Sunday, August 10, 2008 Khun Kao Promotions held a series of Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts matches at the Asian Festival DC in Reston, VA. I, your intrepid Bullshido reporter, was there to cover said displays of martial prowess and disregard for personal safety for your amusement and edification at the cost of my Sunday; fortunately, that's a price I don't mind paying for a good day of fights.
What's that you say? “August 10, 2008? That's nearly two months ago! What took you so long?”
Yes, it was a long time ago. If anything this makes my report all the more newsworthy; by now, every one will have forgotten about it and this piece will serve to remind those who were there of exactly what happened and let the rest of you who didn't even know it happened anyways in on what you missed.
Question me no further! My logic is as infallible as my command of the English languish.
Just so you know, the day before- August 9, a Saturday (even longer ago than the 10th)- saw several displays by DC area martial arts schools. Styles such as Muay Thai, Escrima, Kenpo Karate, and Extreme Martial Arts each demonstrated their skills for the public on and around the Asian Festival's very own boxing ring- about that ring, well, never mind, I'll get to it later.
Naturally, there were the requisite demonstrations of board-breaking daring-do and kata set to techno, crowd pleasers all, but fortunately not all was sure to grate upon the nerves of the average Bullshido user: the Muay Thai demonstration featured YouTube - Wangchannoi vs. Kaensak. All the same, I would have enjoyed it if I wasn't busy helping a friend get married.
Onto the events that mattered, onto the fights!
After a little preamble about the event itself. I swear, it'll be brief.
The event was held in a large open-air tent that filled up quickly as tickets were sold. The entire venue was surrounded by other aspects of the Asian Festival: a beer garden, concerts, vendors, dance and cultural demonstrations, etc. I almost bought a conical hat, but then I realized I owned nothing that matched. I'd describe the atmosphere as “family friendly” on the whole.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...jpg[/wleftI got there a few hours early to introduce myself to the promoters and have myself a look around the festival itself. As the fights were scheduled to begin at 3, I was a little concerned to see that ring setup was still a ways from being complete when I arrived at noon. As it turns out, despite having been painstakingly setup the day before for the aforementioned demonstrations, someone within the festival staff- separate from the promoters and officials running the fights themselves- decided the whole thing should be painstakingly disassembled before Sunday's matches. The ring was assembled in time for the event to begin as scheduled, but it would prove problematic throughout the event.
The fighter's meeting and prep area were staged out of a small old church house or town hall on the fair grounds. The dressing room reminded me very much of something from Colonial Williamsburg with it's huge windows, high ceiling, and single grand room; I felt like drafting a declaration.
In order to get from the arena to the dressing room and back again, one had to walk across a dining area and open air market filled with people not even necessarily aware that there were fights taking place. The trek to and from struck me as rather surreal, geared up fighters walking purposefully toward a ring with 5 year olds eating cotton candy running in circles around them.
The matches were officiated and judged by the Global Combat Alliance, medics were on stand by- and fortunately never needed-, there was a guy with a video camera and a few of us with still cameras, the crowd were in their seats and the gate crashers were standing where they could see without paying; 3 o'clock rolled around and it was time to begin!
Muay Thai Bout, 145 lbs. Tom Piccininni (0-0) vs. Arturo Ayala (0-0)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...pg[/wrightPiccininni came out strong in the first round and almost immediately set the pace and tone of the entire 3 round fight by controlling Ayala in the clinch. Piccininni landed numerous and relentless knees to the body as Ayala attempted to body punch to little effect. While I'm sure those knees didn't feel like butter-fly kisses, I wouldn't be surprised if Piccininni's plum clinch alone wasn't taking the fight out of Ayala; Piccininni would establish control and whip his opponent around the ring by his head much the way a dog swings its favorite chew toy around. Ayala was tripped numerous times- some illegally with a leg hook rather than sweep which the ref caught and warned Piccininni for-, he fell over numerous times, he was simply knocked down numerous times, and near the end of the round Piccininni cleanly caught one of his kicks and swept Ayala's standing leg neatly out from under him.
Remember how I said the ring was a second-hand piece of junk, right?
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...jpg[/wleftIn between rounds, the ref noticed something of dire import: a pot hole in the ring. He stood in the middle of the ring and one foot sank up to the ankle in a depression in the canvas where there was apparently no mat underneath. How this was missed, I don't know. The promoter himself ventured under the ring and made the necessary repairs in short order. It's a lucky thing the ref noticed this early, I'd hate to think what could've happened had someone set a foot there while pivoting or coming down from a kick.
