The history books tell us men have been engaging in Bloodsport for thousands of years, even before the Gladiatorial combat in ancient Rome that features prominently on the introduction for UFC events. So what DARE mixed martial arts events are accomplishing in Bangkok is not exactly novel, but they do merit credit for spotting demand and organizing successful fights.
While Muay Thai, boxing and several other disciplines have been around in Thailand for centries, DARE is the first card in the kingdom to feature several MMA fighters from around the region. Truth in advertising, DARE had everything the poster said it would: extremely tough guys punching and kicking each other repeatedly, loud music, booze and an overhelming amount of augmented breasts. Admittedly some people like MMA events for their spectacle, such as with ultimate tak ball (UTB) , but most of the crowd seemed to legitimately be into the fight.
So why do the fighters do it? The main reason is likely because of the highly advertised US$1 million purse that winners in the final round from each weight division get to split. Fighters are slotted into 16-man divisions and, KohSpot is told, it is winner-take-all. This means 15 fighters per division go home with next to nothing except shattered dreams, and DARE doesn’t have to pay the fighters until the finals. While we’re sure a lot of these guys would say they’d fight for free and feel confident they’re going to win, those aren’t very good odds.
DARE is run by a young successful hotelier named Jussi who already has 12 corporate sponsors and two websites that stream DARE events live. Apparently some of the purse is put up by sponsors, and the alacrity of the partnerships overshadows even the speed of the fights. We wanted to ask him why the event is named after the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) program, but we were too high.
The Bangkok events take place at the cesspool named Club Insomnia on Sukhumvit Soi 12, complete with bodybuilders, dumbbells and protein powder sales at the front door. While the fights themselves certainly have the visceral appeal of “being there when the action goes down”, watching an event that frequently involves the fighters wrestling on the ground in a venue without stadium seating leaves something to be desired. We felt bad for the short people in the audience. On the other hand, there’s an eerie quiet that takes over once the fights begin, as the crowd waits for a big hit to happen. Nerves run high and this adds to the excitement of the event.
If you have a real interest in MMA fighting, you’re likely to get caught up in DARE events and also make a lot of contacts at these fights. Tickets cost 1,100 baht for regular seats and 2,000 baht for VIP access, which includes catering and a slightly higher vantage point.
DARE MMA Fights
Location: Club Insomnia, right at the front of Sukhumvit Soi 12
Mass transit: BTS Asok or MRT Sukhumvit
Hours: A fight takes place every few months or so, consult website
Phone: Contact via their website