Note: The article below comes from the Bangkok Post and was written by Patrick Cusick.  Professional Muay Thai makes its debut in New Jersey tomorrow night!  Click on the poster for details on how to attend this historic event.

Over the past two decades, the extreme take-down cage rules of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) have become the most popular combat technique for Americans of a younger generation.

Over the past year, however, there has been a resurgence in stand-up ring rules and Muay Thai is poised to implode into the mindset of fight fans across the US.

Three major Muay Thai events will be held in Nevada, New Jersey and California over the next two months that will give the Thai martial art unprecedented traction on American soil.

History will be made when the first full rules Muay Thai contests take place in New Jersey on July 23 after being approved by the New Jersey State Athletic Control and sanctioned by the World Boxing Council.

Until then, the use of the elbow weapon and knee strikes will remain officially outlawed in New Jersey, despite the legal acceptance of the far more extreme and dangerous rules of the UFC and mixed martial arts (MMA) that are immensely popular across America.

What makes July 23 such an important date for Muay Thai _ resulting in great joy for the thousands of Thai expats living in the US who love their national sport _ is that soon in New Jersey no longer will there be the need to modifying the Thai fighting rules, as contests will be legally fought to the regulations of the WBC Muay Thai division that include the 10 point must scoring system for all five rounds, along with all the safety standards of the US state commissions.

There will be no MMA or kickboxing contests on the historic card _ just pure Muay Thai for the burgeoning throng of Muay Thai supporters living in New Jersey and neighbouring New York.

Weapons 9 Promotions have billed the breakout New Jersey event the "Warrior Cup" and are flying in Liam Harrison, the Great Britain's Leeds warrior, in a matchup against Philadelphia's fighting hero Justin Greskiewicz for the WBC international welterweight (147lbs) belt. The Robert J. Collins venue arena, located within driving distance of downtown Manhattan, will also feature an interstate rivalry championship between New Yorker Brett Hlavacek and Pittsburgh's Marcus Fisher.

While Muay Thai finally cracks the big time in New Jersey, a month later on Aug 20, one of the biggest fight events to be held in Nevada is arousing enormous interest due to the fact that Ky Hollenbeck, the hottest US talent in Muay Thai, will be defending his WBC interim world middleweight title against Britain's Simon Chu.

Hollenbeck, 24, who fights out of San Francisco, has signed a contract to fight for the UFC next year and he's especially keen to finish off 2011 undefeated in Muay Thai. Although Hollenbeck is wary of Chu he expects to win.

"I like fighting fighters who make me fight my hardest, and this seems like it's going to be one of those fights," he said.

Chu has won four British Muay Thai championships and has won against some of the best competitors throughout Europe.

"This fight means a lot to me," said Chu. "I've always wanted one of those famous green belts around my waist."

Another American Joe Schilling (10-1), the Los Angeles KO King, will fight rising star Brandon Banda (5-1) for the WBC USA light heavyweight title.

Capping off the card at the Star of the Desert Arena in Primm, NV, Thai living legend and five-time world champion Sakmongkol Sitchuchoke (228-19) will take on Brazilian Cosmo Alexandre (40-13).

Sakmongkol is coming off a third round TKO victory over James Martinez, a K-1 USA veteran. The Thai stalwart consistently beat his opponent to the punch and broke Martinez's arm with repeated round kicks aimed at the head and body.

"We are excited about producing another card loaded with some of the finest Muay Thai talent on the planet. This will be a big event for Muay Thai in America," Scott Kent, president of Lion Fight Promotions, told reporters in Las Vegas.

As big as the upcoming New Jersey and Nevada events are going to be, what will shine the light of Muay Thai brightly on America is the Stand Up Promotions championship between Thailand's fighting sensation Saenchai Sinbi and the USA international champion Kevin Ross.

The contest carries with it the first-ever diamond belt awarded by the WBC for a Muay Thai contest with winner receiving the same glory for Muay Thai as Manny Pacquiao got when he the WBC diamond belt for international boxing.

Senator Pol Gen Kovid Bhakdibhumi, WBC vice president and chairman of the WBC Muay Thai, said the name of Saenchai had spread from Thailand to around the world.

"USA is important for the expansion of Muay Thai and Saenchai deserves the honour of fighting for the first Muay Thai diamond belt in America," he said.

It's been a busy year for Saenchai. He was the star attraction at the Thai Fight event in Cannes, France, and continues to be the most popular of Thai superstars fighting regularly at Bangkok's Lumpinee stadium.

And winning the WBC diamond belt in front of a rapturous crowd at the California Commerce Casino on Aug 14 will be Saenchai's crowing glory.

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