It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Lion Fight events, and I often spend time promoting them personally to other “hardcore” MMA fans. I generally love everything about AXStv and their Friday Night Fights programming, but I will go well out of my way to ensure I don’t miss a Lion Fight card. I could comfortably put it in my personal top 5 promotions, of any combat type.
“Isn’t that just kickboxing? Like Glory?” No. Not at all. While I can see why some MMA fans might find kickboxing somewhat sterile, especially if you love the visceral, sweaty violence of regulated cage-fighting, ironically I still most often see #MMAfans complain about the grappling. My response invariably is “Dude! You should be watching Lion Fight!” It has everything the stand-up striking enthusiasts desire, none of the turn-offs. Slicing elbows, slamming legkicks, spinning techniques, thudding knees and devastating KOs. And without exception, I expect all of this to be front and center for your viewing pleasure this Friday.
This week I had the opportunity to ask Scott Kent, the CEO and President of Lion Fight, a few questions about his love for the sport, and the upcoming Lion Fight 29. I think you’ll see we agree on a few points. Enjoy!
Lion Fight 29 | AXS TV Fights – 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT | Foxwoods Resort & Casino (Mashantucket, CT)
Shawn @ CombatDocket: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Scott. We appreciate the opportunity to ask a few questions and educate new viewers.
It sounds like you arrived at martial arts from an early love of boxing, like many of my generation. Could you tell us a bit about how you got to Muay Thai specifically, instead of a more traditionally Western sport such as kickboxing or point karate?
Scott Kent: I grew up watching boxing on The Wide World of Sports with my father. Boxing was king then and I was always involved in sports and when I got older I took Tae Kwon Do and eventually started training kickboxing and that progressed into Muay Thai. I was fortunate enough to train with some of the great American trainers, and went to Thailand with ‘One Kick’ Nick Blomgren. It changed me. I fell in love with the people, the culture and the spirit of Muay Thai. I didn’t realize it then but that trip changed my life.
[email protected]: We’re big fans of your promotion and the fights, and we are always looking to steer watchers to the events. What do you think are the biggest hurdles to gaining loyal US viewers?
SK: I think the biggest challenges to a new promotion, especially of a new sport, are first of all having the financial wherewithal to survive the branding process of what your sport is and how it is different from the other combat sports out there. We’ve been blessed with investors that believe in what we are doing, and we feel that once people see the sport they will fall in love with it as well. Getting on AXS TV through Andrew Simon is a huge part of why Lion Fight has grown so fast and is now the major international brand in Muay Thai.
[email protected]: To someone who might be new to watching your promotion, or muay in general, what would you tell them to expect? What’s the appeal?
SK: Obviously one of our biggest challenges was to educate the American audience on what the sport is. With the explosion of the UFC it really gave us an opportunity to tap into the mainstream media and differentiate between MMA and Muay Thai. If you’re not a huge fan of wrestling or the ground game then Muay Thai offers all of the elements of stand up fighting without those elements. Throw in that Muay Thai offers the full use of elbows and knees and fighting in the clinch and you have the advantages over kickboxing. Add the long tradition, amazing history and cultural nuances and there is nothing like it.
[email protected]: Looking forward to Fridays event, you finally found a capable opponent for Nattawut in prospect Eersel, giving a solid challenge for the welterweight champion and an opportunity for Regian to show his ability. Anyone familiar with Lion Fight knows all about Smokin’ Joe. What drew you to Eersal as his opponent?
SK: As you might imagine, there isn’t a long line of people that want to fight ‘Smokin’ Jo. I’m friends with Regians’s manager and we thought this was a great match even though Regian is bigger. Both had great fights with Cosmo Alexandre and are at the top of their game.
[email protected]: Personally, I’m excited to see Pena in the ring again, hoping for more spinning brilliance like his elbow KO against Amorim. Are there any fights that you’re looking forward to personally? Any sleepers we should watch out for?
SK: How can you not love Julio Pena? What a great story and the guy had been a human highlight reel. Travis Clay is one of the rising American stars and this matchup could be the fight of the night! Top to bottom this card is stacked. Any fight could produce the devastating knockouts that Lion Fight is known for.
SK: Lion Fight 30 will be another barn burner! American superstar Ky Hollenbeck, Lion Fight world champion Sergio Wielzen and the much anticipated debut of Muay Thai sensation Antonina Schevchenko! Many more big names will be added shortly. We have six more TV dates confirmed for 2016 so it’s going to a very exciting year for Lion Fight. We are also working with our partners in the UK, Muay Thai Grand Prix, and Warrior’s Way in Australia and New Zealand… Stay tuned.
[email protected]: We most certainly will! Thanks again for your time Scott. We appreciate the insight, and are looking forward to Friday. See you then!
Be sure to tune in this Friday for Lion Fight 29 on AXS.tv Fights, 9pm ET/6pm PT, for what is certain to be a blowout event. Bring a friend! Find someone new to the promotion, give ‘um a beer and a couch, and they’ll quickly see why we have so much enthusiasm for Lion Fight events! We cant wait, and hope you’ll join us on Twitter to talk about the fights.