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Muay Thai competition electrifies audience at Pechanga Casino

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Muay Thai originated in Thailand and it is also referred to as the “art of eight limbs” because in addition to the fists, it also utilizes the elbows, knees, shins, and feet.946957_505339256221987_189912063_n

The WCK Muay Thai World Title fights took place at Pechanga Resort & Casino on Saturday, August 24 and fans of the sport packed the Grand Ballroom as driving rock music played over the PA system:

Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell” are examples of some of the music that charges the grand ballroom before the Muay Thai competition commences. I feel like I’m in any action movie nightclub scene ever-like someone is about to get hurt. And they are.

You can feel the electricity in the air. Inches from my seat, a young fighter hugs his understandably worried grandmother, and on the other side of the ring the Card Girls enter the room in luxurious terry cloth robes which they must remove once they reach their seats.

In a room of fully clothed fans, these nearly naked beauties are completely at ease. They play Candy Crush on their phones, and politely pose for pictures.

Suddenly, the house lights go down and instantly return brighter than before, eliciting a thunderous round of applause from the crowd. The bell rings. It’s time to fight.

First up is the professional debut of Angel Meza and Ed Abasolo, which is an interesting thing to witness. They must prove themselves to the audience and each other.

Abasolo looks calm, Meza looks like a man possessed. They knock one another to the canvas in the very first round, but manage to make it all the way to the third without any debilitating injuries.

Abasolo lands several elbow strikes in a row that clearly daze Meza, but he recovers and they duke it out until the final bell rings, at which point we go to the judges’ score cards resulting in a unanimous decision for Ed Abasolo.

The second bout between “Dynamite” David Pacheco and James Steelsmith is relatively unspectacular and culminates with a split decision victory in favor of Steelsmith.

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The third fight between Alfred Kashakyan and Chris Minor is incredible to witness. Kashakyan, contrary to his name, is a slight and unassuming man with fire in his eyes. His opponent, as his nickname “Mohawk” suggests, sports a flamboyant fire engine red mohawk.

The bell rings and Kashakyan immediately pummels Minor, then celebrates his spectacular victory with an acrobatic jump/flip/spin maneuver. Which is the appropriate way to honor a 36 second first round knockout.

Then it’s John Vargas vs. Rajesh Narine. The 5’6″ Narine has a little trouble getting into the ring he is proclaimed to be the prince of. Vargas prays in the center of the ring; now the fight can begin.

With his pink trunks and uncoordinated entry, Narine does not inspire fear in the heart, especially for the heavily tattooed yellow trunked Vargas who knocks Narine out with a mighty uppercut in the first round.

The bout between Miguel Cosio and Jacob Poss is equally expedient. Both fighters get off to an excellent start, showcasing their power. “King Cobra” Poss manages to cut Cosio’s left eye and twice nearly knocks him out of the ring.

After Cosio is nearly punched by referee Vichai Supkitpol for unsportsmanlike conduct, a flurry of punches and a final knee to the face by Poss knock Cosio out in the first round.

Papa Roach’s “Last Resort,” drowns out the noise of the crowd, most of which are trying to freshen up their beers and take pictures with the Card Girls. I remain seated; there’s lines for everything and only 10 minutes until intermission is over.

The first five round fight of the night is between Levon Sarkysan and Adam Rothweiler. Both young men look likewarriors, and as is usually the case with featherweights, they are very fast and ready to fight until they’re burger.

Excellent striking all around, but Sarkysan looks rattled in the second round.

Number three is all business with Sarkysan scoring a knockdown on Rothweiler, which is rewarded by several hard attacks to his left knee resulting in a knockdown for Rothweiler.

Round four is carnage; both boxers refuse to quit but ultimately the wounded Sarkysan falls victim to a 4th round TKO (Technical Knockout, wherein a fighter is rendered unable to continue due to an injury) by Rothweiler.

Then Lena Ovchynnikova and Emily Bearden face off for the IKKC Women’s Super Bantamweight World Title. These women are predators. They meticulously plan their attacks and any opening is immediately pounced upon. Few things are left to chance, which as you might imagine, does not make for a terribly compelling spectacle.

Much gratitude to the lovely Card Girls for making the match worth watching. We go to the judges’ score cards, where we find a unanimous decision victory for Ovchynnikova.

The WBC Muay Thai Middleweight National Mexican Title match finds Raul “Lightning Rod” Rodriguez at a considerable height/reach advantage when compared to the current belt holder Luis Bio, who is a full four inches shorter than his foe.

This turns out to be no significant problem for Bio, however, who successfully defends his title with a split decision victory over Rodriguez, who gave a valiant effort.

The penultimate battle between Ryan “The Lion” Madigan and Mike “The French Frog” Lemaire is for the WBC Muay Thai Cruiserweight National Title. Madigan looks like he came to do battle, and his adversary appears just as ready.

Both men storm towards each other at the bell, but shortly into the round Lemaire manages to wound Madigan’s right leg. He takes a Standing Nine to recover, but to no avail.

Seconds later, Lemaire takes the leg completely along with the title due to a TKO victory at 61 seconds into the first round. He looks unsurprised at his triumph, while Madigan hobbles away beltless and ashamed.

At long last, it is the moment we have all been waiting for: the WBC Muay Thai Women’s Lightweight World Title main event featuring Aleide Lawant and Miriam “The Queen of Mean” Nakamoto. The Queen enters the ring with conviction and respectfully bows to her adversary, then gives a big smile to her adoring fans. She looks like a sweetheart; is the name meant to be ironic? Perhaps not.

She looks calm, almost bored, but intermittently fires off punishing flurries. Lawant holds her own throughout the first round, but is clearly dazed in the second.

In the third round, Nakamoto throws Lawant to the ground twice. She receives a cut on her right eye, but Lawant sustains one over her left that gushes blood. The Queen is scolded by referee Cecil Peoples for throwing her opponent to the ground a third time.

Both women are tired and bloodied, but not beaten. Nakamoto throws 3 elbow strikes in a row, two landing on Lawant’s already injured left eye.

It is now the fifth and final round; The Queen immediately sends Lawant back with a hard push kick, and throws her to the ground thrice in quick succession.

Both fighters exchange knees before Lawant’s mouthpiece falls out, and seconds later the fight is over.
Lawant and Nakamoto smile at each other and hug, acknowledging each other’s prowess.

The judges make their calculations and announce their conclusion: unanimous decision for Miriam Nakamoto who, for a split second, looked nervous. An incredible main event from two TRUE warriors.

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