but it's a great compromise nonetheless.

Haha... maybe its possible for "The Contender" Thailand. Then gather all the best thai boxers haha. But picking out all the thai boxer will be a little tough, cause all of them are so good. No idea on who to pick. The fairtex boys are in the top list, maybe Seanchai and Anuwat. Sinbin, Malaipet and Buakaw? Buakaw is most likely too busy with K1 and Malaipet too busy with his MMA.

I agree it was a good write up

Instead of using the term "white boys" you could have used "farangs"!!!  =)

I think one of the reasons they are not all Asian is because it's not an all-Asian sport. There have been a number of "farang" world champions in Muay Thai over the years, including John Wayne.


They also had 2 "farang" representing Thailand a season or 2 ago on the Amazing Race Asia. Not sure how that one happened, but the 2 hotties representing Thailand in the most recent season are MUCH BETTER!!!  WOW!!!


Tickets for the finale went on sale at 0900 am this morning in Singapore. I think I was the first person on,and got the 2 best tickets to the fight!!!! My wife and I will be sitting ring-side, row 1, seats 11 and 12, which are the 2 seats at the end of the aisle, but in the middle of the ring, since there are 2 sections on each side of the ring!!!


I am so pumpep!!!! It's going to be awesome!!! 




As i mentioned in my other post, i like the international flavour. Regardless of politics,race,religion..the sport can bind us all. I dun really care where they come from as long as they can fight.

Regards to the technical side of the show, it is their 1st season so i dun think they want to blow their budget too much on the production. hopefiully things may improve if the 1st season is considered a success. I dun really expect too much from them in their debut season.

We cant compete with UFC/TUF-like production. All about $$$. My suggestion : Ref Cam ala Pride FC (RIP). Now that's cool.

But my question to them is - how long are they gonna do this CA thingy? Contender is already cancelled after 3 seasons. How long is the TV deal with AXN? Hopefully they can last longer than 3 seasons. I hope promoters notice the hunger of our local fans to see fights when CA eventually fades away. *touch wood*


why arent there any fighters from the philippines in contender asia?

I'm not happy at all,,cuz Jesse Milles will represent Canada at contender Asia 2,Alex Ricci won the canada contender Asia,its a shame really ,,,

this is posted in another forum: Whoa, this was an extremely long read but very eye opening. I see the latest dent to WMC's credibility has been made in the form of Contender Asia 2's Canadian tournament. I had an odd feeling given who the Canadian WMC arm is, who the promoters are, the fighters involved, and who has a thumb in the Alberta commission too. The outcome was exactly what I first suspected when I saw this topic: a total disaster and an embarrassment to Muay Thai.

Your winner? By getting KOed Jesse Miles? Wow that some how just doesn't conjure images of an epic challenge among Muay thai's best does it?

This is seriously getting to be so bad it's almost a parody of itself. I blame Alberta's Muay Thai community for letting this travesty go on and basically becoming the joke of Muay Thai for the North. When you guys get tired of getting laughed at because some pretend Grand Wizard Arjan is using Muay Thai as his personal sock puppet this can get fixed. This is exactly why point karate kids should never be allowed to play in a sport they don't know or understand.