From Frank Curreri of Lion Fight Promotions Muay Thai comes the following insightful interview with World Champ Jorina “Jo-Jo” Baars who says she’s excited about the upcoming Cris “Cyborg” Justino fight.
Baars has paid an unexpected price for her 35-0-3 pro record and two world championships: It’s become ridiculously difficult for the Netherlands Muay Thai/kickboxing star to land a fight. How difficult? Baars says she hasn’t fought in Muay Thai or kickboxing for over three years.
“In the Netherlands nobody will fight me,” says the 25 year-old, “and also in Germany nobody will fight me. I’m not sure why. My mindset was, ‘I will be the best, so I need to beat the best.’ I think they’re thinking, ‘I would lose to Jorina so I’ll fight another woman that I can beat.’ I believe that’s the new spirit or something.
That’s why my last fight was in April (2013) and it was MMA. And my last Thai boxing match was in 2011.”
So how do you make a living if it’s so difficult to find fights in your home country and Germany?
“I’m the head of security at a big nightclub called Paradiso in Amsterdam. It holds about 1,500 people. It’s not very normal for a woman to be head of security at nightclub, but sometimes yes. But there’s no fighting at my job. I just teach the bouncers how to handle situations.”
That’s why Baars is downright ecstatic to battle Cris “Cyborg”Justino for the Lion Fight women’s welterweight world title on Friday, March 28 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (broadcast live on AXS TV at 10 ET/7 PT). Baars predicts Cyborg (5-0) will be the toughest challenge of her career, a distinction that currently belongs to Baar’s 2007 clash with Nong Toom, a ferocious male fighter in Thailand who underwent a sex change and fought Baar as a female.
“Nong Toom who fought at Lumpinee stadium in Thailand as a man but had a sex operation and became a female fighter,” Baar explained. “As a male fighter she (Toom) had 20 wins and 18 wins by knockout. I fought her as a female and that was a very hard Thai boxing fight. She felt strong like a man. The first kick she landed against my chest knocked me backwards and I thought, ‘(Expletive), why did I say yes to this fight?’ She kicked more during the fight and I countered with boxing and I won on points. That was a hard fight, but I was stronger so …
“I think my fight against Cris will be a hard, five-round fight; it might be my hardest fight ever. It will be amazing fight that’s for sure!”
Baar covered many other topics during a recent interview to promote Friday’s highly anticipated co-main event.
Why do you think Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg and Gina Carano were able to capture the imagination of fans in a way that other women did not?
“That’s a good question. I don’t know. I really don’t know. Because there are a lot of good women fighters. But it’s the same thing with male fighters; some fighters are always on TV and in the media and others are not? Why? I don’t know.”
Describe your fighting style.
“I’m an all-around fighter so when people are good boxers, I can rely on my boxing but also do more kicking. When I fight a Thai boxer, I can do boxing. And when an opponent is good in the clinch, I can keep her at a distance. So I can fight everyone because it’s easy for me to switch styles in a fight.”
How do you expect Cris Cyborg to fight you?
“I think she’ll come forward because I don’t think she can fight backwards. I think I’ll keep her at a distance and when she comes forward I’ll use the clinch, knees and elbows. She’s a good, strong fighter but this is a good fight for me because she’s got a name here in America and around the world, and I’ve got a name in Europe, so bring it on.”
You’ve never lost: 35-0-3. Your confidence must be incredible because you don’t know what it feels like to lose in professional kickboxing or Muay Thai.
“Ah, but I know how it feels to lose because I lost three of my MMA fights! But Thai boxing is my style and my style works. I’m a complete fighter. I was 7 when I started training and 12 when I started fighting. It’s very hard getting to the top. And it’s much harder to get to the top and stay there because people are always trying to kick you from the top.
Have you ever been to Thailand?
“Yes, I’ve been there five times for Muay Thai training. It’s a great place to be. It’s warm, nice weather and the culture is nice. I like going to there to learn the newest and latest techniques.
Holland has produced many top kickboxers and Muay Thai fighters. In the Netherlands we are more all-around fighters. We can do boxing, kicking or Thai boxing.”
Which do you enjoy more, kickboxing or Muay Thai, and why?
“Muay Thai because it’s complete and includes elbows.”
We’re entering a fascinating time in fight sports because women are gaining much more attention and popularity. Talk about that phenomenon.
“Yes the sport is evolving and it’s an inspiring time for women because of fighters like Cris Cyborg and Ronda Rousey. They are making kickboxing, Muay Thai and MMA much bigger because they’re all over TV and the Internet. It’s good to see the women also get attention.”
Lion Fight 14
Friday, March 28, 2014
The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas, NV
Following matches have all been confirmed
Gregory Choplin (USA/France) vs Marco Pique (Holland) 163 lbs
Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (Pacific Beach, San Diego, CA) vs Jorina Baars (Holland) 145 lbs /Women’s Welterweight Lion Fight Title
Malaipet Sasiprapa (USA/Thailand) vs Shane Oblonsky (Santa Ana, CA) 145 lbs
Anthony Castrejon (Las Vegas, NV) vs Victor Saravia (N. Hollywood, CA) 122 lbs – Saravia is making his pro debut
Jonathon Wyderko (Aurora, CO) vs Eddie Abasolo (Vallejo, CA) 154 lbs
Gaston Bolanos (Dublin, CA) vs Brian Del Rosario (Van Nuys, CA) 142 lbs – both fighters are making their pro debut