Lion Fight 10 brought a action pakced night of Muay Thai to AXS TV this past Friday. Tiffany Van Soest picked up the night’s only stoppage when she scored the TKO in the first round over Lucy Payne. For her troubles, Van Soest got a new shiny belt and beca,e Lion Fight’s first female flyweight champion. There were five other fights including the main event for the Lion Fight middleweight title between Yodsanklai Fairtex (184-71-4) and Chike Lindsay (24-2). That is five fights going the distance for twenty five rounds of some sweet sick Muay Thai, plus you have Micheal Schiavello and Pat Miletech calling the action. Let’s take a look back at some of it.
The first fight of the night featured Jason Andrada (2-0) versus J.P. Cole (0-0). Even though Andrada had only two more professional fights than the debuting Cole he looked like a seasoned veteran in this fight by comparison. Both fighters are athletic but that is where the similarities end. Cole had a lot of flash with very little substance. He used very little feints or fakes. Often it seemed that he was pre-determined to execute a move or technique whether it was there or not. He did display some excellent quickness and power at times but it was one punch or kick at a time. Andrada was able to read them and avoid taking any real damage most of the time.
Where Cole often wasted his energy in movements that were showy and more suited to a movie, Andrada was pure efficiency. Every movement, fake, feint and technique had a purpose behind it. He was two or three steps ahead throughout this fight. He caught Cole’s kicks and dumped him numerous times. Almost everything with Andrada was a combination, he rarely threw a single kick or punch. The movement from Andrada was also advanced utilizing lateral movement to avoid Cole’s power but still controlling the fight with his patient aggression and pace. He also had a radar like ability to find Cole’s liver with his left hand and shin dropping with a kick there in the closing seconds of the third round. With about a minute to go in the round Cole had his best flurry where he landed several punches and kicks. He looked to have Andrada in trouble up against the ropes. Then he backed away and visibly took a deep breath and the moment was gone. The liver kick from Andrada came at the end of a left jab, right body punch, then a half a beat left kick with pinpoint accuracy to the side. Cole slowly crumpled to the ground. If it had come with a little more time left in the round it might have ended the fight.
The fight goes the distance and Andrada took home the easy UD. Throughout the fight Cole showed flashes of potential as he has great speed and power. He needs to work on his cardio and the ability to put combinations together. Once he learns how to set some of those kicks up he could really start to do some damage. Andrada continues to impress and has a very bright future in front of him. The highlight reel KO eluded him this time out but he looked sharp controlling the fight and making it look easy.
The last time we saw Ognjen Topic (7-3) he was knocking out Muay Thai legend Paowarit Sasiprapa (150-18) early in the second round of their Lion Fight 9 matchup. That shocking KO let the fight world know that Topic was legit. For Lion Fight 10 he once again got to face another Muay Thai legend in Coke Chunhawat (148-28-1). While this fight went the distance it was still an impressive SD victory for Topic over another tough opponent.
This was an even match with both fighters looking sharp. Chunhawat clearly did not take Topic lightly. The fight was competitive throughout with Topic edging out the first three rounds and Chunhawat coming on strong to take the last two. There was a distinct difference in Chunhawat in the fourth and fifth rounds. He was more aggressive, quicker, sharper and you have to wonder why he did not do any of this in the earlier rounds.
It was his aggression coming forward that really allowed him to control the last two rounds. There was an advantage for Chunhawat in the clinch and at close range. He was able to land the more effective elbows. In the earlier three rounds Topic was able to keep the fight more at a distance where he utilized his jab and kicks to score. It was a tough fight to score in that the first three rounds are very close and competitive. The last two are much more clearly Chunhawat’s as he starts to take control of the fight. You just have to wonder what happens if he turned it up a round or two earlier.
You have to respect Sean Kearney (23-7) who stepped up on just two days notice to take this rematch against another Muay Thai legend Malaipet Sasiprapa (147-27-6) who turned pro at the age of eight years old. So when most of us were learning the basics of school in third grade, he was already fighting professionally. How do we know that Malaipet is a certified bad ass? He is known by one name and he has the nickname “The Diamond.” Schiavello informs us, “They don’t call him The Diamond because he is flashy. They call him The Diamond because he is hard.” He continued with, “The legs of Malaipet are something to behold.” They are quite the sight. His calves are the size of most people’s thighs. If getting hit with a shin is like getting hit with a baseball bat, then Malaipet has an aluminum one.
The power and force of Malaipet’s kicks are just one of the reasons Kearney gets a lot of credit for taking this fight on just days notice. He knows how nasty those kicks and knees are when they land, and yet he jumped right in to meet this challenge. He was hungry for the win and fought a tough fight, battling until the final bell. It is to his credit that he was able to make it a difficult fight. Malaipet was just at a different skill level.
