On Friday night Lion Fight 11 went down outside at the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas, Nevada and was televised on AXS TV. The night featured some great Muay Thai action with expert commentary by Pat Miletich and Michael Schiavello. Unfortunately, the judging was not up to the same standards. Las Vegas is known as the fight capital but it is quickly becoming the second biggest sad joke in combat sports with its ridiculously bad judging. The first biggest joke is the state of New York allowing itself to be a pawn for a culinary union in their fight against the Fertitta brothers. The result of that joke is no MMA in New York which ultimately cost the state of New York income so they really are screwing themselves for the culinary union and making themselves look ridiculous. The state of Nevada and their refusal to address the inept or corrupt judging is marring the fights and affecting the lives and livelihood of the fighters. Instead of protecting judges who do their jobs poorly how about we protect the people risking their bodies and lives, the fighters. They deserve better than what they got on this night. Fortunately the fights outshone the darkness of the confused judges.
The main event between Cosmo Alexandre (40-14-1) and Nampon (94-35-9) featured two highly skilled fighters who had the mis-fortune of following the scintillating co-main event. Alexandre, who has been fighting in MMA the last few years, was making his first return to Muay Thai in two years and did not suffer from any rust in this fight. He had more power throughout this fight and did more work consistently to take the fight. They both had a lot of respect for each other and never really found or created an opening against the other. Neither fighter was in any serious trouble at any point of this fight. It was a nice solid UD win for Alexandre who apologized unnecessarily after the fight for his performance. It was the type of fight that will get lost compared the co-main event and Cris Justino’s performance. Before those fights there was some other sweet Muay Thai action.
The first fight of the night on AXS TV was also maybe the most ridiculously scored. This was a rematch of a fight that was definitively won by Jose Palacios (7-5) who shattered Scotty Leffler’s (5-5) jaw inside of the opening twenty seconds of it. This one went the distance in what was a close fight but clearly won by Palacios who used some superior footwork and movement to win the fight. Miletich scored the fight 49-47 for Palacios scoring the second even at ten apiece. Somehow Leffler won on all three scorecards one judge scoring it 48-47, the other two an incredulous 49-46. Which leads to Schiavello saying, “Unbelievable. The poor judging in Las Vegas continues. Scotty Leffler somehow scores a win over Jose Palacios.” It was not even a split decision and two of the judges only gave Palacios one round. Apparently they score on the getting hit the most system. The more you get hit the better you score. This one set the tone for some marginal judging all night long. The fans and in particular the fighters, deserve better than this from the judges.
It was better in the next fight between Angela Hill and Monique Travis who were both making their professional debuts. They both looked good and fought gamely. Before the fight Schiavello and Miletich talked about Travis working on elbows before this fight for the first time in her career. Miletich pointed out that this would be a problem against the taller Hill who was also more experienced at throwing them. This would prove to be true as the taller Hill actually did not dominate on the outside where the fight was even at best. Instead Hill did her best work on the inside using her height and angles to dominate on the inside. She was able to consistently score with her elbows and knees from this range. She also was able to dump Travis slightly more from the clinch. Travis fought with a lot of heart but could not deal with Hill on the inside who never let het get comfortable in this fight. It was a good start to their professional careers and a nice UD win for Hill.
The next fight was more like something out of gladiator days in which apparently someone was sacrificing Caio Urugai (13-2), against Malaipet Sasiprapa (148-27-6) who was not taking this fight remotely seriously. He claimed to have only sparred in training for this fight doing no roadwork or pad training. Malaipet made this statement before the fight, “The fight ends when I want it to and anyway I want it to end.” Technically it was ended by Urugai’s corner mercifully throwing in the towel as Malaipet bludgeoned Urgai at will with his right hand. Right from the final instructions Malaipet wore a bemused smile on his face throughout the fight. He caught Urugai’s foot and easily dumped inside of the first thirty seconds. Moments later he nonchalantly landed the first overhand right cleanly that sent Urugai crashing down. Malaipet would knock him down again with it twenty seconds later. Malaipet then caught a kick and landed another overhand right that sent Urugai sprawling backwards across the ring. Somehow this was not a knock down to the referee Steve Mazzagatti. Moments later this sequence is repeated only it is a vicious body kick that sent Urugai to the canvas in what was also not a knock down. This was followed up by an overhand right that bounced Urugai off the ropes into a nasty right elbow. Once again Urugai is down and while Mazzagatti is counting, Urugai’s corner tossed in the towel, since it seemed like Mazzagatti was going to let the fight continue. This sacrifice was over as Malaipet looked dominant in his win.
This led to the next contest were we got to see Jennifer Colomb (10-0) get destroyed by Cris “Cyborg” Justino (1-0) inside of three rounds. Since her return Cyborg has re-established herself as the most scary women in combat sports. Credit has to be given to Colomb for stepping up and taking this fight on just a week’s notice. She came into this fight with the confidence you get from straight KO wins to start your career. The problem is that there is nothing that can prepare you for the beast that is Cyborg. All the confidence Colomb had coming into this fight was gone by the first minute of the fight as Cyborg mauled and brawled her around the ring. By this point in the round Colomb had been tossed on her face by Cyborg, and knocked down a couple of times. She started to look to her corner for advice as if they could tell her how to battle Cyborg. Tommy Toe Hold has a contest going for the Ultimate Combat Warrior and I think we just found our winner in Cyborg. At one point in the round Cyborg flung Colomb across the ring with one hand. It was a shock Colomb survived the round and a little surprising that she came out for the second one.
