Picture courtesy of BAUZEN.com
Article by DJ Miller
DJ Miller, 2014 WKA and the journey of a Muay Thai champion.
This year’s WKA tournament I was on a mission. Winning a belt was just a bonus to me. The mission was simple: BEAT EVERYBODY! I didn’t care who they were, where they trained at, how many fights they had. It was simple, defeat and destroy. Last year at the WKAs I was humiliated. I was put away in the first round in both divisions. I was horrifically under trained and not ready. It was the reason why I started to doubt my skill afterwards. Now I have a new gym, new coach and finally an actual team of skilled fighters. They all inspire me to represent the colors dominantly. At the tournament I was immediately recognized and greeted as the great fighter everybody thought I was. I knew deep down I had a bad feeling about the tournament because of what happened last year but at the same time I knew I was a completely fighter this time. I am bigger, faster, stronger and smarter. My new gym rebuilt me into a prototype machine and I was eager to see what I was made of. Upon entering the tournament I knew I would see my arch rival Adam Edgerton for a 3rd time. Let me just clarify that me and AJ agreed on a pact before the tournament that we agreed that this meet would not count as our much anticipated ‘rubber match’. The tournament was bigger than ever. I entered in Glory rules and full rules Muay Thai. I was time for me to send a message and remind the Muay Thai community just who in the hell I was. My 1st matchup was in Glory rules division. I unleashed my fury on my first opponent and KOd him in the 2nd round. The next up was full rules. My opponent gets massacred by my aggression and falls in the 3rd round by KO via knee. I look back at the brackets and saw that it was time for AJ next. The previous opponents were irrelevant. It was all about me and AJ now. We get in the ring and greet each other with a playful smirk from across the ring. The bell sounds and we get it on. AJ starts letting his hands fly like he does. I’m not backing down and return some fire myself. I’m hitting much harder and punching much faster. I instantly can tell he notices this. We tussle in the clinch a bit until I surprise him with high kick that comes down across his neck and instantly KOs him. He falls to the floor after 36 seconds. I am stunned. I don’t even celebrate. I go to the neutral corner and just take a knee while the officials check on him. I hear the crowd going crazy but I just wait patiently until AJ is able to get back on his feet. He congratulates me after he’s able to stand but one thing made me laugh. Adam is kind of out of his mind from the KO still but he says to me, “Dude, I don’t even know what the fuck you hit me with” (Laughs). We are done. I am passed the toughest guy in both of my divisions put together. But my mission is still not over, there are still asses to get got. My final fight in Glory rules division I go up against a guy that ends up teeping me in the throat in the 1st round. My esophagus is partially collapsed and I get a standing 8 count because I turn away choking. The ref counts me out because I didn’t recover myself in time. It is what it is. That fighter can take his gold and run but pray we don’t meet each other again because evidently I am the grim reaper of rematches. The last fight is up, full rules Muay Thai. My opponent is strong and game. I am so mentally and physically drained from being at that tournament since sunrise to sunset but I refused to give in. We fight a war. I prove myself once again and regain what was once mine. The North American Championship, now in the 154 class (as I was previously in the 142lbs weight class in 2012) I picked up 4 wins, 3 by way of knockout, and 1 loss for a total of 5 fights in one weekend. It was one hell of a ride.
I’d like to take today to highlight IFMA, Toyota tournaments and Lumpinee Stadium and Challenger Asia Superstar, The Fighting Pride of the Irish, The Son of Texas…
Michael “Chase” Corley.
The talented young man that put his work in overseas and abroad returned home to Houston in recent years to mentor many Coaches and Fighters in the Houston area, as well as UFC rising star Andrew “Highlight” Craig, who’s Muay Thai and boxing picked his opponent apart in his latest showing.
There is no doubt that there is one man, which we all want to see fighting in Lion Fights, that man, is the modern day James “Cinderella Man” Braddock, that man is Michael Corley.
