A lot of trainers love pad work. Whether boxing pads or muay thai pads, they make you hit over and over, correcting technique until it looks perfect. Then send their fighters out to fight, and wonder why they don’t look as good in the fight as they do on the pads.
The easy answer to this question would be drill work, as what these fighters are missing is the reaction to actual punches coming at their face. Additionally sparring over and over every day is not a good idea, as this causes unnecessary brain damage and injuries. Drilling on the other hand provides fighters a safe space to experiment with live speed weapons being thrown at them in a controlled environment.
Drillers will get used to seeing these weapons and conditioning their bodies to react the correct way. They get used to seeing the same weapons being thrown at them, and develop different defensive tactics that they can then turn around and use in an actual fight.
Here Audree, shows one of the ways a fighter can evade low and high kicks while staying in range to return with a kick of their own. She also shows how to catch and counter this same weapon in another series.
This should not be mistaken for the ONLY way to defend against these attacks, as it is ONE of the ways to defend against these attacks.
Many times I have people commenting on videos saying their coach taught them a different way, or this is not correct because of...
As humans we want the easy answer, to defend against blank you do blank. Fighting is not that simple, it is situational and changes for each body type and mind.
Find what works best for you and express yourself through the martial art, if it works for you then it is right.
For more in depth analysis check out The Ultimate Guide to Striking for MMA, Muay Thai and Kickboxing.