Buakaw Banchamek is making a comeback. The Muay Thai legend is set to fight Dmitry Varats on a World Fight Tournament card at the newly opened Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh on July 6th.

It will be Buakaw’s first fight since 2019. For someone accustomed to competing six or seven times in a calendar year that represents a lengthy absence from the sport.


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Long break

Buakaw hails from Surin which is very close to the Cambodian border and shares some aspects of its culture and language with the neighbouring country.  This will be his second fight in a row in Phnom Penh even if there has been a two year gap between them.

Buakaw celebrated his 40th birthday last month but comes into this contest on the back of a seven fight winning streak. He has clearly remained in shape despite taking a long break from competitive action.

He posts regularly on Instagram for his 1 million followers and seems to spend most of his time training even when he doesn’t have a fight booked. Buakaw could certainly not be accused of letting himself get out of shape between bouts:


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Local fighters

Buakaw will be fighting at a newly opened outdoor stadium with a 60,000 capacity. His opponent is a two time IFMA world champion who has been in with some top tier Thai opposition.

Varats has been in with the likes of Chujaroen Dabransarakarm, Yodwicha Por Boonsit, Kem Sitsongpeenong and Pakorn PKSaenchaigym. The 33 year old fought twice last year, winning on both occasions.

The rest of the card consists entirely of Khmer fighters taking in foreign opponents. Marie Ruumet, who was last seen getting stopped by Anissa Meksen, is taking on local fighter Touch Chanvatey.

Buakaw became a global star after transitioning to kickboxing, He won the K-1 Max tournament in 2004 and 2006 and would go on to establish himself as the face of Muay Thai.

It is not entirely clear what ruleset World Fight Tournament will be using. In recent years Buakaw had been competing almost exclusively in Muay Thai although he still takes the occasional kickboxing contest.