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Kevin Ross Talks Signing with Bellator Kickboxing, Freedom of Expression and Always Entertaining

Perhaps the thing that caught my eye the most about the early leaks for the inaugural Bellator Kickboxing card was some of the names included. Sure, Melvin Manhoef makes a lot of sense, considering he’s signed to Bellator for MMA already, but it was the names Denise Kielholtz, Raymond Daniels and Kevin Ross that really caught my eye. All three were stars in other promotions before; Kielholtz in Enfusion Live, Daniels in GLORY and Ross in Lion Fight. While Daniels departing GLORY came as a bit of a shock, Kevin Ross signing with Bellator Kickboxing was the real surprise.

Kevin Ross is perhaps the poster boy for muay thai in the United States, to the point where Ross himself is sort of a meme. Seriously, Ross is sort of a meme for this photo of him bowing, fists extended towards the camera with the words “muay thai” scrawled across his knuckles. Chances are that you’ve seen that photo before, even if you aren’t super into kickboxing or muay thai. Regardless, Ross made his name among hardcore fans as a tough-as-nails American nak muay who wasn’t afraid to fly over to Thailand and scrap with the best of them or to sign on to face top level Thais in his home of California. The list of Thai opponents stretches from Coke Chunhawat to Malaipet, Sagetdao and even, yes, one of the greatest of all time in Saenchai. 

The Famous Photo of Ross
The Famous Photo of Ross

Win, lose or draw (Ross actually has zero draws to his credit) Ross is always looking to entertain. “I’m there to put on a show for the fans,” he explained to me. “I put everything into my fights, I’m never taking it easy or trying to just hold on, I’m always doing my best even if it means losing.” This is the Kevin Ross that endeared himself to a larger audience thanks to Lion Fight’s television deal with AXS TV that saw Ross as one of Lion Fight’s centerpieces for so long. Much like Ross explained, he entertained in each and every outing with Lion Fight, which is what made the fact that Lion Fight somehow let him go all the more insane. Who let’s a guy like that go?

Bellator’s Scott Coker made a deal that Ross simply couldn’t resist. “What’s important to me is staying active, being able to go anywhere and fight anyone if I have downtime. That’s what they offered me. Of course, Bellator is my home base and takes priority, but part of my deal is that I can take outside fights.” If you’ve never spoken to Kevin before he’s an incredibly nice guy, always easy to talk with. I joked with him about how he had multiple fight offers in China, only for those to fall apart due to his contractual obligations and exclusivity. “Yeah, exactly,” he said. “I can take outside fights now. If you are gonna keep me under lock and key at least keep me active. Fighting once or twice a year just isn’t enough.”

As I mentioned above, Ross is best known for muay thai. In fact, if you talk to Ross he’ll express his love and passion for the sport, but kickboxing has been on his agenda for a while now. Ross has had multiple false starts when it comes to kickboxing, from being booked with K-1 in China to GLORY announcing that they signed Ross only for Lion Fight to impose their will and keep Ross from fighting there. I’ve always seen Ross as sort of a ride-or-die guy for muay thai, but he brushed that off.

“Muay thai is my passion,” he explained, “but I’ve always loved kickboxing as well. I’ve always been a fan of it and it’s a really good fit for me. I can’t throw elbows or anything, but that’s okay.” His style actually adapts incredibly well to kickboxing. Ross has a fluid style that relies a bit heavier on range than your average muay thai fighter. Sure, kickboxing lacks the clinch or the elbows, but that also means we probably won’t have that many more Kevin Ross bloodbaths, which got a laugh out of him. “Yeah, I’m comfortable with kickboxing, for sure. You’ll see the same Kevin Ross that you always see, I’m gonna be fighting my heart out as always.”

And fight he will, because on April 16th he’s schedule against Matteo Taccini, whom we both admitted to not exactly know a ton about. “I know that he’s young, I know that he’s hungry and for me this isn’t anything different. I’m prepared to be myself and to fight like I always do, whatever he brings to the table I’ll be prepared for. It’s gonna be a fun fight.”