Having gotten a little more of a break than they had anticipated, Ayala and Piccininni came out swinging at the start of the second round. They each landed a shot or two, though Piccininni got the better of their exchanges. Piccininni had a pretty dramatic slip off a kick though he recovered quickly, and from there the round came right back to what had made up most of the previous round: Piccininni mauling Ayala from a tight and merciless clinch. Ayala got hammered down by knees from clinch and came back up tentative and visibly winded, he backed away from Piccininni and circled throwing some big swings in an attempt to catch him without being brought back into that murderous clinch. Piccininni dropped Ayala with a solid kick to the body, the ref gave Ayala a standing count and allowed the fight to continue. About four seconds after that standing count, the round was over.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...pg[/wrightIn the final round Ayala fired off some loose haymakers, but he failed to connect. Piccininni landed a few solid shots, again established clinch, and ended up with 5 knock downs before the match was ended in a TKO giving him an undefeated record of 1-0. If I had a cookie for every time Ayala got kneed in the body I would have a hell of a lot of cookies.
What have we learned from this match? Body shots take the fight out of a person pretty quickly when they just keep coming and coming and coming and coming...
MMA Bout, 185 lbs. Marcus Hemsley (0-0) vs. Nicholas Robinson (0-1)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...jpg[/wleftThese two lanky 185 pounders came out, touched gloves, and then Robinson immediately shot the double leg and took Hemsley to the mat. Hemsley managed to pull guard on the way down, however Robinson- a BJJ purple belt- quickly passed to side control. From there Robinson threw a few knees to the body and hammer fists to the head before slipping into mount. After some preliminary ground-and-pound, Robinson secured a text-book arm-bar from mount to finish the match at 1:21 of the first round and improve Robinson's record to 1-1.
Junior Division Modified Muay Thai Bout, 135 lbs. Jonathan George (1-2) vs. Rick Mansoor (0-2)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...pg[/wrightGeorge and Mansoor both came out ready to fight. They exchanged combinations right from the opening bell with Mansoor appearing to get the better of them. As in the first match, the fighters tied up fairly quickly; apparently evenly matched in the clinch, Mansoor and George exchanged control and knees to the legs and body as they worked their way along the ropes. Twice during their clinch fighting one nearly shoved the other over the top rope, and as the ring was not of the finest construction each time this happened the top rope sagged to nearly the fighters' knees, almost spilling them out of the ring. As they broke from the clinch, Mansoor again landed some solid punches, but George fired back with a solid counter leg-kick that knocked Mansoor over in mid-kick. Almost immediately following that knock down, George caught another of Mansoor's kicks and swept his leg out from under him again just before the bell.
The second round began just as frantically as the first with George pouring it on with strong kicks to Mansoor's legs and body. Again the two clinched, traded knees, and jostled for position nearly spilling out over the ropes. Somewhere in the flurry of punches, Mansoor was cut beside and just above his left eye, it did not appear to affect him and so the match went uninterrupted by doctors or the ref. After being separated by the ref for inaction- or possibly being too close to falling out of the ring-, George landed a low push kick that sat Mansoor down on the mat; he immediately got back up, obviously simply knocked off balance, however the ref began to give him a standing count. The count was stopped around 3 or 4 and the fight continued. Mansoor rushed George and ate a kick square to the side of the head for his troubles. Although knocked against the ropes by the blow, Mansoor seemed none the worse for wear and pressed his attack against George. As he chased him down, Mansoor caught a body kick and used it to take George down to the canvas. Although Mansoor had given a good fight thus far, by this point I was inclined to give it to George.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...jpg[/wleftIn the third round both fighters charged and in the collision nearly went out of the ring twice more, the ropes giving far too much. George controlled the first half of the round fairly handily landing numerous punches and kicks. For the last few minutes of the fight Mansoor rallied, putting the pressure on George with solid knees from clinch, punches, and kicks. Both fighters fell in the final minute either from the other's technique or simple imbalance on account of how hard they were going after the other. Neither fighter wanted the fight to end by decision judging by how they fought to the bell, but ultimately that's what happened; the match ended in unanimous decision for George.
I think it could be argued that either fighter won rounds 1 and 3 with the second clearly going to George. I would have preferred to see a split decision here, but that's not what I'm not payed to do so, oh well.
