Northwest, Washington D.C. - Wow! Might be a big understatement for AMTL Promotion's return to D.C. last night. After taking a detour to THEARC on Mississippi Avenue in September and postponing a December date to respect and honor the recent passing of the King of Thailand in October. American Muay Thai League returned to their familiar home at the Thurgood Marshall Center in Washington D.C. Saturday night.
The promoter, Josef Pearson must have fed all the fighters gunpowder before the start of the event, maybe in recognition of the late Notorious B.I.G. (who died 20 years ago this week), because everybody came to bang. The 14-fight, sold-out show was heavy on energy and striking from the start. What remains impressive about the American Muay Thai League events is the efficiency of the production. In an area that has well run combat sports promotions, AMTL manages to standout. The next fighters are usually in the ring before you can stop high fiving about the previous match.
American Muay Thai League started in 2013 to bring authentic Muay Thai to the Washington D.C. area. Founder, Josef Pearson would build off of his experience in competing in and promoting Muay Thai events in Thailand.
This night's event featured a four-man, tournament style format in two weight classes that would crown a 140lbs. and 147lbs. champion. Tournament participants at 140lbs. included Michael Capone, Adam McCann, David Chun and Chas Cody. Participants in the 147lbs. division were Keeman Diop, Kaleb Hunter, Stephen Nguyen and Brian O'Halloran.
Chas Cody of Level Up Gym in Bowie, MD competed against Michael Capone of the Winchester Academy in the first semi-final match at 140. Cody was originally set to go against Jared Ferguson who was pulled due to injury. Capone answered the challenge with two days notice and was obviously training because he looked in great shape.
Muay Thai is often mistaken for Kickboxing due to some shared techniques utilized by both sports. But when you witness someone who is well trained in Muay Thai, there is clearly a difference. Chad Cody made sure that everyone attending, recognized the difference.
At the start of the fight, Capone was game and fought behind a slew of jabs, push-kick feints and overhand rights. He succeeded in sending Cody to the canvas early with a short left hook but Cody seemed to be more off balance than truly impacted by a clean shot. He popped back-up quickly appearing to realize he was in a fight and immediately begin applying pressure with well-timed overhand rights, leg-kicks and vicious knees to Capone's mid-section. Capone's ability to absorb some pretty vicious knees by Cody late in the round was pretty remarkable and the crowd voiced their approval.
However, in the second round Cody picked up where he left off and put his signature on the finish.
Next up at 147, was Keeman Diop of Crazy 88 in Maryland versus Brian O'Halloran from Capital MMA. Diop would get O'Halloran's attention right away with a rear-leg push kick to the face after they touched gloves to start. O'Halloran did well to block Diop's early strike attempts. But the long limbs of Diop along with a hair-trigger rear leg kick was too much for O'Halloran. Diop would be the one to determine the fighting distance during the bout and his leg striking put O'Halloran down inside the first minute. O'Halloran was turning away from an elbow strike at the time, when he was ushered into a head kick. Diop displayed the calm and comfort level of someone who was sparring in an empty gym before determining he'd had enough practice and was ready to move on.
The other 140lbs. semi-final match earned fight of the night honors with David Chun of Kaizen MMA and Adam McCann of 8 Limbs in Philadelphia putting on a strikefest.
Kaleb Hunter of 8 Points Muay Thai in Winston-Salem, NC would battle against Stephen Nguyen of Lotus Thai Boxing in Fairfax, VA for the other 147lbs. semi-final. This bout felt a little uneven throughout the fight. Neither fighter could establish whether they would lead or counter and so most of the clashes amounted to leg kicks and clinches. Nguyen managed to give more than he took and with a couple of exclamation sweeps he moved on to the finals to face Keeman Diop.
The 140lbs. champion was determined to be Chas Cody after David Chun's team withdrew him from further competition as a safety precaution after his war with Adam McCann. That left the final contest at 147 of Keeman Diop vs. Steve Nguyen.
Where Diop had won his semi-final match by controlling the distance to utilize his kicks, Nguyen fought with more awareness and chose to stay in boxing range for most of the fight. So Diop adjusted and began to mix up the speed of his strikes, now using the range of his hands and the speed of delivery as his weapons. Nguyen was eating a lot of leather by the third round and couldn't seem to find his way inside to deliver a clean shot. While Nguyen never looked in any serious trouble during the fight, Diop was racking up points in bunches with combinations that were answered with whiffs or singles with no follow-ups. In the end, Nguyen just ran out of time before he could figure out the Diop puzzle.
Oh yeah, the other bonus with the American Muay Thai League fights is they usually end by 9:30p.m. Allowing you ample time to fill-in the rest of your Saturday night.
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 ITF Tae Kwon Do with additional training in Combat Jujutsu, Boxing and Muay Thai.