The future's looking bright for Ross, who admits that he’s been fighting for over 13 years now. The inevitable question was that now that he’s under contract to Bellator would he consider MMA, something that he had considered for a long time in the past, but was able to avoid. The answer was pretty simple. “If I was going to do it, I would have done it already, you know? For a long time I thought that I was going to, I was getting ready for it. Never say never, I guess? But probably not.” We had agreed that it makes a bigger statement for him to stay where he is, and according to Ross he’s already see the flow move towards kickboxing and muay thai thanks to the popularity of Glory and Lion Fight. “I’m already seeing fighters trying to make their way in kickboxing, choosing it over MMA, I think that you’ll see more of that in the future.”

When I brought up the topic of if MMA and kickboxing needed to be connected closely for kickboxing and muay thai to grow, or if it was detrimental he was optimistic in it finding its own audience as well as appealing to fight fans in general. “It’s a little of both, I think. I don’t think that being closely related to MMA will be a bad thing for it, or that anyone will look down on it. I think that people will realize that it’s different and that it’ll come into its own. I’m just happy that I get to be a part of it and to help move the sport forward still.”

The decision that Ross made to jump to Bellator Kickboxing is a huge one for the sport, with Ross being incredibly upbeat heading into his first fight for the organization and clearly holds Scott Coker and his past accomplishments within kickboxing and MMA in high regards. “I mean, it’s Scott Coker,” he said, “his track record speaks for itself. Nobody has more experience doing what he’s done and how he’s done it, I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out and I’m honored to be an important part of it. He’s got the right fighters, the right team and the right network in Spike TV in place to help to make this a success.” 

Indeed, Scott Coker made his mark on kickboxing a great deal of years ago with his own events before he took the reins of K-1 USA and before Strikeforce transitioned to MMA and took the world by storm. On April 16th (airing on April 22nd on Spike TV) we’ll see the vision start to fall into place with Kevin Ross at the forefront against Matteo Taccini.

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Lion Fight 10 Weigh-In Video

  • Published in Muay Thai

Lion Fight

Lion Fight 10 goes down tonight, live on AXS TV at 10PM Eastern time. It is set to feature two huge title bouts as well as some big names featured throughout the rest of the card. Lion Fight always finds a way to deliver and tonight should be no different, so make sure to tune in for some live muay thai action tonight, which of course LiverKick will be covering live.

Here is some video from the weigh-ins to give you a taste for what is in store for tonight.

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Jennifer Colomb to Now Fight Cris Cyborg at Lion Fight 11

  • Published in Muay Thai

LF11

Man, as if Cris "Cyborg" Justino fighting in Lion Fight wasn't weird enough, now her original opponent, Martina Jindrova, has pulled out of the fight this Friday due to an injury and Lion Fight has had to find a late replacement by the way of Jennifer Colomb. Here's the skinny from the statement they issued today;

Lion Fight CEO Scott Kent stated, “Martina Jindrova had to pull out on short notice due to injury, and fortunately we were able to sign Jennifer Colomb and get her to Las Vegas to take on Cyborg. We wish Martina well and hope she recovers quickly. We also thank Team Colomb for working with Lion Fight to give our fans this incredible fight Friday night between two female Muay Thai Champions.”

“I am disappointed that Martina got injured and had to withdraw, but I have trained very hard and am grateful that Jennifer Colomb has stepped up,” said Cris “Cyborg”. “Nothing changes - I am ready and will bring it to Colomb on Friday night.”

30-year old Jennifer Colomb has an incredible record of 10 wins with 10 knockouts and zero losses. The 5’9” French Muay Thai Champion trains with the renowned team Kan-Kra out of Bordeaux, France and is known for her aggression, strength and crushing KOs. Taking this fight with one week’s notice, Lion Fight 11 will mark the first time ever that Colomb has fought in America.

“It is short notice but I am ready and very excited to take this opportunity and fight for Lion Fight Muay Thai in America against one of the best female fighters in the world,” said Colomb.