Watch the Highlight and you’ll agree.
Constructive criticism of the Houston Muay Thai scene.
First off I’d like to take a moment to thank Michael Corley for his hard work and efforts to kick start Muay Thai in Houston again.
Secondly, I’m the type of person that likes to trouble shoot and fix problems. I’m not the complaining type, because time spent complaining is time that could have been spent identifying, analyzing and implementing a corrective action. anything I am writing here is solely from a constructive business stand point as a Quality auditor, to help my team grow and do better. Perhaps these are some good tools to help us all of us in the Houston Muay Thai community build and grow the sport of Muay Thai.
Often my fighters/teammates and myself fight out of town. this puts us as the antagonist in the story of the night. promoters often bring us in to fight their local town/state hero’s, and this is how they sell tickets. we’re the bad guys, and our opponent is the good guy. So it’s easy to forgot and get spoiled by not having to sell tickets. so I wrote the following, as a corrective action document that I am implementing with my team; anyone else is welcome and free to use it to communicate clear guidelines and expectations to0 their boxers.
I believe the two biggest things that MMA has gifted to the sport of Muay Thai, one is the addition of science methods such as strength and conditioning. second, how to brand and market yourself. So as Muay Thai fighters we need to take a page from the MMA community’s play book and learn how to grow our audiences and fan bases.
The following is a living document, that we all need to continue to improve.
Goal: The continuing success of Muay Thai and kickboxing.
Objective: To help Muay Thai Kingdom continue to be a success by facilitating revenue and fiscal growth through building team work and fighter-promoter communication.
This is a set of clear guideline as to what is expected of every participant in Muay Thai Kingdom or any combat sport. As you may or may not know, hosting combat sporting events are financially a high risk and very costly for promoters. Our goal is to continue to provide fighters with an opportunity to compete Muay Thai and Kickboxing in our own home town of Houston Texas by meeting the promoter half way, and producing a return on their investment. In order to continue to make this happen, Muay Thai Kingdom must continue to be a financial success by insuring audience pre-fight commitment, and we need your help and commitment to make that happen.
Outlined are some key hurdles, and strategy to addressing them.
- Fighter turn over
1.2 Medicals not in on time
1.3 Social media Fighters (Booking fights because it’s cool with no intent of following through)
- Ticket sales and audience turn out.
2.2 Low audience pre-fight commitment
2.3 Participant’s not understanding the need to push that commitment
Our goal is to understand these problems and overcome them through working with you as a team.
Expectations (per each participant):
- You must secure audience pre-fight commitment by selling a minimum of 30+ tickets.
1.2 If there are two members of your gym participating, then your team’s obligation is 60+ tickets; three members participating, then 90+ and so on.
- Medicals submitted in a quick and timely fashion.
- Show up to weigh-ins at weight.
- Keep your promise and follow through with the fight.
- Proof of 30+ tickets sold must be shown prior to 15 days before the event.
- Medicals must be submitted to the state or promoter before participants are placed on the card line up.
- Pulling out from the fight must be done prior to 30 days before event.
- Before you make any decisions, please consult your trainer first.
- MTK has provided you with Tickets to help secure audience pre-fight commitment.
- Your gym and family are full of people that would love to come see you compete.
- Your work place and neighborhood is full of combat sports fans
- Put up flyers at local stores and shops.
- Utilize social media and hashtags #MuayThaiKingdom to spread the word and market the event
- Easy script: Would you like to go see some fights?
6.2 Yes. Tickets are $35.00, how many would you like?
6.3 No. No problem; let me know if you change your mind.
- Family script: Would you support me by coming to MTK?
7.2 Yes. Tickets are $35.00, how many would you like?
7.3 No. No problem; let me know if you change your mind.
- Participant’s that insure audience pre-fight commitment via tickets are rewarded with insured placement and higher rankings in most combat sports organizations system. This means that the more you can sale, the more likely you are to have a shot at a Championship Title.
