In this episode of the podcast Vinny & Eric are joined by Kickboxing journalist Anoop Hothi, also known as K1Anoop. A blogger, writer, journalist, and avid Twitter user, K1Anoop has been covering the Muay Thai and Kickboxing scene in the UK and in Europe for quite some time. A huge fan of K1/Glory rules Kickboxing, we talk to Anoop about the recent Glory Collision card, Enfusion, how promotions can better broadcast their product, and so much more! We also talk a bit about how screwdrivers seem to be the weapon of choice in street fights in the UK, how Eric has never been to a strip club, and other such nonsense. We had fun with this one and lost track of time a bit! Enjoy!
Asa Ten Pow was on the wrong end of a decision loss against Carlton Lieu in what was one of the (if not most) entertaining fights of the night at MTGP 6 – Muay Thai Grand Prix, in the O2 Indigo, London on October 15.
Lieu was outmuscled for the majority of the fight and on the back foot as Pow continually came forward with a variety of striking skill including, some very crafty spinning backs kicks to the body. However, the first three rounds were not scored in Pow’s favour by all of the judges; and these were the rounds in which Pow had much success with: effective teeps (front / push kicks) to the body, imbalancing Lieu, clinching and use of elbows.
In the fourth and fifth rounds, Lieu fared much better against Pow especially as he was noticeably countering more often (than the first three rounds) to most of Pow’s attacks. The American’s industrious output fight have marginally decreased in the latter two rounds but overall, the fight was very close but many fans would seem to strongly disagree with the decision.
The decision win for Lieu secures a future title shot for the Lion Fight light-welterweight championship in the new year (date to be confirmed). However, a rematch between the two in the near future would be just – especially if it were on US soil under the Lion Fight banner. Both Lion Fight and MTGP are in-partnership to promote international Muay Thai as Scott Kent and Kieran Keddle explained (separately) at MTGP 5 earlier this year which, was headlined by John Wayne Parr defeating Pavlos Kaponis by decision.
In the main event of the evening, Salah Khalifa defeated Giannis Tsigkos in another close affair. Tsigkos, fought valiantly and was very handy with his boxing (for Thai boxing) prowess but Salah’s kicking was the notable difference between the two fighters. However, Tsigkos made it a very tough night for Salah who, as the fight reached the latter rounds, significantly improved with his evasiveness from the Greek’s attacks.
The fight could be described as kicker vs puncher at times. Tsigkos fought valiantly and made it a very tough fight for the new 69kg MTGP world champion. In the latter two rounds though, Salah’s slick and evasive movement came into play as he was able to read more of Tsigkos’s attacks and avoid being hit too often.
However, Tsigkos and his corner were ‘disappointed for the decision and believed he won’ the fight and that it ‘wasn’t very close’. Tsigkos believed he not only attacked more but also landed more effective strikes that should have scored the fight in his favour. In his post-fight interview, he made it clear that he wants a swift rematch to ideally be arranged on the next MTGP event which, should be confirmed for later this year in Greece.
Bernise Alldis successfully defended her 57kg MTGP world championship against Elna Nilsson with another dominant win by decision. A lot has happened for Alldis away from the sport since losing to Tiffany van Soest at Lion Fight 22. However, now she’s back fighting, it really is about time Alldis was given more opportunities to fight in the USA on Lion Fight; where she would undoubtedly face more challenging opponents across the Atlantic than outside of the US in the current climate.
Ash Uddin steamrolled Jamie Ahern to emphatically KO him (via body shots) within the first minute of round one. There was no feeling out process as you may expect in the opening round of full Thai rules. Uddin explained in his post-fight interview, how he had decided on a very aggressive approach after noticing Ahern had looked like he’d been through a gruelling weight cut, having weighed-in a kilo lighter than him the day before.
Kelly Haines had a superb performance to win the 52kg ISKA K1 rules English title against, Mina Lamoure. In what was only her fourth fight, Haines displayed the skill set and self-confidence that we would expect from a more seasoned veteran in the ring. It wasn’t just her spinning back-fists and hook kicks that were threatening (and landed), they were thrown at the right time too when for example, Lamoure would be on the back foot near the ropes.
