Foxwoods Casino, 2/20/15: Scott Kent and the Lion Fight crew delivered another great night of fights, showcasing what really makes Muay Thai the Sport of Kings. If you don’t already know, what sets Muay Thai apart from other combat sports is the sportsmanship, honor, respect and friendship amongst the fighters. Even after what was to some a questionable decision the fighters always maintained a smile on their face, and acknowledged the skill and ability of their opponent. By the end of the night there were two after parties. One at Scorpion, the bar across the hall from the Fox Theater, where UFC Veteran and BJJ Gold Medalist Gabriel Gonzaga and many other spectators were partying it up and burning off the adrenaline. The other, smaller party was fighters, coaches and cute medical staff only, and it was in the ambulances and emergency room of the local hospital, where at least half a dozen of the fighters got to bond. The pictures from the taxi’s, buses, ambulances and ER are great. They look like pictures from a kid’s 12th birthday party. But enough of this love in the hospital, let’s get to the war in the ring.
In the main event Jorina Baars was just too fast, too strong, and too accurate for the more experienced Chantal Ughi to handle. Starting with a one-sided first round in which Jorina came forward with a mix of punches, body and low kicks that kept Ughi moving back, defending, and still taking clean hits. Although Chantal posed no danger to Jorina, her own front leg was quickly in danger of collapse from Baars’ kicks. More of the same action followed in the second round. Sensing her imminent demise, Ughi began throwing elbows after clinching Jorina, but couldn’t find the space to make effective contact. She did have a brief flash of life before the end of the round, but it turned out to be naught but a last gasp. Although Chantal made it out of the round, she was unable to get off the stool, and surrendered from her corner before the third round could start.
The co-main event was one of those fights that could have been a disaster on paper, but in either direction. Joe Sittisak has a world of experience, but with that experience comes an older body which can break down in training or a fight. Chris Mauceri has youth, speed, height and reach on his side. Youth brings with it passion and aggression, whereas the elder has composure, patience, power and resilience. Watching this fight was like watching a young fighter training on a heavybag, or even more like a wing chun dummy, heavybags move too much. Mauceri came forward tirelessly, like an incoming high tide, throwing waves of punches, kicks and knees. But like a strong seawall, Sittisak just absorbed them and turned them back. He moved around the ring like tired old elephant, but when he felt his back touch those ropes, he would fire back with a solid combination, or a clean knee or kick to the body, or a sweep so smooth and effortless you’d think he was on ice. The rounds were close, and followed the same pattern for the first four rounds with Sittisak doing just barely enough to keep the Upstate New York product at bay. In the fifth the older Thai looked like he just wanted to get to the end and have a cigarette and a beer. He had put enough rounds in the bank and was now in cruise-control. Mauceri may have sensed he was behind because he hit the gas even harder, coming forward and almost literally swinging for the fences with huge arcing right hands that Sittisak either slipped, faded, or countered. One of those counters punched Chris’ ticket to the ER, opening up a gash over his left eye which was bad enough for the ref to ask the doctor to look at. After the pause, Chris opened up the throttle even more and poured on the pressure. It was a valiant effort, and a great fight, but in the end the heavy bag will always be hanging there ready for more, while we need to rest and ice. So to did Sittisak win by UNANIMOUS DECISION 48-47 x 3 judges.
I wish I could just skip the rest of the card, oh faithful reader, and list the results. But to do so would be an injustice of the highest order to both you and the fighters who had the crowd dazzled. So dazzled that they didn’t really know when to applaud or cheer. Or perhaps they were on Japanese manners that night? It was ironic because the theater was filled, but almost silent for most of the time during the fights. I think not having the traditional Thaiboxing music playing during the rounds opened up the ears to hear the silence from the crowd. The other pro fights were intense, but I’ll try to keep it short.
John Nofer shocked everyone in the Muay Thai world except for him, his trainer Rami Ibrahim, and the Sitan family. After Jason Andrada started fast with some heavy leather and leg kicks, Nofer landed a solid right cross that make Andrada acknowledge it with a smile and nod. The emotionless Nofer just pushed his fists deeper into his gloves and came forward like the Terminator. Andrada’s movement and quick slickness weren’t enough in the second round to prevent a sudden knockdown that he popped up from but had to endure a count for. Then he got his with a solid and well placed left handed crossing elbow that cut Jason just above and behind his right eye. After getting up, smiling and wiping the blood from his face Andrada attacked. But attacking the Terminator never worked in the movies, and it didn’t work that night as the stoic young automaton put together enough punishing combinations that referee Tom Sconzo was forced to step in for a standing 8-count, effectively the 3rd knockdown of the round and thus end of the fight. Nofer wins by TKO at 2:58 of the second round.
