This Independence Day the Muay Thai Lion Fights held a showcase at the Pearls at Palms in Las Vegas, and gave a glimpse into the next generation of fighters in the discipline. This week in Vegas, more so than even is normally the case, fighting is king. The UFC Fight week is being held here, culminating in a Fan Expo this weekend and two nights of feature fights. Prelude to these activities, the Lion Fights are providing solid fighting entertainment for those enthusiasts who want to see the rising stars who might potentially be getting their shot in the near future.
The Muay Thai bouts, both the amateur and professional, are followed enthusiastically by faithful fans. Coverage on the AX S network has increased the popularity of the Muay Thai fights, and continues to do so. That combined with the exposure of events like UFC Week has caused the fan base to expand exponentially. Friday’s amateur bouts showcased five fights, and gave the Vegas crowds a look at some fighters who show a great deal of potential to be significant draws in the very near future.
The second fight of the evening featured amateur Zach Bunnell against Bryce Shephard-Mejia. This was one of the better match-ups of the amateur card. Bunnell won in a unanimous decision, but the fight was closer than it might seem. In fact, three seconds before the final bell rang, it was Bunnell who was on his back on the mat. That said, Bunnell was clearly the victor, and showed signs of being ready to make the leap to professional soon. This is a guy to watch.
There were two amateur bouts for the women on the card. The first of them was, by far, the most interesting. Amanda Jones from Dynamix Martial Arts in Santa Monica was up against fan-favorite Christine Ferea. Ferea did not disappoint her growing following. She was dynamic while maintaining intense focus, and proved to be too much for Jones. She also won by unanimous decision. Ferea, of the women competing, stood out as a cut above the rest. The other bout for the women between Gabriela Carillo and Fanny Tommasino was a lackluster showing from both fighters, with Tommasino edging Carillo in a split decision which could have gone either way. A good show, but not at the level of the other amateur bouts for the evening.
The final bout for the amateurs in the Lion Fights was brief. It lasted just over three-quarters of a minute. 46 seconds in, Brian Cuba gave Bret Smith a shot which completely stunned him and ended the bout. While his opponent looked good briefly, Cuba quickly let it be known that he had his sights set well beyond Smith. It was a small sampling, but he showed a form which was pointed toward future success.
The UFC Fight Week is in full swing and the Muay Thai Lion Fights at the Palms have given the fight fans a showcase of amateur talent which makes it clear that the future of the sport is in good hands. The professionals on the card for the night were all watching closely, as some of these fighters might soon be joining their ranks. With the increasing popularity of AXS and other outlets providing cable access to the sport, it has nowhere to go but up.
By Jim Malone