Muay Thai Grand Prix 6 – Results:
Salah Khalifa def. Giannis Tsigkos via UD for, 69kg MTGP world title (FTR)
Bernise Alldis def. Elna Nilsson via UD, retains 57kg MTGP world championship (FTR)
Mateusz Duczmal def. Adam Hart via UD, 94kg (K1 rules)
Carlton Lieu def. Asa Ten Pow via UD, 63.5kg (FTR), secures Lion Fight light-welterweight title shot
Ryan Li def. Pedro Luque by TKO (round 1), 80kg (FTR)
Evan Jays def. Lauge Petersen by UD, 51kg (FTR)
Pablo Ben def. Paul Benson by UD, 70kg (FTR)
Ash Uddin def. Jamie Ahern by TKO round 1, 48kg (FTR)
Michael Pham def. Brett Webster by split decision, 68kg (FTR)
Kelly Haynes def. Mina Lamoure by UD (K1 rules) for, 52kg ISKA English title
Marcos Diaz Perez def. Alex Beck by UD, 70kg (FTR)
Yokkao 19 & 20 – Post event review: ‘Pinca The Conqueror’ humbles Harrison and Watson ‘sherlocks’ Hodge
Fabio Pinca returned to the UK on, October 8 and secured a unanimous decision win over home favourite, Liam Harrison at Yokkao 19. These two legends of western Muay Thai were supposed to fight one another in France over the last 11 years, with Pinca suggesting in his post weigh-in interview that Harrison wasn’t too keen on taking the fight outside of the UK in the past.
The opening round was cagey with both fighters feeling each other out to begin with but from the second round onwards the tempo accelerated and both would increasingly engage one another. Pinca managed to cut Harrison on his left cheek (below the eye) in the third but the ring-craft, speed and tenacity displayed by both men was sensational. However, range control, switch hitting and that left kick of Pinca’s were decisive factors for the decision going against Harrison who, was always threatening with his explosiveness, fast hands and deadly low kicks.
Having previously defeated Reece McAllister at the Tanko Main Event in May (by decision), plus, Charlie Peters on Lion Fight 27 in the USA (at the start of the year) and now Harrison at Yokkao 19, ‘Pinca The Conqueror’ is clearly at the height of his powers. At 65 kg, it isn’t too easy to think of who else could even ask more challenging questions of him.
In his post-fight interview with K1ANOOP, Pinca confirmed he’d signed a multiple fight deal with GLORY Kickboxing and will next fight on the GLORY Collision event headlined by, Badr Hari vs Rico Verhoeven in Germany on, December 10.
Jordan Watson didn’t hesitate to show what his hands could do against Ben Hodge with some lovely body hooks landing throughout the fight. Hodge was under more pressure than Watson but the fight was by no means a one sided affair. Hodge was coming off a recent win over Saiyok Pumphanmuang at Thai Fight London in September, where he demonstrated his technical proficiency and good counterattacking skills on the back step. Something that would have given Watson more problems on the night (had Hodge found his range sooner) in-preparation for Giorgio Petrosyan who, he faces next at the Bellator Kickboxing event on December 10 in Italy.
However, Hodge admitted in his post-fight interview that his emotions got the better of him in the ring – triggered off by the weigh-in drama the day before which, resulted in the fight no longer being a title defence for, Watson’s 70kg Yokkao world championship. Hodge summed up perfectly that both himself and Watson are intelligent fighters with intelligent coaches, so, the fight was always going to be determined by who, was more successful, in applying their tactical approach on the night at Yokkao 20.
Manachai surprisingly bulldozed his way through Panicos Yusuf for five rounds which, certainly came as a shock considering that Panicos is no pushover and can certainly stand his ground. Most of what Panicos tried to pull off on the night didn’t have any real impact on Manachai and it was as if the Thai was at times playfully throwing Panicos around – something I wouldn’t have fought would happen so easily. However, whenever the Thais come to fight in the UK, they always seem extra determined to give the Brits a damn good hiding.
