Lion Fight 28 Convenes a Jury of Fury

Going dump a chump in his first title defense, hash tag Ognjen Topic for why the ground game doesn’t score high in Muay Thai.  Neither does tactical predictability win a whole lot of fights, as opposed to say a surprise attack.  So it wasn’t all that much of a surprise – or at least it shouldn’t have been – for a fighter of Sergio Wielzen’s caliber to eventually wrap his timing around the champ’s episodic but essentially diversionary battle tactics.

Ground Game

Lion Fight XXVIII
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Friday, February 26, 2016

Lion Fight Lightweight Championship

Ognjen Topic (Serbia by way of USA) vs.
Sergio Wielzen (Suriname by way of the Netherlands)

Basic CombinationsSergio’s team mate, Cedric Manhoef, later told me that they’d drilled to pivot off basic jab │ hook combinations.  One caught Ognjen flush near the end of round two.  It looked to me from the press section, right after he took the hit, like Topic’s eyes were glassy.  Whether he was able to shake off the cobwebs between rounds, “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”.

Posture AdjustmentRound three saw the champ continue leaning into what turned out to be harm’s way.  With so many more options off the clinch than dump a chump – especially when there is a predictability to its coming – a slight posture adjustment set up Sergio to bring his knee into play.  Off the challenger’s transition to slashing elbows, the rupture above Ognjen’s left eye then made it inevitable for Dr. Domenic Coletta, Board Chairman of the American Association of Ring Physicians, to stop the fight.

Andrei Kulebin once told us that “the worst part of losing is the beating you take to get there”.  Take this to mean that “pride goeth before a fall”.

WinnerSergio Wielzen by TKO (Physician Stoppage) @0:50 of Round 3

Pride goeth before a fall

Coming ‘Round the MountainJo Nattawut was also set to make his first title defense at Lion Fight XXVIII.  With only two weeks to go, though, Sitsongpeenong’s late cancellation left the champ without a challenger.  It was like déjà vu for Lion Fight’s CEO Scott Kent to salvage the main event.

Nattawut had been a substitute himself, you might remember, in his Lion Fight debut on August 1, 2014.  “Smoking” Jo and Cosmo Alexandre both took that fight on one week’s notice off the cancellation of Thepnimit Sitmonchai vs. Dean James.  Recall how Cosmo tried to toggle between fuel economy and horsepower – conserving just enough energy to finish strong in each round – which worked about as well for him on the score cards as it has for VW®.

Lion Fight Super Welterweight Championship

“Smoking” Jo Nattawut (Kingdom of Thailand by way of USA)
vs. Cedric Manhoef (Suriname by way of the Netherlands)

It was déjà vu all over again as Sitsongpeenong’s substitute Cedric Manhoef saved his best for last, apparently planning to catch the victory train before it left the station.  “Smoking” Jo’s toggle, as always, was set to full throttle.  He piled up an insurmountable lead on points in the early going.

Early Lead

If Jo Nattawut had a theme song it’d be ♪ he’ll be coming ‘round the mountain ♪.  Round about round four, though, Jo’s choo choo train got crushed by a flying knee.  There was then a shift in the fight’s momentum.  It went from “all for one” to free-for-all.

Choo Choo Train

The champ kept coming ‘round the mountain, effectively staying in the chase.  Only the challenger now was putting pedal to the metal in the home stretch.  His jab │ hook combinations – which I’ve already told you about – took their toll.  “Smoking” Jo took a licking but kept on ticking.  Ask not for whom the bell tolls, Jo Nattawut.  It tolls for thee.

WinnerJo Nattawut by Unanimous Decision

Took a licking but kept on ticking

No stranger either is Justin Greskiewicz to snap chat match making, which happens to be how his own pro debut came about (Shin Do Kumaté XII on May 12, 2007) and which he’d probably rather forget about.  Rush jobs figure even less than dump a chump into Muay Thai’s scoring criteria.  Since it takes two to tango – copping a cliché – fighters can or should be judged overall by the company they keep.

