On Friday night July 28, 2017 Foxwoods Casino's Fox Theatre was fixed in Fairtex yellow-gold . Fairtex founder Philip Wong has had a vision for Muay Thai on the national stage since the 1970's and now Lion Fight's promoter Scott Kent has the opportunity to take that vision to another level in America.
The co-main event featuring former local MMA fighter Chip "The Surgeon" Moraza-Pollard and Paul "The Reaper" Banasiak showcased not the evolution of American Muay Thai, rather it showed the evolution of Boston Muay Thai. Two New England fighters got to show the world how this sport has taken on the local "Boston Brawl" culture that has propelled local MMA fighters to the national stage. Compared to the main event which saw Jo "Smokin Jo" Nattawut take on Pechtanong Banchamek, the American version held a significant difference, and the difference lied in the hands. Boston has a history steeped in the art of boxing and one can see how it's carried over to local MMA and now Muay Thai. Not taking away from the amount of kicks thrown in the Pollard-Banasiak fight ( a great picture of Chip landing a kick flush on the face of his opponent will be up on our website soon along with other great shots) one can just notice a difference in the volume of kicks compared to the traditional Thai fighters. The absence of sweeps was noticeable in both fights.
Lion Fights acquiring Fairtex as a sponsor was a smart move considering that Fairtex has roots in America as they opened up camps in Arizona and California. Even the Boston area was rumored to have had a short-lived camp in Revere, MA. There's also another Fairtex/Lion Fights connection as it was the sponsor of AXS TV announcer and UFC Hall-of-Famer Pat Militech during his legendary stint in the UFC.
Promoter Scott Kent has a blatant intention for Muay Thai in America (he would like to bring the ceremonial Wai Kru dances to the big screen but it takes up a lot of air-time). And fighters, fans and coaches are all anxious to see how it pans out. From the looks of things American Muay Thai's popularity is growing in gold.
There was a great video of Muay Thai legend Saenchai sparring with Chip during his American tour and the veteran Thai fighter even wished Chip luck on his upcoming bout followed by the words "good Muay Thai" posted on his Instagram and Facebook. It seems like destiny that left Chip's MMA career in the dust as that shiny LF belt got fastened around his waste. Then "Smokin Jo" retained his title of American Muay Thai Super Welterweight champion. Though I don't know much about Nattawut I have a feeling that he comes from humble roots as we got to sit with him after he solidified his status. We didn't spot him under the flashy lights of Scorpion Bar or at one of the many high-priced five-star restaurants that Foxwoods has to offer. Rather we spotted him enjoying some Regina's Pizza, a Boston staple in pizzeria at the food-court by himself until he was joined by local Muay Thai fighter and Hard Knocks trainer Jake Mainini. Muay Thai in New England is alive and strong!