Maybe it wasn’t Panicos’s night and anything that could go wrong for him unfortunately did which, can happen. Or, is Manachai actually a hell of a lot better than the matchmakers had thought he was? Also, Panicos has become a lot more involved in the commercial world of combat sports as one of three directors of Tanko Management – has his commercial ambition taken away some of his hunger to fight like he use to?
Jack Kennedy continues to build even more momentum with his unanimous decision win over the powerfully talented Nathan Bendon. These two top quality fighters fought like a pair of tigers in the ring and the fight was full of entertaining yet technical violence. The bout was even dubbed as ‘fight of the night’ by colour commentator, Vinny Shoreman which, certainly sums ups how stacked the overall fight card was, especially when considering the likes of, Harrison and Pinca were one of two main events.
Bendon started well in the first couple of rounds but as the fight eventually went the distance, Kennedy was more efficient with his overall Thai boxing and seemed to frustrate Bendon. The future is very bright for both fighters, especially for Kennedy who, had recently won a 4-man Super Muay Thai tournament in Thailand prior to Yokkao 19 & 20.
Steven Long tremendously turned around his fight against Daniel Jedrzejezski after being cut in the outer corner of his right eye, in a terrible opening round for Long. However from the second round onwards it was all bout Long’s effective clinch-knee entry to pressure and eventually dominate Jedrzejezski.
By the end of the third round, Long’s clinching was proving too difficult for Jedrzejezski to deal with who, found himself on the end of another knee to the body that dropped him to the canvas. After surviving the count, he would find himself on the end of yet another knee but was fortunately saved by the bell as he buckled in discomfort. However, when the fourth round started it didn’t take long for Long to land another knee to Jedrzejezski’s body and the fight was over.
Overall, Yokkao 19 & 20 was without a doubt the best Muay Thai event of the year so far to be hosted in the UK, with exceptionally talented fighters showcasing their skill on both fight cards. Also, Harrison is reportedly set to return to action next month with further details to follow in due course.
As for the UK, if it hasn’t already established itself as a very strong nation for both Muay Thai (and K1 rules) yet to the rest of the world then apart from mainstream media coverage for the casual fans to take note, Thai boxing purists and global promotions can no longer ignore the UK scene; fast emerging as a global leader in the sport.
Yokkao 19 – Results:
Fabio Pinca def. Liam Harrison via UD, -65kg
Chris Shaw def. Jersey Pinto via UD, fight set at 73kg
Charles Sikwa def, Darren Howieson by UD, -86kg
Adi Woods def. Owen Trykowski via UD, -72.5kg
Steven Long def. Daniel Jedrzejewski by KO, Rd4, -69kg
Yokkao 20 – Results:
Jordan Watson def. Ben Hodge via UD, -70kg
Manachai def. Panicos Yusuf via UD, -63kg
Jake Purdy def. Brad Stanton via MD, fight set at 69kg
Amy Pirnie def. Ludivine Lesnier via TKO, Rd2, -50kg
Jack Kennedy def Nathan Bendon via UD, -65kg
Myk Estlick def. Carlos Campos via UD, -61.5kg
Over the last couple of years, China has emerged as a regular destination point for international combat sports, especially kickboxing.
However, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when taking into consideration two main factors: Firstly, the ageless history of martial arts tradition and knowledge that has originated from China; and secondly, the fact that the Chinese economy has grown tremendously over the last decade and a half (despite any uncertainties it may currently face).
The two main Chinese fight promotions that are well known outside of China are Kunlun Fight and WLF. Both have the ability to attract international kickboxers to fight in China and have had the likes of, current GLORY heavyweight champion, Rico Verhoeven and former GLORY featherweight champion, Gabriel Varga fighting in China.
Recent events by both Kunlun Fight and Wu Lin Feng (WLF) have included the following match-ups:
Kunlun Fight 43 (15th April 2016):
Artur Kyshenko vs Murthel Groenhart
A rematch between two titans from their previous encounter in the, K-1 Max 70 kg Tournament Final in 2012 which Groenhart won by KO, and the two of them had been training partners at the time at Mike’s Gym. Kyshenko would get the better of Groenhart this time via unanimous decision (UD) after an extra round.