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Lion Fight 15 Highlights and Results

  • Published in Americas

(C) Bauzen

Last night at Foxwoords Resort and Casino in Connecticut Lion Fight made their East Coast debut with Lion Fight 15. It was an exciting night of action that saw Lion Fight standouts Kevin Ross and Tiffany Van Soest back in the winners column. The main event saw Muay Thai sensation Cosmo Alexandre score a unanimous decision victory over Mark Holst.

Cosmo Alexandre (R5 - Dec.) Mark Holst

Kevin Ross (R3 - TKO) Chris Mauceri

Tiffany Van Soest (R5 - Split Decision) Lucy Payne

Mohammed Lemjerdine (R5 - Dec.) Jason Andrada

Pedro Gonzales (R2 - TKO) Nick Chasteen

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Former Bellator Champ Zoila Frausto Makes Muay Thai Debut

  • Published in Muay Thai

WCK

Former Bellator 115lbs Champion Zoila Frausto will make her Muay Thai debut this weekend on a Dennis Warner WCK Muay Thai event. The event goes down at 7pm on Saturday, February 15th from the Pechanga Resort and Casino. For those that live in the San Diego area or know how to dial in their satellite dish to pick up regional Fox Sports networks the event will air on Fox Sports San Diego live.

Here's hoping to a good showing from Zoila Frausto, who trains out of the CSA Gym in Dublin, California, and hopefully we see yet another star MMA fighter turn to Kickboxing and Muay Thai as a viable path as there are more and more options out there in the wild right now, from Lion Fight to GLORY. If you are in the area or get Fox Sports San Diego the WCK event looks like something definitely worth checking out.

Zoila

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Lion Fight 16 Live Results

  • Published in Americas

Lion Fight 16 goes down live tonight at 9pm Eastern time on AXS TV, hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada at UFC's International Fight Week fan expo. That's a pretty big deal, let me tell you. So join us here at LiverKick for live results and discussion of tonight's big Lion Fight 16 event on this Fourth of July. Celebrate America's birthday with the science of eight limbs. Make sure to follow both Dave (@liverkickdotcom) and Jay (@JayJauncey) for live talk and updates on Lion Fight 16. 

Super Lightweight Title Bout
Kevin Ross vs Michael Thompson - Kevin Ross wins Unanimous Decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)
Co-Main Event
Tiffany Van Soest vs Sindy Huyer - Tiffany Van Soest Wins 56 seconds into 5th Rd TKO (doctor stoppage by front kick to the face followed by a nip slip)
Super Fight
Rungravee Sasiprapa vs. Adrian Morilla - Rungravee Sasiprapa wins Unanimous Decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-45)
Tyler Toner vs. Gaston Bolanos - Gaston Bolanos Wins 1st Rd TKO (corner stoppage due to cut, did not answer opening bell for 2nd round)
Josh Shepard vs Casey Parlett - Casey Parlett Wins Split Decision (48-46, 46-48, 49-45)

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Jorina Baars Not Competing at Lion Fight 18 After Contract Dispute

  • Published in Muay Thai

Now this is kind of a bummer right here. Jorina Baars, holder of the Lion Fight Women's Welterweight Championship was set to defender her championship against Anke Van Gestel at Lion Fight 18 this weekend when things fell through this week. According to reports, Baars and Lion Fight had a last-minute contract negotiation and were unable to come to an agreement in time for the fight this weekend, with both sides probably walking away pretty unhappy about this last-minute change to the card. 

Jorina Baars was last seen annihilating Cris Cyborg Justino in March. 

Lion Fight 18 takes place on Friday at 10pm on AXS TV.

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Jason Andrada Dishes on Rematches, Lion Fight 22 and how Kevin Ross is the Keanu Reeves of Muay Thai

  • Published in Interviews

Lion Fight 22 is on Friday evening on AXS TV, live from Las Vegas and as always, they are promising a night of high octane muay thai action. They’ve yet to fail to deliver since they’ve gone live on AXS TV and even though there was a last minute change to the main event, the show is still primed to deliver a lot of full rules muay thai action. A part of that action is Jason Andrada vs. Anthony Castrejon at 122lbs.