As they start the second round they show Mieltich’s score for the round and it is 10-9 for Cyborg. My thought was I am not sure I want to witness what he would consider a 10-8 round in Muay Thai as he used the word “brutalized” to describe what Cyborg did to Colomb in the first round. To start the second round Colomb landed a nice combination of punches that ended with a nice body kick. Cyborg just walked through that combo to do some more damage in the clinch. They separated and Colomb attempted a spinning back elbow that Cyborg ducked under and then responded with a super-Cyborg punch. The rest of the round was more of Cyborg battering Colomb around the ring who again gained points just by surviving the round. Often times Colomb seemed confused like she did not fathom that something like Cyborg was even possible. It was not just the power of Cyborg that had Colomb off-balance but the speed at which it came at her. Consistently during the fight Cyborg was the quicker fighter and the few times she was not, she just walked through Colomb’s punches.
The third round started and Cyborg looked fresh, while Colomb looked like the victim of a mugging who was trying to gather her wits and answer the police officer’s questions. Cyborg came out stalking down Colomb in the beginning of the round. Then, with just a little over a minute left in it, Cyborg unleashed a vicious body attack. It was started with a straight right to the body and then followed up with several more right left blows that crumpled Colomb down to the ground ending the fight. It was an impressive dismantling by Cyborg who looked scarily dominate in getting the third round TKO win. This dominating performance will not make it an easier to get future fights for Cyborg.
The co-main event between Kevin Ross (26-9) and Tetsuya Yamato (29-11-1) was easily the fight of the night. Ross is a fan favorite and considered by many to be the best male Muay Thai fighter in the U.S. Yamato was coming over from Japan and fights more K-1 style of kick boxing. He instantly won over the fans with his aggressive style and showed that he knew how to use his elbows. Both of these fighters came out ready to fight, with Yamato taking control early.
In the first part of the round Ross was strong in the clinch and Yamato was more aggressive with his striking. Ross dumped Yamato several times early on in the fight but ate a lot of elbows and punches. During the round Yamato was landing elbows and punches easily and rapidly. He quickly opened up a couple of cuts on Ross’ face. With fifteen seconds left in the round Yamato landed a clean liver kick that stiffened up Ross who dropped his right hand to protect it. Yamato moved in and landed seven or eight elbows to close out the round and open up another cut on Ross who was bleeding from several cuts. This was Yamato’s round, he looked very comfortable and did the most damage.
When the second round started Ross came out firing. His striking was much crisper and more aggressive. He was getting the better of the exchanges in this round. It was a very high paced round from both fighters. Ross was more effective with his kicks and Yamato was doing better with his elbows. They both were landing punches and knees. While Ross continued to dominated the dumps including one were he caught a left kick from Yamato. He stepped forward lifting up on Yamato’s leg and kicking out his right leg at the same time. This sent Yamato spinning and careening down to the canvas with a thud. He had blood trickling down his back and nose when the round ended, but Ross had evened up the fight and seized the momentum.
He carried this over into the third round where he opened up more really mixing in body kicks and his own elbows. Once again Ross dumped Yamato easily in the round, but it was not all Ross. Yamato continued his steady barrage of elbows and punches including one clean left elbow to the jaw. Both fighters took the battery of blows and kept coming forward. After three it seemed like Ross had taken control of the fight and was up 2-1 on rounds on Miletich’s scorecard.
In the fourth round Ross threw more punches and Yamato used his razor like elbows. Schiavello and Miletich discussed the differences in the two styles and scoring. Ross was the more active fighter and definitely landing more punches and kicks. This was offset by the elbows of Yamato which were cutting Ross up throughout the fight. Ross’ face showed more damage and was bloodier because of this and sometimes these elements sway the judges. Schiavello also pointed out at the end of the round that a Thai judge would score that round for Yamato and his elbows, and an American judge would give it to Ross based on the overall damage from strikes in the round. This was a pivotal round and Miletich scored it for Ross and it seemed like he was up 3-1 going into the final round.
They both came out like they were down on the scorecards and landed some big bombs to start the round. The opening exchange ended with Ross spurting blood out of his face and it was becoming a bloody mask. Yamato landed a big overhand elbow to the temple of Ross that staggered him. As Yamato came forward firing elbows Ross kept firing back with punches and kicks. They exchanged back and forth when Ross catches another kick and dumps Yamato again. They went back to standing and trading. Ross then got Yamato in the clinch and ended the fight kneeing away at Yamato for the final fifteen seconds. It was a fantastic fight filled with high level Muay Thai action. The final round went narrowly to Yamato it seemed like and this was how Miletich scored it. His final scorecard had it 48-47 for Ross and that seemed right. The judges had it 48-47 also but two of them saw it for Yamato who took the close SD. It was a very close fight and it would be easy to make the argument that Yamato won the fight. It was definitely better than some of the earlier decisions on this card. The fight itself was truly an amazing display of violent Muay Thai beauty painted by two artists. One using punches and kicks the other, Yamato, painted with his knife like elbows to get the SD win.
It was another exciting night of Muay Thai action courtesy of Lion Fights and AXS TV. The co-main event was a classic between Ross and Yamato that outshone the other fights. The other indelible image from the night was the frightening brutality of Cyborg as she staked her claim as the scariest fighter in combat sports today.
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