The company Ky Hollenbeck has kept includes Giorgio Petrosyan, Andy Ristie and Nieky Holzken.  Jo Nattawut simply hasn’t come close to walking in these size shoes.  Compare the stride of these pack leaders with “Smoking” Jo’s actual footprint:

  • Charlie Peters earned his title shot with Jo by going 0-2 on North American soil.
  • Salah Khalifa qualified with a loss to Yodsænklai Fairtex.
  • Sean Kearney was twice beaten by Malaipet.
  • Richard Abraham made a single pro fight his unique selling proposition.

It was almost certainly no coincidence, then, that Ky Hollenbeck got dibs on Richard Benjamin after Jo Nattawut.  One’s stepping stone was the other’s rehabilitation from Glory Sports International’s “Bonfire of the Vanities”.  By the same token, Richard’s unintentional head butt or elbow – which brought a physician stoppage – exposed the vulnerability of Ky’s tendency to sail into a storm without trimming his sails.  Enter Kirian Fitzgibbons to do for Hollenbeck what Master Toddy did for Kevin Ross.

Dinner Menu

Ky Hollenbeck (Combat Sports Academy in Dublin, CA) vs.
Justin Greskiewicz (Stay Fly Muay Thai in Philadelphia, PA)
Super Welterweight Men │ 154 lbs. │ 5×3

With something like a 13 lbs. spread between their respective comfort zones, bet the stronger pit bull to maul the scrawnier one.  If Justin was going to pull off an upset – the way he did against Jeremy Carper to win the WMC National Welterweight title at the AMTL King’s Birthday Show on December 5, 2014 – it wasn’t going to happen on Kirian’s watch.  He’d clearly brought Ky into this fight with a battle plan, adroitly cornering him to execute it.

Justin went down near the end of round one, but Referee Coban Lookchaomæsaitong didn’t administer a count.  He did twice in the second round, though, before stopping it after a punch │ elbow combination put another hurt on Greskiewicz.  Although Justin seemed to have enough fight left in him to be frustrated with Coban’s call, the three knockdown rule is only a fiction in Brian Crenshaw’s imagination.  When the lion lays down with the lamb, better check what’s on the menu for dinner.

WinnerKy Hollenbeck by TKO @2:09 of Round 2

Pit Bull

Justin Greskiewicz and Chris Mauceri both came out of the NYC circuit.  Both also learned the ropes – copping two more clichés – in the school of hard knocks.  Chris took a whole fellowship in hard knocks, specializing in elbows, first from Kevin Ross and then from Sittisuk Por Sirichai.  In between, he beat a UD out of Phanuwat ‘Coke’ Chunhawat.  Since graduating to Lion Fight and taking into account the demolition job he did on Nicholas Parlanti, Chris Mauceri has done better than most Republican presidential contenders to win a contested convention.

Chris Mauceri (Stockade Martial Arts in Kingston, N.Y.)
vs. Nick Chasteen (Best Muay Thai in Phoenix, AZ)
Welterweight Men │ 147 lbs. │ 5×3

The “Golden Boy” Nick Chasteen came to break a 1-1 deadlock in his third Connecticut caucus.  Nick had been over matched with Pedro Gonzales, who knocked him out, but then under matched against Turan Hasanov, who hadn’t put two wins together since April the 29th, 2011.  Boasting only a win over Jose Palacios back in his Western comfort zone to compare with the kind of company that Chris Mauceri has kept, “all that glitters is not gold”.

All that glitters is not gold

It took Chris about a minute and a half to measure the distance and lock down his timing.  Nick was coming to him.  Having covered this scene since Rami Ibrahim was a rookie and Cyrus Washington was fighting ammie in Chicago, I must’ve imagined hearing Chris tell Nick “let me show what I learned about elbows from Kevin Ross and Sittisuk Por Sirichai.  Then he collared Nick in a bear hug and destruction rained from above.

WinnerChris Mauceri by TKO @1:55 of Round 1

Destruction rained from above

At the exact same time that Chris Mauceri made his case for national recognition at Lion Fight XVIII, Richard Abraham was getting it done at Glory 27 in Chicago, even as another promising local prospect in Kevin Van Nostrand wasn’t.  Neither was Artem Levin, who basically quit in frustration over the contrived artificiality that substitutes app for zap.  Now you know why there’s no warning label on the Chalice of Malice.

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