- Teams/Gyms that insure large audience pre-fight commitment get preference in booking status.
- Participant’s that refuse to or fail to meet basic expectations risk losing Title and rank, or worse… black-listing from future events.
It sound rather silly, and is considered a given for most fighters that have been in the scene for a long time. however, there is no marketing training manual for starting fighters. any and all ideas to help make this a success are welcome.
(TFL) Chris Jackson new up and comer, that has made a name for himself here in the Houston scene with a couple of great performances in the ring. Starting with boxing, Chris is an exciting and aggressive combination style fighter with massive power in his hands,
Chris, how long have you been training and tell us a bit about your history?
(Chris Jackson) I’ve been training going on 4yrs now. I did lots of boxing and a little MMA, but recently became addicted to Muay Thai (Laughs)
(TFL) yeah, Muay Thai will do that (laughs) is a beautiful sport, but it’s also an adrenaline rush because the sport can be so fast paced.
Fill us in on Submission Boxing Academy and Kru Izzy?
(Chris Jackson) SBA has been operating going on 7yrs; Kru Izzy branched out to start “Izzy Camp” which has been open for a little over a year now.
(TFL) I fought Brannon a long time ago; Brannon is a tough and talented kid, so you all have some killers over there. We interview Izzy a while back, when he first opened. I like Izzy a lot; he’s a good guy and a great teacher who’s been fighting and training for a long time. Congratulations to him for his success with Izzy Camp.
(Chris Jackson) When comes to Muay Thai Kru Izzy is an awesome instructor. He very traditional and passionate about Muay Thai, which makes me feel good to be training under him and representing Izzy Camp Muay Thai.
(TFL) Definitely, I love how he’s always training next to you guys. How long have you been focusing on Muay Thai?
(Chris Jackson) I’ve been doing Muay Thai for the pass 3yrs, but this last year it’s become my main focus.
(TFL) what is it about Muay Thai that you enjoy so much?
(Chris Jackson) The culture itself and the respect that’s shared and encouraged amongst teammates, instructors and opponents. On top of that it’s beautiful yet brutal. We test ourselves daily, mentally, emotionally and physically.
(TFL) Chris, tell us a bit about your fight history and how your last showing went?
(Chris Jackson) I’ve only had one Muay Thai fight, against Jeremy Melbourne from Team Tooke. He was really good, came out with some technical combos. He sort of overwhelmed me, but I kept my composer, which is a gift of mine (Laughs). I realize I had to close the distance and hit him hard, which got me the KO of the night.
(TFL) Wow, yeah Jeremy is no slob, he’s really good. I’m sure there is a potential rematch in the future, but what are you really focusing on right now and what’s your career game plan?
(Chris Jackson) Keep training and learning anywhere and from anyone I can. I’m looking to gain all the experience possible and fight as long as my body allows me.
(TFL) That is definitely a great game plan. That would be my advice to anyone seeking to have a successful career and possibly go pro in Muay Thai one day.
Is there anyone on your team that we should be on the lookout for?
(Chris Jackson) Oliver Jimenez, dude is improving daily. Angel Benavides, very hard nose guy and kicks like a mule. Benito Moreno, he’s hungry and should be a force in the future. Just to name a few.
(TFL) Yes sir, well keep our eyes peeled. Oliver did great in his last fight, what impressed me was his ability to say calm and composed after that first round. I will be on the lookout for those names on future fight cards.
Are you pretty excited about Muay Thai kingdom 2?
(Chris Jackson) Oh yea I’m hyped, even if I wasn’t on the card I would still be excited to see the match ups on this card.
(TFL) I know right, definitely a great card with a lot of talent. Anyone you would like to thank or send a shout out to?
(Chris Jackson) I would like to thank all my coaches and teammates for being behind me during this journey I’m on. Also, I would like to thank Michael Corley for bringing Muay Thai back to Houston.
(TFL) You and me both brother! Thanks for the interview Chris.