As part of the agreement between Lion Fight and UFC, Lion Fight 16 will start their weekend of fights Friday, July 4th, at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. The headlining bout between “the Soul Assassin”, Kevin Ross, and Australian hard hitter, Michael “Tomahawk” Thompson, has the inaugural Super Lightweight Championship on the line as well as the potential for a Fight of the Year candidate.
The possibility lies within their mutual propensity to attack their opponent and smother them with a variety of violence, through step in and clinch knees, elbows, kicks, and hook punches. Thompson has a brutal spinning back elbow he rolls into off his jab and missed crosses, and Ross possesses great uppercut elbows and kick counters. Furthermore, neither of their offenses are negated or even necessarily compromised against their opponents’ flurries, which each will attempt to seek/pursue against the other in this bout.
Thompson side steps well as his opponents move in to issue punches of his own or angle in with an uppercut; whereas, Ross does an excellent job of turning his opponent with his movement, especially against fighters who come forward, and creates and finds openings for his strikes. At Lion Fight 15 Ross showcased the zenith of his abilities opposite fellow American Chris Mauceri, executing this approach flawlessly and using Mauceri’s persistence after Ross opened a nasty cut on his forehead in the first round to his detriment.
The trouble Thompson poses for Ross is the same he poses for everyone, and it is pressure managed by an acute fight intelligence, speed, plus heavy elbows and punches. To defeat Thompson Ross will have to replicate the movement he featured in his previous outing, and not enable Thompson to stay in front of him or stop his movement, either, with his left body to right head combination. He lost to Tetsuya Yamato at Lion Fight 11 in part due to remaining stationary, giving up elbows up the middle, and keeping his right hand down.
If something is working he also needs to stay with it and feint it to set up other offense. Yamato could not stop Ross’ left body kick and he would forget about it. Pinpointing advantages, both before and during the fight, are paramount, and in my opinion Thompson’s greatest leverage aside from his power. Ross wavers. Versus Pornsansae Sitmonchai at Caged Muay Thai 2, Thompson made a quick adjustment from throwing primarily hook punches to upper cuts and knees up the middle.
The change precipitated Thompson taking over the fight, throttling him, and then knocking him down in the second round, before tiring in the middle of the third and Sitmonchai landing a few shots to close it. This is an area Ross has the chance to exploit. Unless he is swept in the first three rounds or gets knocked out, Ross should find opportunities in the fourth and fifth when Thompson fades and maybe take a decision. I don’t see him finishing Thompson.
My expectation is Michael Thompson wins, complimentary of a fourth round KO. Ross has the temerity to endure Thompsons’ onslaught and interchange it with his own, but I don’t anticipate that it is going to be enough tomorrow night in Las Vegas.
Though the actual result might turn out to be irrelevant, for it is not what raised you to your feet. It was everything before, and there will be a lot before, perhaps enough to be subsequently called Fight of the Year.