Tensions escalated yesterday between Ben Hodge and Jordan Watson when Hodge failed to attend both the Yokkao 19 & 20 weigh-ins (and press conference) at the Bolton Macron stadium. Watson is the defending 70kg Yokkao world champion, having recaptured the title from Sanny Dahlbeck at Yokkao 18. Hodge was set to challenge Watson for the title later today at Yokkao 20.
However, Hodge not only failed to attend the weigh-ins in a timely manner yesterday. He’d also missed the two hour time extension he was given by officials to weigh-in at 70kg which, was after all of the other fighters had attended, weighed-in and left.
The reason given at the time by Ben Hodge’s coach, John Jarvis, was that Ben was still in the sauna with 0.3kg remaining to lose and was very focused on cutting the remaining weight before weighing-in later (than everyone else), at the agreed 70kg. Apparently, this had been discussed during the two hour extension period with the Yokkao officials, so as to ensure that Hodge would still have his opportunity to fight for the title and weigh-in a lot later (after the extension) that evening, without putting his health and well-being at any further / potential risk from such a challenging weight cut.
However, after the two hour time extension had passed, the Yokkao officials had decided that the main event between Watson and Hodge would no longer be for the Yokkao 70kg world championship.
Instead, the Watson vs Hodge fight will continue to headline Yokkao 20 but as a non-title fight.
Obviously, the decision made by the officials was not received well by Hodge who, according to his coach, was deeply angered at being denied his title shot. Especially when it was revealed that the officials had reportedly made their decision after Watson’s team had complained that even with a two hour extension, Hodge had not weighed-in at exactly 70kg which, was a strict condition to be adhered-to, for the title to be defended.
Below, Liam Harrison and Jordan Watson talk about their fights against Fabio Pinca and Ben Hodge at the Yokkao 19 & 20 weigh-ins:
Liam Harrison vs Fabio Pinca headlines Yokkao 19 on October 8 at the Bolton Macron stadium in England. Both men have beaten every top contender in Europe and have accumulated +200 fights between them.
This clash between two of the greatest Muay Farangs of the modern era, has been one of the most anticipated match-ups for over a decade and is finally about to happen this weekend, to the delight of Muay Thai fans around the world.
Speaking to Anoop Hothi on the K1ANOOP podcast, Harrison was complimentary of Pinca, describing him as a good allrounder. ‘The Hitman’ knows that it will be a close fight on Saturday and that it could very well ‘come down to who is sharper on the night’ in securing a win for either fighter.
However, when the subject of sparring, pre-fight medicals and a year of loses in 2013 was discussed, Harrison reflected on having once failed a brain scan for GLORY Kickboxing prior to his fight at GLORY 5 against Mosab Amrani:
“I got stopped against Mosab [Amrani]. I didn’t even train for a month. I’d failed a brain scan.”
“So, I didn’t train at all and then we were gonna pull me out of the fight. I’d weighed in but I hadn’t really trained, I said: ‘Ricard [Smith – his coach and manager] what’s happening here?’ – because I was waiting for the specialist to call me back [for a month before GLORY 5].”
“The day before the fight, the specialist rang back and said, ‘I’ve gone over your brain scan, you’re fine’. So I thought, oh sh-t, I’m going to fight here. I hadn’t trained whatsoever and you can tell from my body shape and everything, I wasn’t in shape at all.”
“I was gonna pull out and probably should’ve done really.”
Harrison explained that two separate Doctors had reviewed the brain scan at two different points in time – the first being on the day that the brain scan was taken (a month before GLORY 5) when he was told that the had failed the medical. The second opinion from an alternative Doctor was not received until the day before fighting Amrani two years ago (after the weigh-ins).
Fortunately, ‘The Hitman’ has had annual brain scans since then which, have given him a clean bill of health. These have also been one of the pre-fight medical requirements of other global promotions such as Yokkao that he has fought for since GLORY.
The Yokkao 19 clash with Fabio Pinca (32 years old) will be the 104th career fight for Liam Harrison who, recently turned 31 years of age earlier this week.
Ky Hollenbeck seems to have taken on the role of the “all around nice guy” of American Muay Thai. While some fighters aren’t known to pull any punches when it comes to talking about things that may bother them, Ky seems to be the more soft spoken and affable of America’s current Muay Thai elite. Consistently praising his opponents, while also taking every fight as a learning experience that will further fuel his growth as a Muay Thai fighter, Ky rarely, if ever, speaks ill of opponents or has a negative opinion on anything for that matter. Maybe it’s because Ky doesn’t come from the somewhat chaotic hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, the concrete jungle of New York, or the sandy adult playgrounds of Las Vegas. Maybe it because Ky lives and trains in San Francisco; the birth place of an American Renaissance that culminated with the 1960’s Summer of Love but still remaining synonymous with the bohemian free loving, free thinking, and laid back philosophies of modern American counterculture.
Ky Hollenbeck is far from ever being labeled a “hippie” but his unique and unorthodox fighting style, which currently has him enjoying an undefeated Muay Thai record of 25-0, is definitely in tune with the uniqueness of his hometown.
I had never spoken to Ky before conducting this interview you are going to listen to below, and while Ky has pretty much always been a nice guy, the criticism he sometimes gets is anything but nice. Because of his unique fighting style, more traditional Muay Thai practitioners tend to scoff and downplay his accomplishments. However, in the end, as different as his fighting style may be, he is consistently defeating seasoned Muay Thai fighters and only looks to continue doing so. Being a traditional Muay Thai practitioner myself, I have to admit that I sometimes don’t think Ky’s style is the prettiest demonstration of technique I have ever seen but regardless this is a sport where what you do in the ring, and not what people say outside it, is what really matters. And in that case Ky has truly earned every accolade he has attained in his career.
I found Ky to be a very down-to-earth guy that loves to fight, loves to represent his country, but overall looks to continue to learn from every fight and every opponent. He is definitely a genuine character and I definitely became a bigger fan after speaking with him. He is a great ambassador for the sport and has without any doubt earned his place as one of America’s top nakmuays. Check out the interview below!