One of the best parts of training at Tiger is that they fully support you if you want to fight in any of the stadiums in Patong.
The two main stadiums in Phuket are Patong Stadium and Bangla Stadium and each event has about 8 fights for the evening.
To really improve your ability as a Muay Thai fighter you do need to nut-up (a phrase I heard) and fight in a competition. There are the smoker fights at tiger but to really get the full experience you need to go to one of the main stadiums.
You get paid to fight at the stadiums win or lose (more if you win), and a percentage of that goes to Tiger for organising everything for you and being in your corner. They will match you up to someone of a similar standard if you decide to fight so its not going to be clear who will win.
You can buy the ticket for the fight and transport to and from the stadium from the Tiger office. Prices vary.
Patong stadium is sort of what I expected. Seats all round the ring, bar in the corner and the changing room is an open area behind the supporters. In the changing room the fighters are split into 2 areas so you are not sitting next to the person you are fighting. They wrap your hands and cover you in vaseline to reduce cuts. You have to wear gloves supplied by the stadium to stop fighters cheating and putting knuckle dusters in the gloves (it has happened before) but the way your hands a wrapped it is like wearing knuckle dusters anyway.
When entering the ring you have the traditional Thai music which does get on your nerves a bit by the time you leave and all fighters wear a mongkhon (cotton headband).
Some fighters will run through the wai khru ritual in which the fighter pays homage to his teachers, past and present before the fight. Not all fighters go through this ritual and just walk to each corner of the ring praying 3 times in each corner.
The fight itself does not allow shin pads or head guards and the gloves are usually only 8oz so the fights are brutal.
Once the fight is over both fighters will pay respects to each other no matter the outcome which shows great humility.
You can’t visit Thailand without going to watch a fight at one of the stadiums as this is part of their heritage.