Monday, 28 November 2011 11:29
Professional full rules Muay Thai, which made it's first sanctioned appearance in New Jersey back in July of this year at the RJ Collins Arena in Lincroft, New Jersey. The show was a big success and fans were treated to some of the best Muay Thai action to be found outside of Thailand. The pro bouts were sanctioned by the WBC, which was a historic first for the state, and the East Coast.
On Saturday, December 3rd, Warriors Cup returns with Warriors Cup XIII. Once again the show will take place at the RJ Collins Arena, and once again the card is stacked with local, national, and international talent. Promoter Chris Tran of Weapons 9 promotions, is proud to have brought pro rules Muay Thai to the Garden State, an achievement that took some doing.
"Oh man, it's been a long road but I'm so happy I was able to be a part of bringing [sanctioned, full rules Muay Thai] to Jersey," he said. "For me, I don't call myself a promoter, I'm just a huge fan of the sport and I'm just going to do whatever I can to grow it. I'm really thankful to Nick Lembo [of the NJSACB] for being supportive and helping me get this approved."
Nick Lembo is a familiar name to MMA fans. He was a key figure in the national sanctioning and regulation of MMA, and under his leadership New Jersey became the first state to hold sanctioned MMA events. Now he's doing the same for Muay Thai. Together, Chris Tran and Nick Lembo have made pro rules, sanctioned Muay Thai a reality.
"I'd been working to try to get the WBC to look at us for a couple years, and the opportunity was there when Nick approved full rules," Tran explained. "I contacted Thailand immediately. It took a few months for them to even respond and somehow I got in touch with General Kovid (Muay Thai Chairman of Thailand and WBC Vice President) in Thailand, and then ultimately to John Baker [WBC official] in California. He was supportive from the very beginning. That's also something that we're very proud of, being the only show to be sanctioned by the WBC on the East Coast."
The card for Warriors Cup XIII is stacked. It has a great mix of local, national and international talent and includes a highly anticipated title bout.
"I'm very happy with the card," Chris said. "We have a super welterweight title bout, and International Challenge title, with Justin Greskiewicz of Philadelphia going against Gabriel Varga, who's a top level contender from Canada. He's 20-1 and he's fought in the world's best shows and he's now going to be on our show. So this fight is a barnburner that I can't wait to see. We also have a super cruiserweight bout, big guys, first ever full rules in New Jersey. James Smith against a very good fighter out of Minnesota, Ryan Murray, trained by Greg Nelson, who also trained Brock Lesnar. We're looking forward to that one. And then we have a great local pro bout between Ognjen Topic, who's one of the best lightweights in this state fighting against a very, very experienced fighter, Anthony Demaio, who lived for six years in Thailand. He reportedly has a hundred fights to his name. So this is a very interesting card that I don't think anyone who loves Muay Thai should miss."
If the crowd at the previous Warriors Cup event is any indication, Muay Thai fans won't miss this show. Muay Thai is a growing sport in the United States, and it's a vital aspect of mixed martial arts. The crossover between MMA fans and Muay Thai fans is also on the upswing.
"I do see a trend going upwards for Muay Thai right now," Chris explained. "It's a slow process, but the core fan base is getting bigger. The difference between MMA and Muay Thai is that the fanbase in Muay Thai consists of nak muay, which means you are a Muay Thai fighter, or somebody who trained or is very involved in Mauy Thai. In MMA, the fanbase consists not only of the fighters and the true practitioners of MMA, but also the regular joes and janes who don't know much about the sport, but because of its current popularity they are into it. It's a water cooler conversation thing. Muay Thai has a long way to go to get there, but right now it is on an upward trend all across the United States. I hope it keeps going so that shows like ours can afford to pay the fighters what they deserve. Because it takes a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice to be able to do what they do."
Muay Thai has served many MMA fighters well, and the art is always on display in MMA matches, including in the UFC. Indeed, the most exciting UFC fighters, guys like Wanderlei Silva and the up and coming Edson Barboza, wow fans with their Muay Thai striking skills. At the Warriors Cup shows, fans are treated to fighters who train full time in Muay Thai, and their knees, elbows, kicks and punches are even more brutal and more skillfully executed than by the best MMA fighters--because this is the sole art in which they train. That's why MMA fans should not miss this upcoming Warriors Cup event, and why Chris Tran welcomes MMA fans to join the fun.
"MMA is instrumental in helping Muay Thai gain the footing and the popularity it's getting right now," he said. "Again, the fans are still uneducated about Muay Thai. I know Joe Rogan mentions it a lot in fights, and just them saying it at UFC shows has helped a lot for us to gain some popularity with the average fan."
That's the kind of buzz that Muay Thai not only needs, but has earned. Full rules Muay Thai is one of the most electrifying sports out there, and new fans are always blown away by the level of athleticism, heart and talent on display at Muay Thai fights. Don't miss out on this next event, which takes place this Saturday, December 3, 2011, live from the RJ Collins Arena in Lincroft, New Jersey.
For fans who can't make it down to the arena, the fights will be airing on GoFightLive. Ticket info and complete card after the jump. See you at the show!