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!
Bellator 168, Florence – Kevin Ross: Bellator Kickboxing ‘doing it smart’ and amazed by mainstream exposure
Bellator Kickboxing returns to action on December 10 via Bellator 168, in the historic city of Florence, Italy. Kevin Ross will be taking on Alessio Arduino in what “The Soul Assassin” hopes will be a more technical fight compared to his previous visit to Italy when he defeated, Matteo Taccini via unanimous decision at Bellator 152. Also featuring on the Florence kickboxing card will be: Joe Schilling vs. Victorio Germano and Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Jordan Watson.
2016 has been a resurgent year for both kickboxing and Muay Thai with various global promotions such as: GLORY, Enfusion Live, Bellator Kickboxing, Kunlun Fight, Muay Thai Grand Prix, Yokkao, Thai Fight and Lion Fight, accumulating more mainstream media exposure (in the western world) than ever before for both rule sets of the striking arts.
Kevin Ross had recently guested on the Joe Rogan Experience with Gaston Bolaños following Lion Fight 31, in an excellent podcast that educated a much wider and different audience than both CSA Gym fighters normally have, about the difference in not only Muay Thai and kickboxing but also, the level of real world class striking compared to MMA. Most importantly, such media exposure (and more) is exactly what both sports need, in order to enhance the profile to the same level that pro boxing and MMA benefit from.
“Looking back to the majority of my career I never thought I’d still be fighting while kickboxing and muay thai was getting this kind of exposure. I never thought I’d be fighting on TV, ever! So for it to be happening and for it to be happening while I’m still active and a high level is amazing to me. You know I think back to not that long ago there was like, I don’t know if this was ever gonna happen.”
Ross was also optimistic about the long term direction in which Bellator Kickboxing were headed in and credited the promotion for not rushing too soon without first developing their brand of kickboxing and most importantly, their own kickboxing superstars that will generate a bigger fanbase into the future and safeguard the promotion’s viability too.
“This show is going to be amazing you know like I was saying before, its a little frustrating how slow it seems to be going but thats the way you have to do things correctly in order to build them up.”
“Thats the mistake a lot of promoters make and have made is that they try to go too big too early. They didn’t take the time to build up their talent, local talent, their exposure and then they do this giant show and then nobody shows up and they lose all their money and they’re gone forever. So, Bellator’s been really doing it smart, taking their time, you know, pulling in the big stars when they can and kinda slowly building their resume, its great to be a part of.”
Bellator 168 – Bellator Kickboxing, Florence:
Lightweight: Giorgio Petrosyan (82-2-2, 1 NC) vs. Jordan Watson (48-11-2)
Flyweight: Denise Kielholtz (45-3) vs. Gloria Peritore (11-1-1)
Lightweight: Kevin Ross (31-9) vs. Alessio Arduini (26-14-2)
Middleweight: Joe Schilling (19-9) vs. Victorio Lermano (30-7)
Welterweight: Karim Ghajji (96-13-1) vs. Luca Novello (22-4-2)
Ognjen Topic recently fought Muay Thai legend, Saenchai, last month at Yokkao 22 in Honk Kong and unfortunately, lost by decision. There aren’t many Farangs that are given much of a chance in the minds of Thai boxing fans when matched-up against the +400 fight veteran but then again, Topic is regarded as ‘one of the best technically gifted Thai fighters’ of the current crop (by none other than Damien Trainor who, was coaching at CSA Gym during November).
However, Topic himself was the first to admit that the fight didn’t unfold anywhere as what he would’ve liked or had planned:
“I’m not happy at all about the fight but we’re talking about a guy that’s been doing it for a very long time and he has quite a bit more experience than I do so, I’m trying to stay positive. It’s difficult especially when you’re competitive individual.”
“Before the fight and during the fight I felt great mentally, physically you know. I didn’t look at him as some, some god of Muay Thai. I just looked at him as an opponent and I prepared myself as I always do. I went into the fight with the mentality of winning and even when I was in the fight, you know it was difficult, I still wanted to beat him so, that’s that.”