When it came time for me to decide who to focus on for this event, as much as I respect Kevin Ross and Tiffany Van Soest or the main eventer Jo Nattawut, it was hard not to be drawn to Jason Andrada. Andrada is not the most experienced fighter on the card -- even though he had a long, storied amateur career before turning pro -- but he’s been featured on Lion Fight events for a while now. He’s coming off of a tough loss to John Nofer that came via an elbow TKO but he was all smiles after that loss, showing more character in loss than most show in victory. 

Andrada is one of those guys that you might not see main eventing Lion Fight events, but more often than not you see him on the card and when you see him, you know to expect a fun fight and for him to leave it all in the ring. It’s not a coincidence, either, because his disposition is that of a laid back guy that is always looking to put on a show. Andrada sees himself as one of the many guys who is just trying to make an impression.

“You know, I think for some guys, guys like the ones that I’ve been fighting like Nofer, they’re all looking to make a name for themselves just like I am. There are a lot of guys out there that aren’t getting featured on TV like I am and they are clawing for those spots,” he explained. “All of these guys out there they go out there swinging, not many fighters that I’ve encountered are gonna take a shot and not want to go down swinging. Look at a guy like Pedro Gonzalez, for example. A lot of people in muay thai want to see someone demonstrating their perfect muay thai technique, but he’s more of a brawler, an MMA guy. I like watching him fight and so do a lot of other people, if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.”

He was quick to point out some of the more established names in the world of muay thai like Kevin Ross, Chad Mulkey, Joe Schilling and Tiffany Van Soest earned their spots through not only being skilled, but through their humility, personalities and experience. Andrada is quite accomplished in his own right, but he’s quick to point out those that have accomplished more than him and how he strives to be better and achieve what they have. 

Muay Thai might be a career for Andrada now, who spends most of his time at the gym training for fights or holding classes, but he likes to get some distance sometimes as well. “I love fighting, of course,” he said. “But sometimes I need time away from it, so I’m not one of those guys that has to watch every fight ever. I’ll watch my friends, you know? If Kevin, Chaz, Joe, any of my friends are fighting I’ll watch it and look, I could read off a pretty long list of fighters that I’m friends with and watch them fight, but I’m not a junkie for it anymore or anything. It’s nice to take time away. You know, I come home, I watch TV, watch Netflix, just relax sometimes and get some distance. It keeps the passion there.”

His fight on Friday is a rematch with Anthony Castrejon, the two of them meeting a few years back when they were both amateurs in a bout that Castrejon won via a head kick knockout. Andrada is open to any and all challenges, but was not really looking for this rematch. “I mean, we’ve fought before, he landed a nice head kick, which was good for him, but we are professionals now. A few of my recent professional fights have been rematches from my amateur days, which is fine,” he explained. “But look, like 1/3rd of my pro fights have been rematches from my amateur days. He’s been calling me out since before he fought Victor Saravia, so he’s wanted this for a while. I’m looking to grow as a fighter and be ready to challenge these international guys. I’m not saying that I’m looking past anyone,” he said. “I’m really not, I just want to be fighting guys from all over the world now. I want to be fighting guys from Japan, Europe and Thailand, I want to be ready to be able to go overseas and make a big impression. I don’t know if these rematches are going to really prepare me for that.”

He goes on to explain that it isn’t a great fight for either of them, considering that a loss for either guy could be the end of their Lion Fight careers. “I look at how UFC handles losses and you know, once you start racking up a few in a row they tend to cut a guy. I don’t want to be that guy and I’m sure that Castrejon doesn’t want to be that guy, either. Two straight losses wouldn’t be a good thing.”

