So the date,April 12th 2008. Location Singapore Indoor Stadium. It was awesome to have finally fought there. In 2007 I was supposed to be on the main card of one of the promotions there but I was filming The series so couldn't make it. Singapore Indoor Stadium has been host to many great bands and amazing sell out concerts. So to finally fight there is like every Singaporean kids dream!!
The night before we were all down at Brewerkz for the weigh-in and press conference. And some of us were in a grumpy mood having not eaten for a day over to make fight weight. I weighed in at 72.7 and I remember Zidov weighed in at 72?...Was annoyed that they wrote down on the fight that I was 73.5!?!!??!? Made me look like I was having a much bigger advantage. But after all of us weighed in...it was straight on to the water.....100plus....nacho chips...buffalo wings....beef ribs...pizza......!! We were starving!!!
There were actually 4 fights that night at the Indoor stadium and I guess just coz there was no "STORY" behind it they couldn't really put Soren vs Sean's fight into the show. Also they didn't show our introduction when we walked into the Stadium. The atmosphere was seriously AMAZING!!! The contender theme song blarring in the background and the crowd going absolutely insane is definitely a night I won't forget!
So I was in the Red Locker room. So Soren,JWP and Jabba were in the room with me. And yeah Pitu flew over to come watch the show and he decided to give the Red Corner a helping hand. Hanging out in the room and joking was great....JWP, Soren, Pitu and Jabba were my team mates and we were all very close friends. It's weird how fighting has become so NORMAL to us. I mean to alot of people it must be WEIRD that we can hangout and chat and joke before knowingly going into a ring to get hurt?? But the 4 of us fighting were all going through the same feeling before the fight....It's a weird feeling a mix of anxiety and adrenaline that just makes you start feeling lazy...?!! Soren calls the feeling "calm before the storm". But the funniest thing that happened in the locker room is when Stephan Fox came in to wish us luck and as he was walking out,Jabba goes,"Hey Stephan....Why No 100%?" ....hahahahahaha...I thought me and my friends were the only one who noticed his "100%..100%,For Thailand!!" ....hahahahaha that really cracked all of us up when Jabba said it.
So first up was Soren and Sean's fight,Unfortunately I didn't get to see the fight LIVE as I was next up and getting ready in the dressing room. But I remember one of the guys who was helping at the event gave us a run down and he was going...."Seans taking alot of knees and is running out of gas." We were all in the changing room going....."Sean out of Gas???" But I just watch the fight last night on youtube, and I gotta say....Soren was HUNGRY for a win. I was just talking to Soren before doing the blog and I said to him,"I've never seen you soo hungry for a win!! You just kept coming and pressing forward!!" And his reply....."4 straight losses can do that to you!!" haha Sean looked like he was just not used to someone pressuring him!! And getting in the clinch alot is really tiring!!! Sean did well landing some good punches and bobbing to avoid Soren's jabs,he has awesome speed in his punches. He also landed some good elbows on Soren,and Soren needed some stitches on the top of his head. But Soren just looked the dominant and hungrier fighter. Good to see my man Soren back in top form. Here are the clips. Check it out.
Soren vs Sean Pt 1 Soren vs Sean Pt 2 Soren vs Sean Pt 3 Soren vs Sean Pt 4
I remember standing behind waiting for them to announce my name and telling myself....."this is it,make or break!!" the rematch that I've been waiting for since that darn night my shoulder popped out. 2 surgeries later....months of strength and conditioning....2 weeks of hard training with my thai trainer,Bungman that I flew in to live with me to prepare me for my fight. It all came down to the next 5Rounds.
As I walked in,I gotta say the feeling of having 6000ppl cheer for you (or against you) is just very special...you feel their voices deep in your gut. You feel the adrenaline rushing through you...the hairs on your back standing...it's just so amazing!! It is like what Jabba says...."a drug" an addiction you can't explain and want it over and over and over.