Muay Thai Bout, 135 lbs. Ruby Gee vs. Shirley Moody
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...pg[/wrightThe one and only female fight of the night went all three rounds of heavy action between Ruby Gee and Shirley Moody.
Moody came out quick and established dominance in her exchanges with Gee via a neat right hand cross that rocked Gee early. After a few more shots, Gee closed the distance and clinched with Moody where she got a little back for herself. From the clinch both ladies delivered blows to good effect with Moody perhaps getting the better of the knees and body punches. After a minute or so of back and forth clinch, the two women separated and were obviously sapped from all the knees to the guts. Moody reestablished herself with a few solid punches and one good kick to the face, and while many of these blows gave Gee pause she never seemed to lose her composure. Gee rallied and finished the first round with a good flurry that had her opponent on the ropes.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...jpg[/wleftThe second round was all Moody. She came out fists flying and landed probably 8 or 9 unanswered blows before Gee began to push forward for the clinch. To her credit, Gee never once backed down; the entire round consisted of advancing and trying to suck Moody into her clinch only to have Moody fire off relentless combinations while backing off to which Gee had no response save forward momentum. Moody landed plenty of solid, clean shots in this round, no one can see that Gee can't take a punch.
The third and final round saw more of the second; Moody pounding relentlessly on a relentlessly advancing Gee. Gee continued to try for the clinch and failed, and Moody landed numerous combinations of punches and kicks.
The match ended in a fairly predictable unanimous decision victory for Shirley Moody.
Muay Thai Bout, 200 lbs. John Nickle vs. Michael Snyder
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...pg[/wrightAnd then the big boys came out to play.
Michael Snyder and John Nickle rocked the ring to its foundations. Now, if the ring in question were sturdy this statement would be pure hyperbole, but it wasn't so it isn't.
Snyder and Nickle both came out strong and steady trading one or two kicks at a time with gusto. It took a minute for both fighters to begin to really unload, but it was Nickle who got off the block first in this regard; Nickle came at Snyder with several fast combinations, but ultimately found his blows catching on Snyder's guard to no effect or simply slipping off to hit nothing. Snyder fired back with precise kicks and punches and as Nickle continued to advance and fire off combos, Snyder more and more began to take control. Upon hearing the signal for the last 15 seconds, Snyder took clinch hard, delivered solid knees to Nickle's tender under-belly, and shucked him to the canvas like a sack of wet flour.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...jpg[/wleftBoth fighter's came out hard, but again Snyder took the upper hand with slick defense and a dominating clinch game. Catching one of Nickel's kicks early, Snyder got himself into the plum clinch and began delivering knee after knee to his opponent's midsection. After a few warm up shots to the body followed by whipping Nickle around the ring by his head and neck, Snyder began to take his knees up to the head.
Sensing that he had his opponent on the way out, Snyder began to play fast and loose. No longer did he wait for solid counter-striking opportunities, but he began to advance in fits and bursts. One attempted super-man punch- or perhaps it was a leaping elbow- saw Snyder slip. Subsequent clashes and clinches saw both men rock the turn-buckles which visibly shook in their moorings. One mash up nearly saw both men spill out over the ropes as the top rope gave way down to below their waist lines, fortunately no one came tumbling out of the arena and onto the officials. It was about at this point that the promoter's felt compelled to keep men at each of the rings four corners to ensure that the whole thing didn't just come down.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...pg[/wrightStill on the second round, Snyder's aggression again saw him slip. However the faster pace and heavier offensive output took its toll on Nickle who became more tentative and visibly winded as the round came to a close.
The third round began with an unintentional low blow by Snyder, Nickle shrugged it off and the fighter's touched gloves to continue. The shot did little to slow Nickle who at the end of the second round looked almost out; Nickle came forward with a revitalized offense, firing combinations off and catching his opponent more than he had in previous rounds. Far from deterred, Snyder fired back faster and hard- if some what sloppier- than he had before and got himself back into his dominating clinch.
From there, Snyder kneed Nickle into the corner. Raining knees, elbows and punches down on his opponent, Snyder eventually hammer Nickle into the canvas for a referee stoppage victory at 1:59 of the 3rd round.
MMA Bout, 160 lbs. Jeriel Escheverstre vs. Dane Lampe
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...jpg[/wleftDane “The Train” Lampe lived up to his nick name and barreled across the ring for the take down. A few cursory blows were traded standing, but the real fight was on the floor.
