A Muay Thai fight is not something you typically think about as a way to spend your Saturday night. As some folks took their seats, I could hear whispers of confusion behind me.
What is it? Kickboxing? Some kind of karate?
What it is, is exciting! Muay Thai night in D.C., put on by the American Muay Thai League, is almost like it's own fight club. A real cool fight club. A tribal fanbase comes together. You can see them all when they walk in. The supporters show up in the customized T-shirts or gym apparel that represents their boyfriend, their girlfriend, spouse or their crew. The high-fives and bro-hugs from the coaches who know each other and have competed over the years. The moms and dads come in, who still aren't quite sure what they're watching, but faithfully take their seats and prepare to just yell when the time comes. They all come and none are disappointed.
THEARC in Southeast D.C., by day a community center, is transformed quite well into a fight arena for the evening. Sixteen fights were showcased on the card Saturday night. The common thread in all of them was that everyone came to fight. Not a lot of dancing or lateral movement, just straight up centerline striking. Hit and not get hit. Set-up, feint, parry. Hit and not get hit. That is, until you get hit. As kicks and knees found their targets, segments of the crowd yelled, to let the judges know of their approval. By the way, the proper shout phrase on this occasion is, "OOOOEEEE!" I just learned that this weekend.
Muay Thai is not for the faint of heart. Spinning elbows to the bridge of the nose, brutal leg kicks to the soft tissue of the thighs, and well placed knees to floating ribs are all part of the game. It's a splendid sport. One that requires thorough conditioning to compete and mental toughness to persevere.
AMTL Promotions now regularly brings Muay Thai fights to the Washington D.C. area and has an aggressive schedule to produce even more fights in 2017. Their formula seems to be consistent. Find folks who really want to fight, pack a competitive card with well matched opponents, start the event on time and keep the show moving. At the end of a couple fights, the next competitors were already in the ring before the previous competitors had even left the arena. It's a good sign. Don't let the fans get restless.
Saturday night featured Rolando Valdez from Rockville, MD vs. Eric Rocha of Toronto, Canada at 147lbs. and in the co-main event, Jared Tipton of LevelUp Gym in Bowie, MD vs. Jonathan George of Lorton, VA at 133lbs.
Leading up to the headliners were a couple of stand-out results from fighters on the undercard, including Nathashas Sotnychuck of Revolution MMA in Virginia who dispensed with her opponent, Casey Smith of Lotus Thai Boxing inside of 10 seconds of the first round. The walkout and pre-fight ritual start was longer than the fight. Bell rings. Head-kick. Fight over.
Jake Darr of Ground Control in Columbia, MD and Colby McIntyre of Iron Muay Thai in Atlanta, GA just decided to play a game of last man standing. Darr introduced McIntyre to the canvas a couple of times and it was enough to put him over with a decision. But the flurries and leg kicks by both guys proved to be very entertaining. In the 115lbs. division, the crowd got behind pint-sized Abbe Pannuci who was seemingly kicked, pushed and thrown around the ring by her opponent, Nicole Ball of Mikido MMA. But she just kept calmly getting back-up, returning to her fight stance and throwing strong counters to Ball's face. Pannuci lost the fight by decision but her toughness was appreciated by the crowd. In the spirit of Marvel Comics, Jovan Davis of Pentagon MMA entered the ring in a cape against Alvin Mercer of Mikido MMA. Apparently the cape thing worked as Davis outclassed Mercer with a KO.
Returning to the main card events, after Jared Tipton floored Jonathan George early in the first round, he was seemingly stunned in the next exchange and George quickly took advantage returning the knockdown in quick fashion. Tipton was on shaky legs when he rose from the count and was jumped on quickly by George who ended the bout with a couple of quick combinations that sent Tipton crashing hard to the outer edge of the canvas. KO first round.
Rolando Valdez and Eric Rocha traded shots for most of the first round but by the second round, it appeared Valdez had begun to get his timing together. He dropped Rocha with a straight right hand in the second and finished him with a front leg kick to the head in the 3rd.
AMTL Promotions gets back at it in December. Make sure you're ready.
MAIN CARD RESULTS
UNDER CARD RESULTS
For more information on AMTL Promotions and future fights go to http://www.amtlpromotions.com
About the Author:
Darryl Keeton is an avid striking, grappling and wrestling fan living in Upper Marlboro, MD. He holds a black belt in Taekwondo and is also a practitioner of Combat Jujutsu, Boxing and Muay Thai.