I felt good going in there this time. I had awesome training with Bungman and I had new shoulders!! Though the worry of it popping out was constantly lingering in the back of my head. But I knew I had trained hard,and trained well and trained specificaly for this fight with the help of Bungman. We had a gameplan and I stuck to it. Unfortunately I couldn't have Bungman in my corner but "Matsui" and "Hanarong" who has seen me fight and cornered for me on many occasions had some good advice to give.
I remember in the early rounds of the fight I was landing loads of leg kicks,mid section and a couple of sweeps on Zidov. And after watching some of the shots again on TV it even made me go "OUCH!!" I remember thinking to myself in Round 3,"Right lets hope shoulder stays in,only 2 rounds left!!!"...Then in the 4th Round things started to pick up as Zidov pressed forward and was doing his "Crazy" thing,I remember landing a headkick and seeing him go down,but the ref didn't count him?? Was really weird.... you can actually hear the Ring announcer count 1?!?!?!?!?...haha... Soon 5th Round was on,and I knew that Zidov was gonna try to now knock me out as he was trailing on points. He started getting messy again and charging,was surprised he didn't do it from the first bell!!?
Landing the elbow was SWEET!! Watching it on the big screen and in slow mo was SWEETER!! You can see Soren in the Background going...."Owwww!!!" hahaha....I honestly do feel bad as he is still after all a friend (and soon to be a father!!!!) but this is the nature of our sport,he would have done the same to me given the very chance. There was alot of blood I remember jabbing and trying to just keep my distance and every jab I threw just more blood came out,I signalled once to the ref and he stopped it to let the Dr check. I remember seeing the Dr's cloth just go all red....!! Saw the Dr saying with,"one more cloth if it doesn't stop,I have to stop the fight."...Luckily for Zidov the bleedin stopped. I knew it was on now...and he's gonna try and knock me out coz thats the only way he'd win now. Same thing just pushed kicked,jabbed moved around let him charge kept my distance,then I remember landing the same elbow again on him and when there was finally way too much blood,the Ref jumped in and stopped the fight and I was declared the winner by TKO. Zidov later than cheekily said in his speech,"It's now 1-1.....".....and I think that has already sparked off talks of a 3rd Rematch... Well if people wanna see it then why not.
Here is a link to some of the pictures that various photographers have sent me of my fight with Zidov,some very cool shots!!
I do have to say the only thing that wasn't nice was the crowd BOOING that the fight was stopped...(or maybe it was my accidental kick to Zidov's groin) and I think that is just silly....You have to remember the Ref & Dr are there to protect the fighters. We have to fight another day as this is what we do for a living,and if the Ref and the Dr,can prevent a serious injury from happening...they will and they should!! I know Zidov wanted to carry on....Fuck,I would have carried on if my shoulder popped out another 10 times.....but its just gonna do more damage to me in the long run!?? Stephan made a speech in the ring to the crowd saying that we shouldn't boo...the boys did their best,they also shouldn't boo the Ref or Dr coz this is normal procedure for a fight if they think there is too much blood. I didn't hear the speech entirely but he then said something like,"if any of you here can do better,then step in the ring",I've heard him make similar speeches many many times all over the world at world class events,to me I didn't find it offensive......but for SOME people....it was such a big hoohaa on the local forums......
The commentators Michael Schiavello & Mark Castagnini from Fox Kickboxing were funny as...!! I've known Mark for awhile now and it was the first time meeting Mike. The two of them are by far the best in commentating,as they make it educational for viewers and they also make it bloody funny. Here's some of Michaels one liners,
"He's got more kick than a chorus!!","He's taken more hits than google", "He's taken more shots than an alcoholic", "He's got more mussels than a seafood platter", "He's taken more knocks than a front door", "He's got more combinations than a McDonalds menu!!" You can find more of Mike's lines on their myspace site,check it out.