Lampe clinched and shot on Escheverstre and drove him clear from one side of the ring to the other. Escheverstre's defense withstood that run, and so, upon hitting the ropes on the opposite end, Lampe changed his shot up and drove his opponent back to the corner they'd started out in. After a full circuit of the ring, Lampe picked the ankle and began to lift the single leg, but Escheverstre decided he'd had enough foreplay and jumped guard.
Escheverstre tried several times for a guillotine or kimura, but none of his submission attempts really got close to the mark. Lampe pounded his opponent from within guard and steadily worked his way out first to half guard and then to full mount. From full mount, Lampe rained a steady stream of unanswered blows on Escheverstre's head, who managed to continually defend and avoid ref stoppage by turning and turtling up. Lampe took the back and worked for the choke, a couple times it looked like Escheverstre might have found the upper hand and found himself in Lampe's guard, but ultimately Escheverstre ended up with his shoulder flat on the mat yet again and Lampe's fists making repeated a violent contact with his face. The ref inched closer and closer during this pounding, but the bell saved Escheverstre before the match could be stopped.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...pg[/wrightAt the start of the second round, Lampe again rushed across the ring to bring his opponent to the mat. After getting around behind him, Lampe lifted Escheverstre bodily into the air and slammed him down onto the mat, much to the crowd's amusement. Lampe took mount and attempted an arm-bar which Escheverstre successfully defended to take superior position.
Working inside Lampe's guard and then side control, Escheverstre got off a few good shots while he managed to keep his opponent down. Lampe, however did not stay on his back; Lampe quickly scrambled and found himself in Escheverstre's guard. Lampe passed again to get to full mount, rained punches, and lost his position in an arm-bar attempt.
Escheverstre decided to stand rather than continue to roll with Lampe and backed away. Lampe chased him down one last time, secured the take down, and- perhaps put off by his two failed arm-bar attempts- pounded out the ref stoppage victory at 2:25 of the second round.
Muay Thai Bout, 170 lbs. Ben Smyth vs. Dan Lampey
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...jpg[/wleftDan Lampey after Dane Lampe, ah what a world...
Right, the fight!
Right the opening bell, both of these guys just started throwing. I don't think they let up for more than 2 seconds the whole round. Both fighters threw numerous and varied combinations. Through most of the round I'd say I have to give the edge to Lampey simply because he seemed to be throwing just a tiny bit more than Smyth, also it seemed that a higher number of his punches were making it through while a good number of Smyth kicks were finding nothing but solid defense. Smyth rallied near the end of round one with a series of push kicks to the gut and good, straight punches to the face that seemed to stun his opponent; it never looked like Lampey was on his way out, but it was evident he'd been punched in the face.
The second round saw an only slightly slower pace. Smyth's kicks began to land on Lampey's left leg seemingly with impunity, but it didn't slow Lampey down and more importantly it didn't stop him from landing punches. Just as in the first round, Lampey kept up just a slightly higher number of punches and kicks thrown and landed with just that many more of them. Near the end, Lampey's hooks began to come clean around Smyth's simple cover the front defense and the resounding thwack each blow made against the side of Smyth's head got a few gasps from the audience. Again, no man looked like he was about to go down, but the repeated solid knocks to Smyth's head slowed him visibly and definitely cut into how fast and effectively he was throwing the leg kick that had seemed to be going so well for him.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/icantcu...pg[/wrightFinally, in the final round, things started fast with a flurry of exchanged kicks. Again, as before, Lampey simply fired off more and more effective bunches of punches and combinations of kicks. Eventually he wore his opponent down, smacking Smyth's head and body relentlessly with hooks, straights, and kicks.
Steady pace and superior punch out put took Lampey to victory on this one. Both fighters fought hard and brought good skills to the ring, Lampey just did it more.
Over all, despite one of the worst rings I've ever see, the show went down well. I look forward to the next one.
For the record, I've been assured that the second-hand ring owned by the Asian Festival will never again by used by Khun Kao Promotions, and that they've recommended to the owners that they simply scrap it in the interest of fighter safety. I sincerely hope that this recommendation is acted upon, because that thing is terrible.
See you next time for DC Metro Showdown 4 on Saturday, October 18th at the Sports Center in Lansdowne (Leesburg), VA. Which I totally and completely swear will be written way sooner than this one was.