Andrada is a guy that isn’t afraid to talk about his shortcomings, although he admits talking about losses can be tough. “Man, it sucks when I meet somebody new and they are like; ‘what do you do?’ I tell them that I’m a fighter and they ask about my last fight and it’s like, you gotta tell them that you came in second place,” he joked. “Nobody wants to have to say that, to say that you lost, but you gotta look forward.”

When it comes to Kevin Ross, it’s hard for Andrada to not talk about his friend and cohort with nothing but respect. “Kevin is a great guy, really. I mean, I learn so much from him still and no matter how much success he has, he’s always the same guy,” which spiraled into us discussing how Ross handles himself in the ring, how he’s always entertaining and composed, but always easy to talk to and deal with. “Yeah, I mean, he’s like the Keanu Reeves of muay thai in a way. He has all of this success and he hasn’t changed, he’s still the same guy. At the same time, he’s been through a lot of tough stuff in his life and he doesn’t let it drag him down. He’s always that guy that I like to be around.”

It should be noted that Andrada himself is heading down that same path right now; the amiable guy that seems always cool to be around. He loves to eat and is eagerly awaiting his favorite part of his post-fight life; feasting on some pizza. What struck me the most was that I was talking to him while he was gearing up to head out to the weigh-ins for Lion Fight 22, him just having stepped out of an epsom bath and he was not only in good spirits, but exhibited the same easy-going, friendly demeanor that Ross always projects while still focused and prepared for his fight. 

Becoming a star in any sport is difficult, there will be setbacks, there will be moments of glory and there will be those quiet, contemplative moments. Andrada has experienced many of these throughout the span of his professional and amateur career thus far and tomorrow night looks to be another in those collection of moments that will make up his career while he continues to strive for greatness and move up the ladder. What we know is that no matter what Andrada is looking to put his body on the line and to entertain us and that he’ll do it with a smile. Because he’s that ridiculous.

Lion Fight 22 airs tomorrow night, May 22nd on AXS TV at 10:00pm Eastern time.

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East Coast Muay Thai Goes Big Time

  • Published in Muay Thai

(C) Bauzen

May 23rd, 2014-Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, CT-

The biggest Muay Thai Promotion in North America has finally brought its great product, Lion Fights, to the East Coast.  The event brought some of the biggest established names in North American Muay Thai into the ring as well as some solid up-and-comers and talented amateurs.  In a region of the country that has seen some recent criticisms of its Muay Thai and MMA scene’s refs, judges and sanctioning bodies, Lion Fight rose above, and but for a slip-up by the announcer, had solid reffing, judging, and even the ringside doctors did a great job in monitoring the cuts during the show.

In the Main Event, the much touted Cosmo Alexandre faced off with the Canadian Mark Holst.  Alexandre, the Brazilian ex-patriot, looked physically stronger, moved better, and for the full five rounds looked like a Lumpini champion sparring with a talented but not at his level professional.  Cosmo controlled the pace and action, absorbed what he allowed and then landed hard overhand rights, at will.  Holst was game, and kept attacking, but he saw early that his power had no effect, while Alexandre’s shots knocked him off his spot and bent him like a palm tree in the wind.  All three judges had it for Alexandre: 50-45, 49-45, and 49-47.

The Co-Main Event was really the fight of the night.  Like a gourmet meal, it wasn’t the biggest serving, but you got was absolutely awesome.  The action started before the bell finished tolling, Mauceri came straight out of his corner like cannonfire, as is his usual style.  The veteran, Kevin Ross, had obviously watched tape and game-planned for this.  Ross used Mauceri’s straight forward approach to lure him into traps, letting Mauceri run into his elbows,  use his movement, his ring-savvy and crafty combos effectively.  In the first few minutes Mauceri’s head crashed into Kevin’s right elbow, resulting in a deep, deep gash on his forehead, above the left eye.  The blood began to flow immediately and the referee stopped the fight to let the ringside physicians take a look.  One came and looked deeply into the cut, he then called over the other physician who looked again, they conferred, and as if in response to the crowd calling for it to continue, decided to give him a chance to finish the round and let his corner work on it.  Knowing the immediacy of the situation, Mauceri turned the aggression on, landing punch and kick combos, and pushing Ross to the ropes.  But the always cagey Ross used great lateral movement to circumvent Mauceri’s attacks and set up flashy elbow attacks and punch combinations.  After the Black and Blue team had a minute to work on Mauceri’s cut, he came out hard and fast in round 2, catching Ross with a great sweep that scored well.  But Ross laughed it off confidently and went to work over the rest of the second and beginning of the third round, carving the always advancing Mauceri’s head up with his elbows, causing the doctors to stop the fight and leaving a scar like the Mark of Zorro, in 25 stitches on Mauceri’s head as a souvenir.  Wow!

