Sunday, May 13, 2012

Congrats to Simon and Matt (recap)! Fight Night Success!

Fight Night at York Muay Thai was a success! We had Southside, Kombat, Elite, Siam No.1, Training Ground, TKMT and Victory MT family over for some friendly sparring. The floor was covered with Muay Thai students sparring and learning with each other. 

A big thanks to all the YMT volunteers who helped run things!

Now on to the fight recaps...

*bear in mind that these are based off purely memory, which can be faulty at times.. ya know!*

Matt vs Nils:

Round 1: Matt started in what most of us recognized/expected to be a traditional Thai "slow start". Mostly a tight defense as Nils came in hard with combinations. Nils looked sharp with his hands, throwing fluidly in combinations. Matt was content to throw a few kicks in retaliation, but for the most part appeared to be observing as he absorbed the opposition's fire.

Round 2: Nils continued to press the attack with his combinations, and it started to become clear that Matt was not returning fire often enough to even out the score. As tight as his defense was, the round seemed definitely lost for Matt, and it became clear that he needed to make a statement in the next 3 rounds to pull a decisive win. With these 2 rounds down, you could only trust that he was going to step it up Thai style.

The Tipping Point

Round 3: Sure enough, Matt came out with a noticeable spring in his step, and started to throw what felt like more than he had in the last 2 rounds combined. Starting with some single leg kicks, he sliced through Nils' thigh like a razor. Matt then used some simple long range punch combinations that allowed him to close distance and take the fight to the clinch. In this arena, Nils' flame began to fade as it was smothered by Matt's elbows and knees. 

Rounds 4 and 5: Matt continued his success with the same formula of the 3rd round. Taking Nils leg with sharp kicks, he transitioned off long punches into a clinch that Nils' could not get off in. It became clear that Matt's advantage came from a stalking ring control that pressed Nils' to the ropes: not allowing Nils' any other choice but to fight in close. Nil's fluidity had become staggered and frozen for the most part, as it appeared that the heavy clinching was draining him of energy. Even when separated, it seemed as if Nils' had lost the pop to fire off the lightning combinations of the first 2 rounds. Until the final bell, Matt continued to force his way in and score with his knees, while slicing up top with elbows. 

With Matt's slow start, especially with the fight being scored outside of Thailand, made for a tense 5 rounds. However, his patience and persistence in that fight was what made it special. 
Nils' defeat came from an almost venomous game plan. The poison slowly but surely took over and crippled his chance of winning.

Matt took the victory by split decision. 

Simon vs Joe

A Shaky Start

Round 1: The bell had rung and both fighters were coming out just as we had expected...Joe pressed forward with Simon countering and tying up in the clinch. It didn't seem like this was going to be a telling round...But with one left hook, that changed. Joe caught Simon with a short punch that didn't make any of us think he was hurt; but out impressions changed as Bad Bwoy would not get up right away, and stayed on one knee to take an 8 count from the ref. It wasn't clear exactly how hurt he was from the strike, but Joe must have caught him pretty damn hard if he needed to take that 8 seconds. He may have just been taking his time to make sure he was fully recovered, but it still meant that the shot was a good one.
Simon seemed like he knew he had to catch up and came out with more aggression following that count. His attack was answered right back by Joe, who knew he had the makings of a KO right there. Simon made it into the clinch, where he was able to get off with some knees before the bell. The shocking first round ended, and it seemed like Simon had recovered from the strike. 

The Tide Turns

Round 2-5:
The rest of the fight was a blur. Simon and Joe came out hard again, and it was clear that neither were really pulling their punches or merely setting something up. Both were throwing 100% power, 100% of the time. Joe got off with some teeps to face, but Simon would not let those go without giving his own foot a chance to feel Joe's nose. 

Simon, like Matt, found his ace in the hole when he clinched up. Joe mostly tried to get space to elbow, but Simon had preferred a tight body lock and scored hard with skip knees. In this range, Joe was stifled and could do little to answer back. Simon's performance here was reminiscent of Matt's, as he dominated the close space and seemed to drain his opponent's energy. After his lengthy volleys of knees, Simon would throw Joe to the canvas (without anyone's head being landed on). 

With clinch clearly not being in Joe's favour, Joe did his best to keep the fight at range, utilizing some teeps and landing a few straight rights. Simon would press forward though and was not letting himself become outdone on the outside game. He would walk Joe to the ropes and unleash his lead left kick to Joe's body multiple times. These exchanges were largely a prelude to the clinch though. Eventually, both fighters would lock up and Simon would score his points through knees and throws.

In the last stanza of the fight, both fighters looked visible tired (5 rounds ain't a walk in the park folks). The big difference between them though, was in their movement. Simon, despite visible fatigue, bounded forward with hunger to initiate, while Joe was mostly peddling on the back foot. I'll never forget that look of hunger. After being dropped in the first round, Simon's push to the 5th round and the end of the fight was nothing short of epic. For a fighter that normally dominates his opponents without being caught by anything telling, it was really something to see him chase the prize like that. Real heart.

Simon took a Majority decision (2 judges scored the fight to Simon, the other scored a draw).

Simon now has the WBC Interim World Championship, and the right to fight Artem Levin for the undisputed World Title at "Battle for the Belts" on June 9th, 2012, at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.

That, ladies and gentlemen, was a night of Muay Thai.

*Lion Fight Promotion Pictures by the talented Bennie Palmore and Scott Hirano*

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