Photo Essay: A Striking Evening In Connecticut
Lion Fight 37 is in the books and already many are calling it the best set of fights put on in the promotion’s short history.
The penultimate scrap on Friday July 28 at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino featured a new cruiserweight title belt up for grabs, with two fighters each putting their undefeated records on the line. Then, in the main event, a champion would work to defend his title belt for a sixth time against a more-than-worthy competitor.
Neither title fight would disappoint, nor would the five bouts preceding them, each with their own unique story and intrigue.
Trevor Ragin vs. Keemaan Diop
Diop was making his pro debut, and looked extremely calm and loose. He immediately began attacking Ragin with a series of attacks that kept him guessing.
In the second round, the continued leg kicks by Diop ended up being too much, forcing Ragin out of the match with a bone bruise to the leg.
Soap Am vs. Geoffrey Then
Then used his strength to outdo Am’s technique and kept punishing Am for practically every mistake he made. Constantly mixing up his attack allowed Then to easily win every round against a very game and tough opponent in Am.
Lewis Rumsey vs. Steve Walker
Steve Walker made his pro debut against Lewis Rumsey at Lion Fight 37. His fans that drove down from Boston left happy.
After finding that his opponent would constantly drop his hands and try to deploy spinning backfists, Walker went in for the kill. The referee had to literally push him off of Rumsey to stop the fight. A first round TKO was declared for Walker.
Rumsey simply didn’t stand a chance in what was also his pro debut. It will be interesting to see Walker’s future fights against other more experienced heavyweights.
Eric Rocha vs. Alex Olave
Here’s a good lesson on how not to act in the sport of Muay Thai.
Alex Olave entered the fight much too cocky and talkative. During fighter introductions, he walked towards Eric Rocha‘s corner and stared his opponent down. Rocha didn’t need much more reason than that to put Olave down.
Put him down he did: Rocha knocked Olave to the canvas three times in just 45 seconds. Rocha simply ran all over Olave and made him pay for the indignant behavior shown.
Johncy Lindor vs. Amine Ballafrikh
Just as in the earlier Ragin/Diop affair, this one would end with a TKO due to a leg injury.
Amine Ballafrikh is unconventional in that he definitely exhibits behavior that some may consider arrogant. But the Moroccan can back that up with his talent; he would end this fight against Johncy Lindor in the third round by TKO.
Lindor eventually rendered unable to stand with what appeared to be an ankle injury from repeated hits to the area.
Chip Moraza-Pollard vs. Paul Banasiak
Outside of what was a pretty scary moment in the closing seconds, this was a very technically sound fight that worked itself like one would see in Thailand. It was a slow build in the first two rounds but by the fifth, both fighters were going with everything they had.
Chip Moraza-Pollard landed a crushing head kick with around ten seconds left in the fight that dropped Paul Banasiak. He was clearly shaken but the fight was allowed to continue without any more blows traded before the bell.
Clearly winning four of five rounds, Chip methodically ate away at Paul’s strengths and left him guessing as to where he would try to go with his shots.
Petchtanong Banchamek vs. Jo Nattawut
Nattawut was never able to figure out how to break through the crafty Banchamek’s defenses. He was able to land plenty of his trademark thunderous kicks but Petch would simply defend them or quickly respond with a kick of his own with the same power.
Banchamek looked like the busier fighter but the judges saw differently, giving Nattawut the unanimous win. A rain of boos came forth after the decision. Many saw this as a fight that, at best was a split decision that could have gone for either fighter. I give the edge to Banchamek for simply being the aggressor more often.
That concluded a night of thrilling fights showcasing champions and up-and-comers. Fans can expect the next, as-yet unannounced Lion Fight event this September.