Next up was the so called "Grudge Match" that everyone has been wanting to see since Episode 3. Between Jabba and Raffik. Unfortunately it wasn't as crazy and full of hate as people expected it to be. There was still SOME respect for each other and that is what this sport is all about. The fight was fought smartly by both of them. No wanting to make any silly mistakes and not get caught with anything stupid. I remember Jabba landing a couple of left hooks on Raffik that threw his head back abit. Raffik also in Round 4 and 5 started throwing in a few more of his sneaky spinning back elbows. I have to admit he throws them really well. The fight goes 5 rounds and once again Jabba my brother emerges victorious. In his interview he says something that I will always remember coz he said it to me in The Loft before,"Cold Mind,Hot Heart" and it's true...you need to be cool,calm and collected to be able to think under pressure.....but your heart has to be full of fire to want to win. Congrats to Jabba am glad you kept your cool and won the fight.
And the one that everyone has been waiting for since the last day of filming at the loft in 2007, all the way to April 12th 2008....and a rematch from their WBC title bout in 2005. This was gonna be one hell of an amazing fight.
We all knew Yoddi was doing it because he wanted to use the money to buy a house for them to give his family a better life. Then hearing about JWP's dad who was very ill with cancer and that he had weeks to live was very heartbreaking. Me and JWP are in contact alot and I remember chatting with him about it....and it was still at a very mild stage then,but obviously things have gotten worse since. But to make things more complicated for JWP,his wife was due to give birth to their 2nd child any time that week. So you can only imagine the things running around his mind...his dad,his wife and the biggest cash prize ever offered in Muay Thai all on the line. I really take my hats of to JWP for being such a strong person throughout the whole thing.
As the two finalist were introduced and as they walked into the stadium....the cheer for them was unbelievably loud. JWP even said to me that having fought at so many places that was prolly the loudest he's heard in a long time.
Round 1 started and things were looking good as JWP blocked Yoddi's kicks and kept the pressure on him. But in the last 30 seconds or so JWP caught hold of Yoddi's kicks and JWP was in abit of a funny angle....and next thing I know I heard this loud "SLAAAAP" and JWP was down. He was down for awhile,but he got up just in time to beat the count.....and lucky for him he was saved by the bell. Round 2 same thing..JWP knew that he had to take the fight to Yoddi and with one knockdown against him...he needed to work HARD!!...... JWP pressed forward lots more and unfortunately Yoddi caught him with another punch right on the chin that sends JWP tumbling back. Once again JWP beats the count and as determined as ever presses on.
JWP gave it everything he had in the last 3 rounds....He blocked Yoddi's kicks really well that night. He tried and tried hard and even after landing some awesome punches,Yoddi wasn't at all bothered.....JWP coming back from 2 hard knockdowns and still taking the fight to Yoddi is an impressive performance. But this night was not meant to be his......but belonged to the young and talented,Yodsaenklai. Proving to the world that he hasn't just got a left kick on him. He's got both left and right punches that opponents should fear. JWP has nothing be ashamed of and has shown the world once again why he is one of the best foreign fighters in the world...and shown to all of us that he is one hell of a tough cookie. He is a legend in this sport and will always be.
So Yodsaenklai $150 000 richer and a nice big shiny belt to hold up his jeans,congratulations!! The boys all can't wait to visit you at your new house!! =) We're gonna have a pool party!!
Once again a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who emailed me and supported me through the tough times. Coming back from 2 shoulder surgeries to win this rematch at the Indoor Stadium infront of 6000people was just amazing. Hope I've proven myself now and I hope Singapore is finally truly proud of me. It was am amazing night I'll remember forever!!
Anyways Im sad that I won't have to blog anymore about The Contender Asia,I really enjoyed doing it and having to share my inside views on the episodes and fighters. I'll still be blogging even though this is the last episode of The Contender Asia Season 1,so definetly check back regularly for more updates on me and Muay Thai in Singapore and Muay Thai news internationally.