Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 Muay Thai Authority Awards

2011 will likely go down as the "Year of Muay Thai in North America." Several ground breaking fights and events took place, further giving North American Muay Thai international recognition. With all of the action in the books for 2011 it’s time to announce the 2011 Muay Thai Authority awards. In our effort to continue to push Muay Thai in North America, we have decided to once again recognize the North American Fighter of the Year (male and female), Breakthrough Fighter of the Year, Fight of the Year, and Knockout of the Year. In addition we had decided to add two new categories, Trainer of the Year and Rookie of the Year.

The criteria for the awards are as follows: Recipients of Fighter of the Year, Breakthrough Fighter of the year, and Rookie of the Year, must be based in North America. To be eligible for Rookie of the Year, the fighter must not have had a pro fight before November 1st, 2010 (the time frame for the award is 14 months). For the Fight of the Year and Knockout of the Year, the fights needed to have taken place on North American soil (a North American fighter scoring a KO in Thailand doesn’t count).

Here are the 2011 Muay Thai Authority Award winners:

2011 Muay Thai Authority North American Male Fighter of the Year: Ky Hollenbeck

Hollenbeck was last year’s recipient of the Breakthrough Fighter of the Year award and he didn’t slow down in 2011. He started to really make waves in April of 2011 when he defeated Vuyisile Colossa in China, which earned him a WBC Muay Thai Interim World Title shot. In May at Lion Fight Promotions “Battle in the Desert 2” he defeated Gregory Choplin to claim the WBC Muay Thai Interim Middleweight World Title and successfully defended it in August at Lion Fight Promotions “Battle in the Desert 3” against Simon Chu. Sandwiched in between was a victory over Wong Foo Long in the Philippines. Hollenbeck then earned a huge upset victory over Jordan Watson at the MPL event in Padova, Italy. Despite losing a decision to Nieky Holzken in November, his 2011 record stands at 5-1 with wins over some world class fighters. It doesn’t seem things will slow down for Hollenbeck as he is already scheduled to fight John Wayne Parr in February of 2012.

2011 Muay Thai Authority North American Female Fighter of the Year: Jeri Sitzes
The North American female Muay Thai scene didn’t see as much action as we were hoping this year, but there was one lady who definitely continued to establish herself. Missouri’s Jeri Sitzes blends her excellent boxing skills with some great Muay Thai. Going 3-0 in 2011, we hope to continue to see more of Sitzes in 2012. She defeated Sally McCarthy via (T)KO in May at “Battle in the Desert 2” and followed that up with an exciting back and forth fight against Canada’s Misty Sutherland, which Sitzes won via (T)KO in August at Lion Fight Promotions “Battle in the Desert 3.” She ended the year with a win over Jessica Bartness in her home state of Missouri.

2011 Muay Thai Authority North American Breakthrough Fighter of the Year: Chaz Mulkey
Heading into 2011 Chaz Mulkey had lost his last two fights of 2010 (Remy Bonnel & Joe Schilling) and his pro record stood at 3-4. 2012 was a completely different story for Mulkey; he defeated Douglas Edwards via (T)KO at Lion Fight Promotions inaugural event in February and then bested Canada’s Ken Tran by unanimous decision at Lion Fight Promotions “Battle in the Desert 2” in May. Mulkey then headed to Thailand where we defeated German fighter Phillip Sidkrunoom via (T)KO; after returning to the U.S. he had the opportunity to re-match French fighter Remy Bonnel with the WBC Muay Thai International Middleweight Title on the line at Lion Fight Promotions “Battle in the Desert 3” in August. The bout was as close as any fight could be, with Mulkey taking home a split decision victory. Mulkey closed his year out at Lion Fight Promotions “Battle in the Desert 4” in November with a unanimous decision win against the UK’s Simon Chu in his first title defense. Mulkey’s 5-0 run in 2011 definitely put him on the map as a middleweight to be reckoned with on an international level.

2011 Muay Thai Authority North American KO of the Year: Baxter Humby
Baxter Humby stepped into the ring on September 2nd in Long Beach, CA as part of the MPL’s inaugural event. Standing across from him was former “The Contender Asia” participant, Domenik “Akuma” Zidov. It took less than two minutes for Humby to deliver a spinning heel kick to the liver that sent Zidov down for the count. The knockout was so spectacular that if was featured on ESPN’s top ten plays of the week.

2011 Muay Thai Authority North American Fight of the Year: Bryce Krause vs. Shane Oblonsky
2011 featured some big names coming over to fight in North America. Liam Harrison, Cosmo Alexandre, Sakkedao, Saenchai and others. Despite them being involved in ground breaking fights, this year's winner for Fight of the Year is a fight that was exciting from start to finish and also featured a great display of Muay Thai. At Stand Up Promotion's “Oblonsky vs. Krause” event, the night’s main event did not fail to entertain. Shane Oblonsky and Bryce Krause fought back and forth for five rounds, boosting fans out of their seats in cheer with an overwhelming show of heart from both fighters. There were momentum swings, great displays of technique, and in the end a very exciting and entertaining fight. Krause won the fight via unanimous decision, but both fighters should be proud for putting on such a great fight.

2011 Muay Thai Authority North American Trainer of the Year: Ajarn Suchart Yodkerepauprai
Ajarn Suchart teaches out of Siam No. 1 in Toronto, Canada. He has two of North America’s top fighters training under him -- Matt Embree and Simon Marcus, both have represented him well. Marcus and Embree have gone undefeated in 2011, Embree going 3-0 and Marcus 4-0 and it doesn’t seem they will be slowing down. It’s not easy to train high caliber fighters; if it was, every gym in North America would have one. Having two active fighters currently who are among the best in North America is very impressive.

2011 Muay Thai Authority North American Rookie of the Year: Ognjen Topic
Topic made his pro debut for Friday Night Fights Muay Thai in March of 2011 when he defeated Phillip Sehenuk via (T)KO. Unfortunately a very controversial decision cost him his second pro fight in May. In July, however, he bounced right back by not only landing the first elbow thrown in the state of New Jersey at The Warriors Cup XII, but also ending the fight with an elbow against Tony Manoharan. A close split decision loss to Mohammed Lamjerdine followed, though he would end the year with another (T)KO victory due to a cut caused by an elbow at The Warriors Cup XIII against Anthony Demaio. Topic is a young fighter with a vast set of skills which seem to improve every time he fights. No other new comer in 2011 showcased skills like Topic. With his ever improving skill set, Topic should be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
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