It's true. We love Lion Fight.
There aren't many big-name muay thai promotions in the United States. Of those select few, Scott Kent's Lion Fight has easily become the most recognizable, not only for their wide array of American bred talent, but also because the Lion Fight ring has played host to some serious international stars like Yodsanklai, Gregory Choplin, and Cosmo Alexandre. The icing on the cake is their television deal with AXS TV, which went into full effect at Lion Fight 8 back in January.
Tomorrow marks the date for Lion Fight 9, which sees muay thai superstar Artem Levin take on Simon Marcus for the first ever Lion Fight championship. Also on the card, America's favorite son, Kevin Ross, goes head to head with Bernie Mendieta, Tiffany Van Soest faces Natalie Yip, and Ognjen Topic takes on Paowrit Sasiprapa. Joe Schilling was originally scheduled to be on the card but due to an issue with turning in his medicals in he was forced to withdraw.
Obviously the biggest fight of the night is Artem Levin vs. Simon Marcus. Both these guys have something to prove. Marcus wants to show he can truly hang with the elite of the light heavyweight division. On paper, Simon is a wrecking machine. His record looks almost criminal with the amount of TKO and KO wins he's racked up over the course of his 32 fight win streak. But after watching his fights you'll see the Canadian struggle against strong boxers, drop his hands when put under pressure, and move backwards in a straight line after taking a few shots. It's understandable. The confidence to stand in the pocket, pivet on your lead foot and cover up only comes from the experience of facing fighters that will push you to your breaking point. And that's exactly what Levin is looking to do.
If you know Muay Thai, you probably know Artem Levin. The guy has beaten the who's who of 80 kg: Dmitry Shakuta, Cheick Sidibe, Alexander Stretsurenko, L'houcine "Aussie" Ouzgni, Roberto Cocco, and Murthel Groenhart. He's also beat both Yodsanklai Fairtex in the Amateur World Muay Thai Championships (It might not sound like a big deal, but trust me, it is). He's the former It's Showtime 77 kg Champion, and current WBC champion. But even with all those accomplishments, Levin is still coming into this fight with a monkey on his back: His hotly disputed draw against Steven Wakeling late last year. In what was a highly debated fight to say the least, Levin was at first awarded a decision victory, but the ruling was overturned to a draw. Levin seems to have been slacking in his past few fights, and he no doubt wants to restate his position as the best in the world at light heavyweight by winning definitively over Marcus.
Also on the card we'll see Kevin Ross take on Bernie Mendieta in what will surely be an exciting technical affair. Mendieta is the U.K. WBC Champion, but against Ross he'll be the heavy underdog. Prematurely announced to be fighting at the GLORY 65 kg tournament in Japan, Kevin Ross is one of the few fighters from the United States that I personally believe has the potential to become competitive in the kickboxing world. Mendieta is not just another opponent for Ross- if he loses this fight, his stock will surely fall in the eyes of the international kickboxing community. There's a lot of pressure riding on his shoulders, but it's probably just another day at the office for him.
The other fight I'm really looking forward to that no one seems to be talking about is Ognjen Topic vs. Paowrit Sasiprapa. Topic, fighting out of New Jersey, is considered one of the top tier Muay Thai fighters from the East Coast. Last year he put a beat down on Rami Ibrahim, and has only two losses, both of which were very controversial. He faces Paowrit Sasiprapa who's been staying with Lion Fight regular Malaipet Sasiprapa since December of last year. Paowrit is a former Rajadamnern and Omnoi champion, and will be a huge test for the budding American star.
Lion Fight will be shown live on AXS TV tomorrow at 10 PM Eastern Time.