Buakaw, Yodsanklai and the Muay Thai Premier League

Thai superstar Buakaw will take on Warren Stevelmans of South Africa tonight at the new Muay Thai Premier League: Stars and Stripes tournament being held in Long Beach, California, at a weight of 70kgs (154lb). He will be paid a supposed sum of 1.5 million baht and his WMC world title will be on the line. However, due to his K1 Max obligations Buakaw will not be joining the new ‘league’. Nevertheless, tonight?s card is set to launch the promotion with a bang, and promoters say each show will be a mixture of ‘league’ fights and ‘super’ fights.

”Stars and Stripes” is the first event of the new Muay Thai Premier League, which features five weight classes, one of which is a woman’s division featuring British fighter Julie Kitchen (fighting out of Touch Gloves and facing Martina Jindrova), and follows a round robin format where eight fighters in each division will be divided into two groups of four. The top two from each group qualify for the semi-final stage.

Buakaw Por Pramuk - Muay Thai Premier League fighter

Buakaw Por Pramuk

Unfortunately, Muay Thai superstars Saenchai Sinbi Muay Thai and Yodsanklai Fairtex, have withdrawn from the California event. Saenchai was set to take part in the league but pulled out due to his schedule, whilst the latter failed to recover from a leg injury. However, Saenchai has been replaced with another Thai superstar, albeit one less well known to those outside Thailand, Saiyok Pumpanmuang. Another ‘known’ nak muay is Dzhabar Askerov of Contender Asia fame, who was originally touted to fight Buakaw but was pulled from the card. Yodsanklai was due to fight It’s Showtime world champion, Yohan Lidon, whom he already holds a win over.

The Muay Thai Premier League released this statement concerning Saenchai:

“Due to scheduling conflicts with his many upcoming fights, Saenchai SinbiMuayThai of Thailand has been withdrawn from the League portion of the MPL. We are extremely disappointed by this news. However, fans will still be able to see Saenchai at our events as he will be scheduled for Super fights. His first appearance will be on the Second MPL event. His replacement in the League will be Saiyok Pumpanmuang.”

Saiyok is the current Lumpinee Champion at 154lbs and current Champion of Thailand at 147lbs (welterweight), with a record of 200 wins from 240 fights. (According to Wiki, but I’ve been unable to verify this elsewhere.) He is also a Ratchadamnoen stadium champion, and his last loss came in late 2007. (If anyone knows more please do get in touch!) Check out Saiyok highlights…

Muay Thai super fight Buakaw vs Yodsanklai has unfortunately never materialised, even though huge purses for both fighters have apparently been offered by promoters. According to Phillip Wong, Fairtex founder, Yodsanklai would fight Buakaw “any place any time”, but Buakaw’s camp remains tight-lipped, probably due to what he could stand to lose. Buakaw has been by far the most successful Thai to compete outside of Thailand and has now fought all over the world. Buakaw has been insulated from the top tiers and full clinch rules of ‘proper’ Muay Thai for many years now, since heading west and signing with lucrative promotion K1. He has won the K1 MAX ‘Grand Prix’ tournament twice, in 2004 and 2006 beating (then former champ) Masato and Andy Souwer respectively.

Russian Artem Levin is also set to fight on the card, and talks are in progress with another promotion group looking to set him up to fight British standout Steve Wakeling in Pattaya, Thailand. With the large Russian and British contingent visiting Pattaya every year, it would be a lucrative deal for all involved. Speaking of Britons, the fantastic nak muay Liam Harrison is in ‘pool b’ of the welterweight division, thankfully putting him on the other side of the draw to Saiyok! Jordan Watson is also part of the ‘league’ process, away from Yodsanklai but on the same side of the draw as 24-0 American Ky Hollenbeck.

Finally, Dutch legend Ernesto Hoost has been snapped up as a commentator for MPL. If you don’t know Hoost, he is a 3 time K1 World Grand Prix champion, with a kickboxing record that reads 97-21-1! He’s famed for his combination punching and punishing leg kicks, as demonstrated by this Youtube clip…

Below is the full event schedule for the Muay Thai Premier League:

September 2, 2011 – Los Angeles, California
October 8, 2011 – Venice/Padova, Italy
November 5, 2011 – Amsterdam, Netherlands
December 5, 2011 – Bangkok, Thailand
January 17, 2012 – Los Angeles, California
February 20, 2012 – Marseilles, France
April 6, 2012 – Canada (Semi-Finals)
May 25, 2012 – Los Angeles, California (Finals)

We wish everyone involved with MPL great success and congratulate them for spreading the Muay Thai name across the globe, and we cross our extremities for Liam Harrison!

Thanks to the Bangkok Post, The MPL (http://thempl.tv/main/) and HeadKickLegend.com