Muay Thai show at Pechanga ranks up there with the very best

April 6, 2013 No Comments
Mike Lemaire (r) of the Art of Eight gym gets the hard fought victory over the indestructible Andy Murad of the El Cajon Undisputed Gym.  Photo: Jim Wyatt

Mike Lemaire (r) of the Art of Eight gym gets the hard fought victory over the indestructible Andy Murad of the El Cajon Undisputed Gym. Photo: Jim Wyatt

On Saturday, April 6, 2013, World Championship Muay Thai returned to the Pechanga Resort and Casino with another exciting (that’s an understatement) show dubbed Bad to the Bone with top fighters from around the world going at it in three world title matches supported by an eight fight undercard.


 

The WCK Road To Glory USA Tournament Champion Mike Lemaire, a distinguished member of the Art of Eight coaching staff, was one of the many headliners and like everyone else, he was tested in an all out battle with another local favorite, Andy Murad, part owner of the Undisputed Fitness & Training Center in El Cajon.

Not to say it was a house divided, but it’s not often you have two local favorites going at it in a World Title fight. The passions ran deep and in this match both fan bases only saw what they wanted to see.

The difference of opinion:

Undisputed El Cajon’s Muy Thai coach Preston Peters’ perspective on what transpired in Saturday evening’s title fight between his fighter Andy Murad and Mike Lemaire of Art of 8: “For those of you who didn’t make it out last night to see Andy Delly Murad fight Mike Lemaire for the WCK light heavyweight world title here is my take. From the outset, Murad set the pace, closed the distance and controlled Lemaire in the clinches to score knee strikes that left there mark on Lemaire’s thigh. Round #2 – Murad went right back to work not letting Lemaire find his range, landing some good combinations on the way in and out, then controlling on the clinch to sweep Lemaire. Round #3 was a repeat of Rounds 1 and 2, the applying of constant pressure that Lemaire had no defense for, more sweeps and control in the clinches. Round #4, Andy slowed his pace a bit and Lemaire tried to capitalize by landing aggressive elbows and going for the knockout since he knew he was behind the first three rounds. In Round 5, Murad picked up his pace and was back to landing some good push kicks then tying Lemaire up in the clinches and landing some more knees. Any judge, coach, fighter, or avid fan knows Andy won the fight 49-46. Andy won hands down. For the two judges who scored the fight for Lemaire, Art Akins and Ed Rivas, all I can say is, it’s time to get your eyes checked. So Mike can hold on to Andy’s belt. He knows and his whole team knows who won that fight. Congrats to Andy Delly Murad, the WCK light heavyweight champ.”

Bout 1o saw Mike Lemaire an instructor at the Art of Eight gym (bottom left photo) going up against Andy Murad (r) the part owner of the El Cajon Undisputed gym. Photos: Jim Wyatt

Bout #1o saw Mike Lemaire, popular instructor at the Art of Eight gym (bottom photo, left) go up against Andy Murad (r) part owner of the El Cajon Undisputed gym. Photos: J. Wyatt

Bt 10 b grabbing of the foot CollageBt 10 b Murad holds Lemaire leg Collage10 c punches start to reach their target Collage10 d Collage10 e final CollageFrom your impartial observer at ringside: “Considering his age and conditioning, Murad surprised everyone with his agility and stamina to be so long on the attack mode. Lemaire, his opponent, who is much taller, ripped with an enviable six pack, seemed content to go at a more leisurely, confident pace and used the first round for his feeling out process. Round #1 should go in the Murad column.

In Round #2, Lemaire evened things up by landing the majority of the harder kicks, elbows and short right crosses but was still unable to slow Murad down. Round #2 goes to Lemaire.

Round #3 had more than a few momentum swings and both fighters took turns landing the hard kicks and blows to the head. Edge goes to Murad.

By Round #4, Murad had slowed his pace and began a strategy of hitting and then holding. It was clear the referee and most likely the judges were adverse to this strategy and this may have been the period when they changed their allegiance in favor of Lemaire.

In the judges’ handbook it is written: ‘Judges are looking to award the fight to the strongest fighter. They are looking for evidence of the effect of techniques, mental strength, physical condition and technical ability. If a fighter is forced by his opponent to show weakness, or any evidence of not wanting to fight, the judges will award the fight to their opponent.’ 

In the fifth and final round it was an all out slugfest with streams of blood coming from Murad’s face and left ear. Lemaire’s share of bleeding came from a nasty gash over his left eye received in the third round. In the closing minute, Murad seemed completely spent and gasping for air, whereas, Lemaire was fresher and landing the sharper blows.”

As the ring announcer read off the scores, one judge had Lemaire ahead, another had Murad ahead. The third had Lemaire winning by a bunch. From the scores it’s apparent two judges gave virtually no credit for Murad’s technique of clinching and trying to get Lemaire off balance for the multiple takedowns. His technique works best in MMA when you’re constantly feeling out your opponents weight, and balance. Early on, Murad had the advantage of surprise and speed to pull this off. By the later rounds Lemaire would have none of it.”