He is a complete Muay Thai fighter who scores effectively at all ranges, utilizing a dazzling array of techniques. Several of which were on display when he knocked Kearney down in the opening moments of the second round. Malaipet threw a rear right kick to the body that Kearney blocked and avoided. He simultaneously tossed out a straight right hand and then flowed into a clinch. From there he secured Kearney’s left arm with his right and pulled him in and off balance. At the same time he launched and torqued his left elbow into Kearney’s jaw dropping him to the canvas. The sequence came with the same ease and naturalness of a shark swimming and striking. It gave Kearney a chance to show his toughness as he got up and not only made it out of the round, but he went the distance.
It is Kearney’s reaction when they read the scores that illustrate a night of some screwy scores. The first score read is one judge having it 47-47. Kearney is confused as is everyone else who watched the fight. The next two judges have it 48-46 and 49-45 for Malaipet who takes the MD. Everyone, including Kearney agrees with this decision. He was able to match Malaipet’s heart and toughness, but not his skill level.
The Matt Embree (27-4) and Kevin Ross (26-8) was not about different skill levels and more about their contrasting styles. In this case it is the perfect blend of styles that gave us an awesome fight. It was one that was destined to leave one fighter disappointed. Both fighters thought they did enough to win but neither did enough to clearly claim that territory. We are left with a beautiful display of Muay Thai artistry. A tale told simultaneously by two authors, from two points of view. It is an outcome that can be argued easily for either side. In this case Ross was disappointed and Embree walked away with the UD.
This was a classic aggressive fighter in Ross who is dynamic, explosive and was pressing the action the whole fight. On the other side of this battle is Embree the picture of a counter puncher who uses movement to slip shots and set up his own. The power and higher pace was an advantage for Ross while Embree relies more on accuracy and a slower more measured speed, picking his shots.
This fight started out slow in the first round. They went through a feeling out process and neither fight really did anything significant making it a very difficult round to score. The second round they picked up the pace dramatically. They both threw numerous nasty elbows and knees. There was a consistent barrage of kicks and punches as well. The increase in action did not make the fight an easier to score. Now they both were landing more blows but again at a very similar pace. After three rounds Miletech has it 2-1 Embree and Schiavello comments that all three rounds are close and could go either way. From there on out it looked like Ross took control of the fight. The fourth round is the easier to score as he did more than Embree. Ross is still pushing the pace and if anything his energy level is still going up at the end. It also was clearly Ross’ round in the fifth as it ended with him pummeling Embree with his knees. Embree looked exhausted at the end while Ross looked fresh and ready to go another round.
When the scores are read Ross is of course visibly upset and Embree is happy to get the tough win. You had to feel a little for Ross it was clear he was the one who drug Embree into possibly the most exciting fight of Embree’s career. It is a situation where you can maybe somehow give the first three rounds to Embree. You cannot deny that Ross did more damage in the last two rounds. Schiavello mentioned the possibility of a rematch in the future and that seems necessary as neither fighter can feel truly satisfied with this decision.
The main event for the middleweight title featured Chike Lindsay versus the living Muay Thai legend Yodsanklai Fairtex . Before the fight Miletech and Schiavello were talking about the devastation that Fairtex’ rear leg kick can bring to an opponent. It will break bones if you get hit with it solid and cleanly in the wrong spot. Malaipet’s legs were impressive but Fairtex’ are even more awe inspiring. They not only looked the part but they landed with audible body shivering thuds throughout the fight. Again it was a fight that Lindsay gains respect for going the distance with a devastating fighter of Fairtex’ quality.
Right from the opening of the fight Lindsay shows his fighting spirit. He is pushing the action and does not seemed intimidated by the legend of his opponent. Unfortunately for Lindsay the myth is reality and Fairtex is as great as advertised. Lindsay is able to use his quickness, jab and athleticism to take the first round. He is effective at the long range distance where he can use the advantages that he enjoys. That is his best moment in the fight.
In the second round Fairtex started to take over the fight. It was a close round but Fairtex controlled the distance better and fought in close where he was the superior fighter. It effectively negated Lindsay’s speed advantage. Fairtex was also consistently landing the rear leg chopping away at Lindsay. As the fight progressed Fairtex grew stronger and just took over the fight. He started opening up cuts on Lindsay’s face in the third. This continued until the end of the fight creating a bloody mask for Lindsay, who once again just coming out for the fifth round showed tremendous heart and courage from him. In this case he was just up again one of the greats in Fairtex.
It was another exciting night of Muay Thai action on AXS TV courtesy of Lion Fight 10. Two champions were crowned. One the rising young superstar Tiffany Van Soest, the other living Muay Thai legend Yodsanklai Fairtex. There were four other entertaining and action packed fights with Schiavello and Miletech providing their colorful insights. Lion Fight 11 will be on September 20th and fight fans are already anxiously awaiting the announcement of what will be another action packed night of Muay Thai awesomeness brought to you by AXS TV.
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