‘King of Lethwei’ Dispatches American Challenger
Last weekend, in Yangon, Myanmar, Dave “The Nomad” Leduc defended his Lethwei world title against crafty American fighter Cyrus Washington.
This was Leduc’s fourth title defense in eight months.
Although the fight was declared a draw under Lethwei rules, Dave clearly came out on top by applying pressure, drawing blood, and backing his opponent down.
We spoke to Leduc just one day after his latest successful title defense to get his thoughts on the fight, the outcome, and a potential scrap with Bellator welterweight Rory MacDonald.
MTG: Congrats on another dominant performance, Dave. How do you feel?
LEDUC: I feel great. Cyrus Washington was a real challenge. I did not take him lightly. I trained hard for this match because he fought against the top fighters in the world and did great against previous Lethwei champions. I knew he was dangerous, but I executed my game plan perfectly. I wanted to finish him but he was running away from me because he was hurt.
I am untouched and ready to fight right now.
MTG: In this fight, you threw a lot more roundhouse kicks compared to your fight with Sudsakorn. Why?
LEDUC: It was part of the game plan. I wanted to hurt him with his favorite technique. He is known for his kicks, not his hands, so I wanted to show him that I was not only going to dismantle him with punches, but I was also willing to go toe-to-toe [using] his favorite tools.
MTG: Why did this fight end in a draw?
LEDUC: In Lethwei, there is no point system. [This is] to ensure that the fighters always give their 100% and try to finish the fight. The only way to win is by knockout or an injury.
I thought the doctors were going to end the fight because Cyrus was badly cut. He used his time out (each fighter is given one time out during the fight to shake loose the cobwebs, take care of a cut, or recover after a knockout.)
If the two fighters are still standing at the end of 5 rounds, the fight is declared a draw.
MTG: What does it mean when you smack your elbows?
LEDUC: The lekkha moun is the traditional Lethwei gesture to challenge your opponent with honor and respect.
MTG: You’ve had a phenomenal year thus far. Who was your toughest opponent?
LEDUC: It has been a very good year for me and for Lethwei. The sport grew so much in one year, it’s insane.
All my opponents were challenging in their own way, but I would have to say my fight with Adem Yilmaz, the Australian fighter I faced in Japan earlier this year. He was resilient after all the punishment he endured.
I think what made it a tough match was the fact that I dislocated my right index finger in the second round. I had to fight with one hand. I compensated with headbutts and elbows, but I was missing my big right punch. I was happy I won the heart of the crowd and the millions of Japanese fans watching live on TV.
MTG: Who would you like to fight next?
LEDUC: After fighting against some of the best Muay Thai fighters, I would like to face an MMA fighter [under] Lethwei rules. I already challenged Rory MacDonald to a Lethwei match, after he said he wished there were headbutts in MMA. Rory has not responded.
I think MMA fighters are tough, and if we remove the ground game, we can have a solid striking war with headbutts and no scoring system, which I am sure would be appealing to many mixed martial artists. I think it’s a fight that the fans want to see.
In Lethwei there are no gloves, only wrapping. MMA fighters are more prepared to fight in that style because of the smaller gloves they use. I want to show that Myanmar Lethwei builds the toughest fighters in the world.
MTG: Where can fans get in touch with you?
Who is next for Dave Leduc? Which fighter has the skills (and balls) to try and take down the Lethwei giant?
These questions remain unanswered for now. This is actually a detriment to Dave Leduc, as he is dominating the game in a violent fashion and no one dares call him out. He proved his toughness by dismantling Adem Yilmaz while fighting with an injury; he broke Tun Tun Min’s leg and spirit; he KOed Sudsakorn into oblivion; and he had Cyrus Washington running like Usain Bolt. Frankly, he may be running out of opponents.
Leduc is a violent man who refuses to back down. Perhaps now is the the perfect time to lock him in a cage with Rory McDonald since the MMA fighter is getting impatient with Bellator.
- Pierre started his journey in martial arts after witnessing Bruce Lee on the silver screen. He began training Tae Kwon Do, earning a brown belt by his 18th birthday. He took up Muay Thai in 2000, training under Kru Nestor Marte in New York City. Pierre eventually moved to South Florida and trained at American Top Team under Christian Toleque and the late Howard Davis Jr. Pierre finally made the leap to Bangkok in 2007, having about a dozen fights. Today, Pierre Smith teaches Muay Thai and strength and conditioning out of his home gym. He also has a podcast called Catching Wreck which is available on Soundcloud, iTunes and Google Play. Pierre can be reached at www.catchingwreck.com.