Muay Thai Grand Prix

Could Iman Barlow headline Enfusion Live 51 in Canada against Ashley Nichols?

News recently emerged that Dutch kickboxing promotion, Enfusion Live are headed to Canada on July 8, 2017 with further details of the venue for Enfusion Live 51 and the overall fight card, to be announced in due course.

However, Iman Barlow had some very interesting things to say in her post-fight interview after winning the Muay Thai Grand Prix bantamweight title against, Therese Gunnarsson at MTGP 7“Pretty Killer” thinks she could be facing Canadian fighter, Ashley Nichols in her next fight come July 8.

“Maybe Canada. Enfusion Live in Canada which, would be wicked in July. Then Lion Fight hopefully, return to Lion defend that belt end of July.”

“Its a Canadian girl. Ashley Nichols I think, I think, I think. But obviously she’s Canadian so I’m guessing I think it might be her and she’s returning home from Thailand; and she’s a good fighter and obviously we were together on the ‘Reality’. We didn’t fight each other but we were there together, so we will see.”

The kickboxing and Muay Thai platform for international female fights in the North Americas seems to be building momentum, especially with Tiffany Van Soest from California, becoming GLORY Kickboxing‘s first female champion; and GLORY having recently signed multiple world champion, Anissa Meksen.

Both Van Soest and Meksen’s careers enter a very interesting stage this year along with Barlow. All three are widely regarded as three of the very best in their division, with Meksen having a second round stoppage win over “Pretty Killer” in 2014. However, after MTGP 7, she was accused by Iman’s Dad, Mark Barlow, of twice pulling out of rematches with Iman for Enfusion.

Then there’s the beef that’s brewing between Van Soest and Barlow. Tiffany isn’t one to pull her punches when verbally lambasting any of her rivals, especially Barlow, after the latter didn’t sign a GLORY contract due to, alleged miscommunications between her manager, Edwin Van Os (owner of Enfusion Live) and GLORY, over the proposed terms for fighting under the GLORY banner.

The coming weeks and months seem likely to unfold with some interesting developments for all three women and it will be interesting to see if Barlow vs. Van Soest could possibly happen this year, with their being no restrictions for such a match-up by Enfusion. However, Iman’s contract with Enfusion prevents her from fighting Meksen outside of the Dutch promotion, for reason explained in her post-fight interview.

 

Episode 49 – Iman “Pretty Killer” Barlow

In this episode of The Striking Corner podcast, Eric & Vinny speak with current Lion Fight Super Bantamweight Champion and Enfusion 54 kg Champion, Iman Barlow! Iman is currently regarded as one of the top female Muay Thai fighters in the world in her weight class. She has not lost a fight since 2014 and with over 100+ amateur fights and close to 100 professional fights, she has a wealth of experience in the sport yet she is still just 23 years young!

Iman discusses growing up around the sport from the age of 2, her unique childhood as a fighter that travelled the world (the benefits and struggles), women’s Muay Thai, haters, rediscovering her love for Muay Thai after taking time off to be a “wild child”, and so much more. A fun interview all around and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

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 reflects on Saenchai and the ‘mentality of fighting’ for success

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.”

Simon Marcus vs Joe Schilling

Simon Marcus vs Joe Schilling

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.

tsc-ep-39-gaston-bolanos“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.”

 

Muay Thai Grand Prix 6 – Roundup and results: Asa Ten Pow loses controversial decision

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.

Who's next for Bernise Alldis?

Who’s next for Bernise Alldis?

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)