In the Main Event, Bout #8, it was Jemyma Betrian of the Netherlands (the WBC Muay Thai Women’s Bantamweight World Title holder) being challenged by Marcela Soto of Costa Rica.

This one was over in a flash as Betrian wasted no time and went head hunting. Within seconds, Soto was being pummeled by both the right and left hands. The hurt look on her face told the tale. Before going down for the second and final count, she turned her back on Betrian. In Thailand, turning away from a fighter results in a fighter not only losing the round but the fight.

Top photos are of the current WBC Women's Muay Thai Bantamweight world  champion Jemyma Betrian of the Netherlands and the photos below show the challenger, Marcela Soto of Costa Rica.

Top photos are of the current WBC Women’s Muay Thai Bantamweight world champion Jemyma Betrian of the Netherlands. Photos below are of the challenger, Marcela Soto of Costa Rica who within seconds took a seat on the canvas. Photos: Jim Wyatt

Bt 8 b middle sequence CollageBt 8 b Betrian over Marcela Soto CollageBt 8 Jemyma Betrian over Marcela Soto Collage

The final championship bout, for the WCK Heavyweight World Title, featured 26 year-old Sergio “The Bear” Pique from the European fight team, Team Snipers, being tested by a newcomer Virgil Zwicker from the Bob Chaney Family Martial Arts, an established MMA fighter making the transition over to Muay Thai.

This match, with it’s nonstop action, had a lot in common with the Murad versus Lemaire tilt. A bit unorthodox, Zwicker came out like a street fighter. By the end of Round #2, the taller Pique seemed frustrated. In Round #3, he was issued a standing 8-count after a flash knockdown.

From that point on, Pique took control after landing the straighter shots and soon had Zwicker’s head snapping back. At times Zwicker appeared to be completely drained. He was even spitting up blood. Despite appearances, it may have only been a ploy to have Pique let his guard down, for each time he did let his guard down, the sly fox made him pay.

In the end, the decision went to Pique, the new WCK Muaythai World Heavyweight Champion.

Fighting for the WCK Muaythai Heavyweight Championship were Virgil Zwicker  (right with red gloves) and Sergio Pique (left, blue gloves).  Photos: Jim Wyatt

Fighting for the WCK Muaythai Heavyweight Championship were Virgil Zwicker (right with red gloves) and Sergio Pique (left, blue gloves). Photos: Jim Wyatt

Bt 11 cCollageBt 11 b CollageBt 11 4 Collage

In the bottom photo we see Virgil Zwicker (R) talking about his performance with his coach Bob Chaney.

In the bottom photo we see Virgil Zwicker (R) talking about his performance with his Muay Thai coach Bob Chaney.

 

In earlier action, Bout #1, an IAMTF Super Lightweight three rounder it was George Garcia winning a split decision victory over Jose Rodriguez.

In Bout #1, it was George Garcia (L) winning a split decision victory over Jose Rodriguez. Photos: Ahren Nunag

In Bout #1, it was George Garcia (left, pink trunks) winning a split decision victory over Jose Rodriguez (white trunks). Photos: Ahren Nunag

In Bout #2, an IAMTF Super Middleweight bout, Andrew Brown kicked and kneed his way to an unanimous decision victory over James Steelsmith.

In Bout #2, after three hard fought rounds, Andrew Brown (r) won an unanimous decision victory over James Steelsmith. Photos: Ahren Nunag

In Bout #2, after three hard fought rounds, Andrew Brown (r) won an unanimous decision victory over James Steelsmith. Photos: Ahren Nunag

In Bout #3, a WCK Muaythai Cruiserweight bout, Jacob Poss landed some beautiful kicks to the head to end up with a first round KO of Jason Rzepka.

Bout #3 featured cruiserweights Jacob Poss (top left) and Jason Rzepka. Photos: Ahren Nunag

Bout #3 featured cruiserweights Jacob Poss (top left with black trunks with yellow and red stripes) and Jason Rzepka. Photos: Ahren Nunag

In Bout #4, it was Marvin Madariaga of Blue Oceans, working over Greg Roberts to earn a third round TKO victory. The attached photos from famed photographer Ahren Nunag speak volumes of Madariaga’s domination. Madariaga is another fighter who competes in both Muay Thai and the Mixed Martial Arts.

In the above photo we have Marvin Madariaga (right, black trunks) landing a straight right on the chin of his opponent Greg Roberts. In the bottom photo, Madariaga (second from the right) is joined (l to r) by his support group, Kru Alex Palma, brother Lawrence Madariaga, Carl Gebhardt and finally Artem Sharoshkin.

In the above photo we have Marvin Madariaga (right, black trunks) landing a straight right on the chin of his opponent Greg Roberts in Bout #4. In the bottom photo, Madariaga (second from the right) is joined (l to r) by his support group, Kru Alex Palma, brother Lawrence Madariaga, Carl Gebhardt and finally fellow fighter Artem Sharoshkin.