Sittichai Sitsongpeenong vs Mohammed Hamicha Moojte
This was the 4-man (qualifying) tournament final on the night, which for the winner, would secure a place in the 8-man Tournament later in the year. Sittichai is widely regarded as the best kickboxing /Thai boxing lightweight in the world right now and has given plenty of elite kickboxers in his weight class a torrid time. However, Moojte, who is based in the Netherlands, gave Sittichai a rough time and even knocked him down in the first round with an uppercut. Sittichai would secure the win eventually after an extra round by UD, but Moojte’s profile has significantly increased since then (his name was spelt differently by Kunlun as ‘Mohammed Mezouari’).
WLF – Glory of Heroes (2nd April 2016):
Isreal Adesanya vs Alex Pereira <==CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO OF FIGHT
Adesanya is from New Zealand and is a very skillful and exciting kickboxer to watch who, is also pursuing a career in MMA as well. Pereira is a Brazilian kickboxer who, made the transition from boxing to kickboxing in recent years. Both have fought for GLORY in the past and have come a long way since then. The winner by unanimous decision was Pereira, which did surprise me at the time.
Enriko Kehl vs Yi Long <==CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO OF FIGHT
Yi Long is probably the most famous Chinese kickboxing monk in the world and Kehl is the K-1 World Max 2014 Tournament winner (as a result of Buakaw leaving the ring when an extra round was called for) and is from Germany. Four of Kehl’s last six fights have either been under the Kunlun or WLF banner, however, Yi Long would get the win by unanimous decision.
Josh Jauncey vs Xu Yan
Josh Jauncey KO’s Xu Yan in R3 at WLF: Glory of Heroes pic.twitter.com/eT1F3ehMaQ
— caposa (@GrabakaHitman) April 2, 2016
British Canadian kickboxer, Josh Jauncey, was the winner by delivering a devastating left head kick knockout in the third round. Jauncey has been on a recent run of good form since his loss (by unanimous decision) to Giorgio Petrosyan at GLORY 25 last year. As for Xu Yan, he is a multiple Sanhsou Chinese champion and was the more experienced fighter having fought in Japan for ‘K-1’ as far back as 2008.
Fabio Pinca vs Yinghua Tie <==CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO OF FIGHT
French-Italian Muay Thai legend, Fabio Pinca, who had previously won the Lion Fight welterweight title in 2013 by decision over Malaipet Sasiprapa, had been on a five fight win streak prior to this fight but lost by split decision to the home fighter.
Andrei Ostrovanu vs Zhang Dezheng
Ostrovanu is of Romanian descent (but if I am correct, has grown up in England) and won by unanimous decision. He is a young kick boxer who, I can recall was fighting on regional kickboxing shows here in the UK with some powerful performances not too long and then went onto fight Mohammed Jaraya in Enfusion (he lost that fight by stoppage but he certainly challenged Jaraya)
As for Dezheng (the home fighter), from what I’ve seen of him in his fight a couple of years ago with the explosive Australian, Brad Riddell, he’s a durable fighter and no pushover.
Here is his fight with Riddell:
From the above seven match-ups, 10 of the 14 fighters are known reasonably well in the western world by kickboxing enthusiasts.
The quality of international kickboxing match-ups by the Chinese has certainly been of a very good level – some may say that they have even managed to deliver better match-ups than GLORY at times.
It certainly is very interesting times for kickboxing in China and with regular shows throughout the year being hosted by the Chinese – especially Kunlun – it can only help the sport of kickboxing to develop on a global scale which has been a struggle in recent years since the financial crisis a few years ago that brought ‘K-1’ to its knees and the rapid growth and popularity of MMA.
Kunlun aren’t complacent with simply hosting events in China alone. They recently hosted Kunlun Fight 44 on the 14th May in Russia and their following event, Kunlun Fight 45, will be in South Korea on the 22nd May 2016, before they then return to China on the 6th June 2016.
Can the Chinese sustain a financially viable operation of not only promoting international kickboxing events and a spectacle of a show, while continuing to attract a wealth of fighting talent from around the world? Only time will tell but I know that I’m certainly not the only one that hopes that they will, for the sake of breathing long term life back into the world of kickboxing.