In other notable action, Tiffany van Soest stepped into Payne’s pocket, in close enough range for van Soest to land effectively, but too close for Payne’s much longer arms and legs to have any power.  The pressure, movement and power of van Soest were too much for the game and fighting back Payne, but in the end, the Unanimous Decision went to Tiffany: 50-45, 50-46, and 49-46.  Mohammed Lemjerdine took on Jason Andrada for the second time.  Again, the longer more technical and traditional Lemjerdine controlled the action, scoring two flash knockdowns in the first, that I thought didn’t need to be counted in either instance, but the referee did, thus giving Mohammed a big advantage on the cards.  Andrada responded very well, and made it a great and entertaining fight, but couldn’t find that knockout button he used to take the victory last time.  The Unanimous Decision went to Lemjerdine: 48-47, 48-45, and 48-46.  As a last minute replacement, Pedro Gonzalez stepped in and took on Nick Chasteen.  Gonzalez was consistent in his attack, driving Chasteen to the ropes, clinching and mushing, and then dropping elbows and knees when he had position.  It was very effective for him, as he scored a standing 8 and a cut over Chasteen’s left eye in the first and then sealing the deal with another series of elbows that cut Chasteen badly enough for the doctors to signal an end to the fight.  In both fighters’ pro debut, Tim Amorim showed what traditional Muay Thai strategy and technique can do against a more kickboxing, TKD style as he chopped down Tom Evans front leg, and evaded the spinning back kicks and fists to land hard punches and elbows, causing Evan’s cornermen to stop the fight between the 2nd and 3rd rounds, giving Amorim a TKO victory in his young record.

Amateur Bouts on the card included:

Brian Bogue def. Jesse Skomial by UD

Brandy Young def. Colleen Downey by UD

Stephane Kenny (ne Smarth) def. Dave Hayrikyan UD

Patrick Rivera def. Pavel Zawistowski by MD

Phil DaSilva def. Stoney Morales by MD

 

 

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Lion Fight 14 Live Results

  • Published in Americas

LF

Tonight at 10pm Eastern time Lion Fight 14 airs live on AXS TV! The event is headlined by Gregory Choplin vs. Marco Pique, with Cris Cyborg Justino vs. Jorina Baars serving as the co-main event that the MMA world is going to be watching very closely. Join us here on LiverKick for live results and coverage.

  • LION FIGHT 14 MAIN EVENT:
  • Gregory Choplin (164 lbs.) (R5 - Dec.) Marco Pique (162 lbs.) - Super Middleweight division
  • CO-MAIN EVENT WELTERWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT:
  • Jorina Baars (144 lbs.) (R5 - Dec.) Cris “Cyborg” Justino (145 lbs.) – Welterweight division
  • FEATURE FIGHT:
  • Shane Oblonsky (145 lbs.) (R5 - Dec.) Malaipet (143 lbs.) – Welterweight division
  • Eddie Abasolo (154 lbs.) (R5 - Dec.) Jonathon Wyderko (153 lbs.) – Middleweight division
  • Victor Saravia (121 lbs.) (R3 - TKO) Anthony Castrejon (123 lbs.)  – Featherweight division
  • Gaston Bolanos (142.5 lbs) (R4 - TKO) Brian Del Rosario (142.5 lbs.) – Welterweight division
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