Bout #5, a WBC Muaythai Super Welterweight bout, featured two, solid veterans, Joe Davidson, coached by Paulo Tocha and John Vargas coached by Jhanex Alviz of Victory MMA.

Prior to their meeting in Bout #5, fighters  John Vargas (top) and Joe Davidson (bottom) go through their regular rituals.

Prior to their meeting in Bout #5, fighters John Vargas (top) and Joe Davidson (bottom) go through their regular rituals. Photos: Ahren Nunag

With both fighters kicking and pummeling each other, there was a lot of blood spilt by the end of this match, a match won by Davidson by a majority decision.

Bout #6, a WCK Muaythai Super Welterweight bout, between Miguel Cosio and Afam Egobochuku could end up being one of the most memorable bouts on record. Highlights of this match will be aired over and over again for years and surely become a YouTube standard.

In Round #1, both fighters landed a knockout blow at the same time and went down for the count. In the center of the ring, there’s referee Jose Cobian giving the 10 count. Both fighters manage to get up at the same time. The same thing happens in Round #2. Then, to start the third round, Egobochuku gets knocked down. Before the 10 count expires, he gets back to his feet. Then, it was Cosio’s turn and down he went. Only this time, the referee ruled it was only a slip. The ruling must have wrangled Egobochuku because he went hard after Cosio and landed a punch that even Cosio could not recover from.

Afam Egobochuku (top left) and Miguel Cosio (top right) were involved in one of the most memorable bouts in the history of Muay Thai. You're going to have to see it to believe it. Photos: Ahren Nunag

Afam Egobochuku (top left) and Miguel Cosio (top right) were involved in one of the most memorable bouts in the history of Muay Thai. You’re going to have to see it to believe it. Photos: Ahren Nunag

Bt 6 midleCollageAfter intermission, Dennis Warner, the CEO of WCK Muay Thai which just celebrated their 25th anniversary, presented a plaque to their very first inductee into the WCK Hall of Fame, Melchor Menor aka “Coach Mel”. When the award was announced the great hall resounded with applause and cheers for the much admired, former two-time international Muay Thai champion and Art of Eight gym owner/master instructor. Menor was the WKA Super Elite Class World Champion from 1994-1997 and then the WMTF Muay Thai Champion in 1997.

On Saturday night, Melchor Menor aka "Coach Mel" became the first fighter inducted into the WCK Muay Thai Hall of Fame.

On Saturday night, Melchor Menor aka “Coach Mel” became the first fighter inducted into the WCK Muay Thai Hall of Fame.

In Bout #7, it was Adam Rothweiler from Blue Oceans facing Adrian Morilla of Team Morilla Muy Thai in a WBC Muay Thai featherweight bout.

In Bout #7, it was Adam Rothweiler (right, in the top right photo) going up against Adrian Morilla (top photo left).

In Bout #7, it was Adam Rothweiler (right, in the top right photo) going up against Adrian Morilla (top photo left).

Bt 7 momentum swings in Adam Rothweiler's favor CollageBt 7 c convidence level hits an all time high Collage

In the final photo, we see Adam Rothweiler (center) being joined by his support staff.

In the final photo, we see Adam Rothweiler (center) being joined by his support staff.

In Round #1, Morilla started out strong – his kicks were well placed and his punches seemed to be reaching their target. By the end of Round #2, Rothweiler and Morilla were exchanging kicks and blows at the same pace. Round #3 became the turning point in the match, as Rothweiler’s kicks were harder and his successful headhunting began in earnest.

By the end of Round #4, you could see Morilla was a beaten man and his eyes were puffy. While keeping his guard up, Rothweiler kept coming with the combinations plus occasional high kicks to assert his authority and win the bout by an unanimous decision.

In the top photo collage fighters Josh Aragon (top) and Karl Santiago ( bottom right) go through their regular ritual prior to Saturday's showdown in the ring.

In the top photo collage fighters Josh Aragon (top) and Karl Santiago (bottom right) go through their regular ritual prior to Saturday’s meeting in the ring.

Bt 9 c CollageBt 9 d CollageBt 9 final Collage

Bout #9 was a WCK Muaythai Super Welterweight bout between Josh “El Gato” Aragon and Karl Santiago of Victory MMA, two fighters with a lot of experience.

From the moment Aragon appeared in the ring, you could see there was this special aura manifesting itself. His support group was very professional, his ceremonial walk about the ring and his Ram Muay Wai khru, the ritual performed before each match, let everyone know how serious he is about the sport.

On Saturday night, Aragon’s KO victory came by way of a reverse elbow. The first of two reverse elbows saw Santiago walk right through this hammer like punch. The second reverse elbow sent him to the canvas – face first.

One can only wonder if there will ever be a Muaythai show as riveting as this one.

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