In what started out at a slow simmer of a fight in the first soon heated up and boiled over as the rounds wore on between Rich Abraham, out of Chicago, and Jo Nattawut, up from Georgia. They started out with the traditional slow Thai pace, and I figured out quickly, as it appeared Jo did, that Abraham was a slugging boxer, throwing hard punches at every opportunity. Nattawut seemed made for this type of opponent as he figured out that his own kicks were as fast, if not faster from distance than Abraham’s arsenal of punches. The tough and aggressive Abraham continued to press forward and advance through all five rounds, including the fifth in which Nattawut really tried to step it up and put him away. Nattawut had tasted Abraham’s power a few times in the fight, but was not afraid of it, to the point that he would bait Abraham with lowered hands, and if not taunt, then at least toy with him, pulling out any trick he could muster, including a cartwheel kick that looked good until it missed and Jo landed heels over head in the ropes. Aside from that, Nattawut dominated, cutting up Abraham’s head, sending him to the ER Party, UNANIMOUS DECISION, Nattawut.
Dublin, CA sent us Gaston Bolanos and his interesting mix of traditional and exotic techniques to take on New York’s Caleb Archer and his tough Sitan style. A good match up with both fighters showing great skill and stamina, however a close eye could see that Gaston was building momentum and confidence as the fight progressed. He was looking for a spinning back elbow throughout, setting it up from afar with a right cross miss, then stepping through and spinning the left elbow. He missed it about 4 times, but like a good baseball player knows, with enough at-bats he’ll get the homerun, he stayed with it. And it paid off in the 3rd round; when he finally landed the right spinning back elbow flush to Caleb’s head, knocking him out at 1:05 in the round. A quick note here about the great refereeing of this moment in particular. Caleb was unconscious but on his feet. Veteran fighter and referee Coban Lookchaomaesaithong (yes, I had to look up the spelling!) stopped the action, waived off the fight, and caught the fighter in his arms before he could hit the mat and bounce his head off the floor. I can’t stress how important that is, because the concussive force of a limp person’s head hitting the floor compounds and amplifies the damage from the original blow, if not creating its own separate concussion. Kudos to you, Coban!
Julio Pena gave up height and reach, but carried the muscle needed to get inside and pound on Tom Evans. After a clinch had been broken, Tom turned his back momentarily and walked away. Pena seized the opportunity and jumped in front of Evans, unloading a barrage of punches. There is already a Vine of the knockout, title “One-punch KO” but that takes away from the effort that Julio truly exerted. He through punches non-stop for a good ten-seconds before landing that perfect right cross. Ten seconds of non-stop full power punching is no joke. Try it. I’ll wait… 8…9…10. Okay, now catch your breath, wipe the sweat and reassess the one-punch theory. All that work earned Julio a KO at 1:30 of the first, and Tom Evans a VIP ticket to the ER Party.
The first professional fight, which sadly didn’t make it to air on AXS TV was one of the most even match ups and a great contest. Bryce Lawrence showed some fluid movement and great combinations in the first round, scoring both a knock-down 8-count and a cut on Tim Amorim’s face. Tim is normally a slow starter, but picked his pace up quickly from the time of the knock down. Through the second, third and fourth rounds he stayed aggressive until Bryce checked his progress with strong punch combos followed by nice snappy kicks and forced him into the reverse. The very game and tough Amorim continued to fight back, but was moving backwards away from the smooth and confident Lawrence. In the fifth, just when Bryce was looking winded, he snapped a teep to Tim’s face that scored well and followed it with a right cross, spinning back-fist combo that put Tim down for another 8 count and sealed the deal for Bryce Lawrence, giving him a majority decision, 47-47, 48-46, 47-46.
KRIS SILCK def. Brian Gamez by TKO Rd. 2.GREG MULGREW def. Mike Carbonneau by KO Rd. 1.STACEY SCAPECCIA def. Colleen Downey by UDJULIAN NGUYEN def. Chris Malloy by UDPHIL DaSILVA def. Ben Anton by SD