February 17, 2017 01:00 By MANTA KLANGBOONKRONG THE NATION
IN A WEEK’S TIME, TWO OF THE TOP GUNS IN MIXED MARTIAL ARTS SQUARE OFF FOR FMD13.
ADRENALINE is apt to be pumping just as much in the crowd as in the cage-ring when Full Metal Dojo holds its first battle of mixed martial arts lightweights at Insanity Nightclub a week from tomorrow, February 25.
The FMD Lightweight Championship is the main attraction at the organiser’s 13th thunderstorm of boxing, kicking and wrestling since its inception in 2014. Called FMD13 for short, the event has as its theme “Concrete Jungle: Where Dreams are Made”.
With Thailand’s biggest MMA fight topping the bill, the showdown will have the region’s most dangerous prizefighters hammering away at each other inside the cage. The headliners are Tommy “Wild Card” Hayden from Bangkok’s Fight Lab and Will “The Kill” Chope from Khao Lak’s Combat 360X.
Veterans of the US-based Ultimate Fighting Championship series, the two Americans have already taken on some of world’s top talents and are both now based in Thailand.
Hayden, 30, the newer guy in town, is looking to make a name for himself here with a win over Chope, who, though younger, is a bona fide Asian MMA legend. Chope is 26 and, at six-foot-four, also the planet’s tallest lightweight fighter.
“We’ve been trying to make this fight happen for a long time, but injuries got in the way, so we’re very excited to finally be realising it,” says FMD co-founder Richard Arthur.
“Chope has fought Max Holloway, the current UFC Interim Lightweight Champion, and Hayden fought Dennis Bermudez, a Top 10-ranked featherweight, so these are probably the two highest-level MMA fighters ever to fight in Thailand.”
FMD has already hosted fights in every MMA weight class, from women in the tomweight (48kg) category to the big boys at heavyweight (120kg) scale. Last year it organised the Rizin World Grand Prix with silver medallist Amir Aliakbari.
Getting the top lightweights engaged in combat here warrants a special “trophy”, so the winner of the inaugural FMD Lightweight Title will be receiving a samurai sword.
“We’re still new to promotion and we want to base our titles on what we know about the fighters – who’s ‘Kill of the Hill’, who’s going off to get more prizes,” says Jon Nutt, the firm’s president. “And these two guys are at a high enough level that, if you can beat either one of them, you should be heading to the higher levels.
Mark Abbott, left, and Jon Nutt will be the emcees for FMD13.
“These titles will serve as a litmus test for some of the best talents living here in Southeast Asia. It’s a small community, and people know who we are and what we stand for. FMD succeeds because it’s an amazing party. It’s easily one of the best live shows – part stage play, part movie, but with real fights. The atmosphere is wild!”
FMD13 promises to pack in the thrills, with the under card featuring Rocky Lee from AKA Thailand in Phuket, fresh from a run in the UFC, taking on Chan Rothana from Phnom Penh’s Selapak Gym, who’s just seen some heavy One Championship action.
Add to that 10 other bouts between Thais and fellow up-and-comers from around the region. Nutt and celebrity fitness expert Mark Abbott will share emcee duties. This is, of course, nothing like a typical sports event. Far behind the kinetic action and unexpected outcomes, fans get to enjoy a real party vibe, complete with a DJ, discounts on drinks and booths selling all sorts of gear. And after the matches there’s an actual party at the same venue.
FMD has hosted showdowns in every MMA class, from atomweight to heavyweight.
“With Thailand’s muay thai heritage, we believe Thai fighters have the potential to become the best in the world in the lower weight classes in seven to 10 years,” Arthur says. “What they need to get there is training at good gyms in wrestling and Brazilian ju-jitsu to go along with their muay thai skills.”
“As for the Thai MMA market, it’s growing steadily. UFC is now shown on Channel 8 on Sundays and One Championship is doing its second live event here in March. Having all the muay thai gyms and other gyms here also helps.
“Martial arts are ingrained in Thai culture,” Arthur says, “so I think it’s just a matter of time before MMA becomes accepted as another rule-set in the age-old history of combats sports.”
FMD13, “Concrete Jungle: Where Dreams are Made”, is set for February 25 at Insanity Nightclub on Sukhumvit Soi 12. The action starts at 6pm.
Before that date you can |get a seat now for Bt1,200 from TicketMelon.com/Event/FMD13. The price at the door is Bt1,500.
FMD13 will also be streamed liveat www.Facebook.com/ FullMetalDojo.