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British Kickboxer Mark Fowler Dies Due to Injuries in the Ring in Australia

There is always some tough news in the world of combat sports, and this story I've seen floated around for a few days now and have neglected on purpose, but I feel as if it does need to be posted. British kickboxing champion Mark Fowler was fighting in Sydney, Australia over the weekend in a Muay Thai bout and collapsed in the fifth round of the fight due to head injuries and was unable to regain consciousness, passing away two days later in the hospital. This begs the question of just how safe combat sports are and how serious head injuries and head trauma should be taken within the realm of combat sports.

Combat sports are high impact and dangerous, which is really the name of the game. In reaction to this death many critics are calling for a deeper look into regulations and rules within kickboxing and Muay Thai, but it isn't clear if this is just an isolated incident or if there was a pre-existing injury that helped cause this accident. There is already talk from UK officials on looking into this incident;

 

New South Wales Sports Minister Graham Annesley has ordered an inquiry into the death which will be investigated by the coroner.

He said: 'I have also instructed the Office of Communities to implement any additional precautions considered necessary to ensure all similar upcoming events fully comply with current legislation and safety requirements.'

 

Of course accidents like this are horrifying, if not rare and careful thought should go into further regulation/restrictions on the respective sports. Our thoughts go out to the family of the deceased and for the opponent who has a tough burden to live with.

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Why Sakmongkol Can Beat Cosmo Alexandre

This Saturday in Primm Nevada Cosmo Alexandre will be fighting a true legend of Muay Thai, Sakmongkol Zingano, who formerly went by Sakmongkol Sitchuchoke. On paper it would appear that this is a bit of a gimme for Cosmo. He's younger, he's stronger, he's bigger, and he's near or maybe even in his prime years. Sakmongkol on the other hand is probably about 15-18 years past his prime, and has been very inactive over the last 6 or 7 years, with his last notable win being over John Wayne Parr. He' mostly been doing Kyokushin tournaments under the name Kalek Mongkon and has been very successful. He recently moved to Colorado to teach Muay Thai at Zingano BJJ, and apparently decided he wanted to mix things up in the ring again. 

Something Sakmongkol has going for him is he can still kick like hell. That was shown in his fight earlier this year against Contender Asia participant, James Martinez. In the fight he continuously battered Martinez with brutal left kicks on the arm. By the third round it was clear Martinez was hurt badly and after eating 7 or 8 more really hard blows the referee had seen enough and Martinez went home with a broken arm. Yodsanklai Fairtex has shown a hard kicking southpaw can have success against Cosmo.

Another thing Sak will have on his side is experience. In Muay Thai when you're 38, and your opponent is a lot younger, experience generally doesn't help the older man, but I think this time is an exception. As mentioned earlier, Sakmongkol hasn't been an active fighter lately, and that will only help him here. He's well rested and in all likelihood coming into this fight healthy, and injury free. With 250 fights and a good chunk of those being against the best fighters of the 90's in multiple weight divisions its probably fair to say Cosmo can't show him anything new. 

One of the main reasons why Sakmongkol is so popular amongst fans is his tenacity. After the first feeling out round its usually balls to the wall with him. If you hit him he isn't going anywhere, he just gets a mad look on his face and tries to kill you. He's won many fights by just staying glued to his opponent, and by the 4th or 5th round they don't bother to fight back, but just do everything they can to not get hit. 155 pounds is a much more natural fit for Sakmongkol than it is for Cosmo, who has had his best performances at 160 and up. Alexandre can sometimes be lethargic at this weight, and with Sak's in your face style it won't be good news for Cosmo if he's expecting an easy win.

And lastly, Sakmongkol is a different kind of tough. People point to the classic 5th fight against Jongsanan Fairtex, but its a fight against Perry Ubeda at the 1999 King's Cup in Thailand that really shows what Sakmongkol is all about as a fighter. Sakmongkol has had a recurring shoulder problem, and the only time I've ever seen him grimace or show any real distress in a fight was against Jomhod Kiatadisak. That fight was stopped do to a shoulder problem. It appears the exact same injury happens against Ubeda in round 2, and he tries to twist his arm and fix the problem but its clear its not helping. However with hundred's of thousands of people in attendance he fights on and remains poised. The bout continues, and often in the clinch. Sakmongkol at this point seems like he's only using his left arm as something to hold onto. At the beginning of round 3 Ubeda lands a FLUSH spinning kick right on the jaw, and Sakmongkol shakes it off, but the ref gives him an 8 count as he lets his guard down. Later in the round Sak comes back and scores an elbow knockdown with his good arm. Finally, and ironically in the 5th round the bout comes to an end after Sakmogkol throws a left kick that breaks the right arm of Ubeda, who looks like he's lost all desire to fight. Once the fight ends the pain really starts to sink in and Sakmongkol is assisted out of the ring by his corner. 

I'm not convinced Sakmongkol will win, but if he does out hustle Cosmo and takes the fight don't be surprised. Either way expect this to be one of the more memorable fights of 2011. The event can be purchased at www.gfl.tv and if you've never seen any of the fights mentioned please go check them out. You won't be disappointed. 

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A Layman's Guide to Scoring a Muay Thai Fight

I wanted to write this article after seeing the scorecards for the Saenchai vs Kevin Ross fight and also in light of the scoring on the Cosmo Alexandre vs Cyrus Washington fight which was held in the US earlier this year.

Before I get started I should make it clear that I am not a qualified judge. For a definitive guide to how a Muay Thai fight should be scored you should check out this article by Tony Myers:

Judging a Muay Thai fight part onepart two

This is only intended to be a quick and rough guide for those who (like the judges in the US...) don't understand how a Muay Thai fight should be scored.

Muay Thai is not scored in the same way as boxing, K-1 or MMA so trying to apply the same criteria to a Muay Thai fight that you would any another combat sport is a waste of time.

The first two rounds of a Muay Thai fight are always scored a draw, unless one fighter absolutely dominates or visibly hurts his opponent. The opening rounds are only intended to be used as a feeling out process and good fighters will almost always treat them as such. Rounds one and two are an opportunity to size up your opponents and to begin to demonstrate your superiority to the judges BUT will generally have no effect on the scoring of the fight.

Rounds three, four and five are the decisive rounds and the result of them will settle the outcome of the fight unless there is a stoppage. Muay Thai rounds are not scored in isolation though so, for instance, if one fighter looked stronger in rounds one and two but round three is even the judges will often give round three to the fighter who looked stronger in the opening rounds.

A fighter who is already ahead normally seems to get the benefit of the doubt in a close round which means that once a fighter has taken a lead on the scorecards he only needs to be as good as his opponent to win the fight, whereas the opponent needs to clearly demonstrate that he is better. This may seem like merely a semantic difference but it is never the less an important one.

Another way that Muay Thai differs dramatically from other combat sports is in the way that different techniques are scored. Any strike which lands cleanly scores points but straight knees and kicks to the mid section seem to score more points than any other techniques.

Read more after the break...

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