“Take on the world one Knockout at a time”. That is the mantra of the Take-On Productions Muay Thai promotion. On Friday they took over Manhattan, hosting a significant event for Muay Thai inside New York City at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden.
Over 3,200 fight fans filled the Theatre for an historic evening of fights. This was the first ever muay thai fight card held in Madison Square Garden aka “The Mecca.” Widely known as “The world’s most famous arena,” and often spoke of in reverent tones, MSG is also considered “The Mecca” of boxing, and basketball.
President Eddie Cuello, and his two partners Mike Gasparski and Aziz Nabih have accomplished a great deal of success in less than three years. Those three gentlemen are also fighters, and have fought hard in making “Muay Thai at The Mecca” a milestone event. The biggest event ever sanctioned by the World Kickboxing and Karate Association.
The fight card was split into a nine-fight amateur undercard, and a five-fight professional main card.
The first fight on this legendary night in New York was between two women. Prairie Rugilo defeated Angie Babel by majority decision. Her teammates from the Girl Fight MMA gym could be heard screaming “girl fight, girl fight”, as she was declared the winner.
Evaristo Hernandez from Camp Undefeated displayed some impressive and flashy kicks, along with a remarkable mohawk. Rich Brattole from Weapons 9 was more fundamental and landed more strikes. After taking some big shots in the second round and looking visibly exhausted, Hernandez did not answer the bell for the third round, giving Brattole the TKO victory.
The second TKO of the evening would belong to Joey Hernandez fighting out of Mushin MMA. Hernandez ended Evolve Ohio fighter Brandon Poindexter’s evening in the second round with a vicious body shot.
Nick Vaughan from The Wat, brought the Theatre at MSG crowd to its feet, with a vicious left hook KO over Megaladon Georgia’s fighter Brian Hutchings at the 1:08 mark of the 3rd round. Vaughan would earn himself the 165lb Super Middleweight Title with the win.
Easily the fight of the night, and best back-and-forth battle would belong to Steven Hernandez from Pinpoint Muay Thai and Ariel Abreu from Camp Undefeated. These two 190-pound combatants were simply letting it fly. Some great exchanges throughout the contest, but Abreu did more damage earning himself the unanimous decision.
The rest of the undercard:
Chris Mauceri (Five Points Academy) MAJ DEC over Tim Schmeier (Sitan Gym NY)
Freddy Cheung (Sitan Gym NY) UNAM DEC over Andrillo Suarez (American Killer Bees)
Rudy Felix (Sitan Gym NY) UNAM DEC over Cornell Ward (Five Points Academy)
Delroy Mccoy (Camp Undefeated) UNAM DEC over Vinny Hui (Five Points Academy)
The main card would see the pace quicken and the action intensify. Brett Hlavacek wasted no time scoring another KO for The Wat Gym, finishing off Sommai Muay Thai’s Cris Clodfelter with some brutal kicks at the 1:40 mark of Round 1.
Eric Ruiz from Progressive Martial Arts defeated Anthony Demaio of Staten Island Muay Thai by unanimous decision, and Deshawn Robinson out of Americas Finest and Sean Hinds from Mushin MMA would battle to a majority draw.
The last two fights on the card would also end in first round knockouts:
Eastern Academy’s Brian Collette hit Performance Muay Thai’s Marcus Taylor with a barrage of strikes early in the first that sent him to the canvas. Taylor would get back up, only to fall right back down, giving Collette the KO victory. The damage must’ve also bruised Taylor’s ego, as he went after a heckling fan on the walk back to the locker room. Luckily security stopped Taylor before anything transpired.
The main event saw Ryan Madigan, a UFC veteran fighting out of Evolve Ohio; dominate Rigel Balsamico from Cool hearts Muay Thai. Balsamico had no answer for Madigan. He was swarmed from the opening bell by a significant number of strikes, and knocked down twice. The referee wisely called the stoppage after the second knockdown at the 2:21 mark of the first round, giving Madigan the KO victory.
At the conclusion of “Muay Thai at the Mecca,” MMA Diehards caught up with legendary, world famous muay thai trainer Phil Nurse. Nurse owns The Wat Gym in New York, N.Y., and he shared his thoughts on the historic event and his two victorious fighters.
Phil Nurse (L) seeing his student off into the ring.
“I think it’s a big move for Muay Thai. Nurse said. I think there’s a lot of room to make this even bigger, I’m happy for it. It’s a good venue, like anything else you have to build it. It’s a good start.
“I tell them, you don’t get paid for overtime, you get paid to get it done. I’m very, very proud of them,” Nurse said, referring to his students Hlavacek, and Vaughan. “Both good fights, first round knockout, third round knockout. I’m psyched, I’m happy.”
MMA Diehards asked if muay thai events in N.Y.C. could help the cause of getting MMA legalized in the New York state.
“I don’t know, because they fought tonight with European Rules (WKA Rules),” Nurse explained. “No elbows to the head or anything like that, I don’t think it helps anything out just yet.”
Though, Nurse does not believe the event will do much for the progression of MMA in the Big Apple, he does think it will help his favorite discipline.
“I think it can,” Nurse said, on Muay Thai being successful in the U.S. as its own sport. “There’s a lot that can happen with muay thai. (The) U.S. has a lot of other things going on. I think muay thai can really make a graph, there’s a lot of fighting going on in N.Y.C. right now”.
Lastly MMA DieHards asked how proud Nurse was to see a historic night for muay thai.
“I’m very proud, that’s what I started with, that’s what got me into the MMA world, is the muay thai,” Nurse admitted. “It’s not just a regular standup, it’s an art that I love and I’m very passionate about. To see it get to the Garden, and start making moves forward, I’m very proud of that. It’s a good move”.
Take-On definitely made a good move, bringing muay thai to the “Mecca.” They took on New York, and knocked us all out.