It’s interesting that Topic mentioned the ‘mentality of fighting’ because not only is it fair to say that fighting is 99% in the mind but so is having the self-belief and aptitude in achieving our life goals and dreams too. Self doubt can really cripple fighters mentality; a good example of this would be the way how pro boxer, Nicholas Walters surrendered after six rounds against Vasyl Lomachenko, over the weekend in Las Vegas. Topic explained what he does away from the gym in his spare time to help him mentally with moving forward in his fighting career.
“Another thing I like to do is sometime if I have some downtime is I go on YouTube and look up documentaries on any businessman. You know I like I’m into cars so I’ll go look up the guy that started the company Koenigsegg, you know an exotic car company or Pagani. So, you kinda just listen to how they talk and how they began these things, their story and their dreams and how everything came to fruition. Then it kinda you know puts things into perspective you can follow this steps as well from other people and then you can learn from them.”
“So it really doesn’t matter what profession it is, you can always take something away from any I guess, elite person, on that high level that has that mentality to be persistent and dedicated to their craft.”
Muay Thai is one of the oldest forms of fighting and as a professional sport, doesn’t gain the high levels of mainstream media coverage compared to pro boxing. The likes of Joe Schilling and Kevin Ross have both previously voiced the difficulties that they’ve faced in their careers before the emergence of GLORY, Lion Fight, Bellator Kickboxing and Muay Thai Grand Prix in recent years. Even kickboxing has struggled especially since the “Golden era” of the ‘old skool’ K-1 days in Japan.
However the tide would seem to be turning for both Muay Thai and kickboxing especially now that the UFC have, for the first time ever, partnered with another sporting promotion i.e. GLORY Kickboxing to be their PPV online media partner via UFC Fight Pass for streaming, GLORY Collision: Rico Verhoeven vs Badr Hari.
Even UFC colour commentator, Joe Rogan has been voicing his support and love for K1/Thai rules and recently had Kevin Ross, Gaston Bolanos and their coach (CSA Gym owner), Kieran Fitzpatrick on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast which, Topic was delighted about for the long term benefit of the sport.
“It was great. I really hope that a lot of people tuned in. Kevin Ross really gave a really good explanation on you know, Muay Thai and the difference between the striking between Muay Thai and MMA and it pretty much how all of us Muay Thai fighters feel you know but we never really have a stage to say that; and I think he kinda opened up Joe Rogan’s eyes as well, you know with clinch and things like that because it doesn’t seem like a lot of those guys understand and know the difference between the two, the two sports. So its great that they were on the show and they were able to kind of give that differentiation.”
In this episode of The Striking Corner, Vinny and Eric speak with New York based professional Muay Thai fighter Brett Hlavacek. Brett is a fighter with over 20 professional Muay Thai fights who has fought for Glory, Lion Fight, Warriors Cup, and more! He recently signed a contract with Lion Fight and will be fighting at Lion Fight 33 on Nov. 18th. Vinny and Eric talk a little bit about everything with Brett including New York rent prices, the Jersey Shore, why Vinny continues to think MMA ruins everything, Lion Fight, Muay Thai rules, and a whole lot more! Brett is a fun guy to talk to and a hell of a fighter, you don’t want to miss this one!
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
In this episode we speak with none other than “The Soul Assassin” & “El Presidente” Kevin Ross! He is a man that needs no introduction. A true American Muay Thai Legend, Kevin Ross has faced the best of the best, and win, lose, or draw always brings an exciting fight. He is a fan favorite for reasons that go beyond fighting. He is simply an passionate, inspirational athlete. In this episode we discuss the Lion Fight controversy surrounding Tiffany Van Soest, his recent WMC Intercontinental win over Leandro Duarte, his recent signing for Bellator Kickboxing, the pressure of being considered “America’s Best Muay Thai Fighter”, and much. much, more! Enjoy!