Here is a fight from last weekend that slipped under the radar: It's Showtime 77kg champion Artem Levin vs. WBC Muay Thai World Light Heavyweight champion Kaoklai Kaennorsing. The fight was 5 rounds, full Muay Thai rules for Kaoklai's WBC title and took place at an event in Russia.
Levin came in off a career best year in 2010 that saw him quickly rise up the ranks. In the last year, Levin claimed both the It's Showtime title and the Gold medal at the SportAccord Combat Games. Along the way he defeated two men who could each make a solid claim for being #1 at 77kg: Yodsaenklai Fairtex and L'houcine Ouzgni. He's on a 12 fight win streak, and has to be considered the top man at 77kg at this point.
Kaoklai is a Muay Thai legend who K-1 fans may best know for his surprising 2004/2005 K-1 Grand Prix runs. He's in the twilight of his superb career, although he did put together a 5-0 record in 2010 and is not yet completely finished.
Analysis after the jump.
The first thing that strikes me here is that Levin is kind of a dick in this fight. It starts in the 2nd round as he starts taunting Kaoklai. By the end of the fight, he's intentionally throwing Kaoklai over the top, hitting an illegal elbow strike (that he had tried to use earlier in the fight) and doing some mocking Couture vs. Ortiz style taps on the break. I haven't seen Levin quite like this before, and am not sure what brought it on here, but it definitely stuck out to me.
That said, the Russian fighter does turn in an excellent, strategic performance. In the opening rounds you see his gameplan very clearly as he uses his significant reach advantage to strike from the outside. Whenever the fight moves inside, he is focused on landing elbows which Kaoklai must avoid. It's a very simple, but very effective strategy that essentially shuts the Thai fighter down. As the fight progresses, Levin opens up a bit more, but continues to use that combination of distance striking and close elbows to earn the clear decision victory, adding another famous name to his ever expanding resume.