IN THE RING
Under Muay Thai rules, there is a clear demarcation between legal grappling and wrestling throws.
The MMA-style throwdown is not traditionally part of Muay Thai.
But that line in the sand that separates Muay Thai from mixed martial arts (MMA) was erased when two top non-Thai light-heavyweights Simon Marcus (Canada) and Artem Levin (Russia) fought an ugly contest in Las Vegas last Friday.
Much to the chagrin of diehard Muay Thai fans who flocked to the Hard Rock Casino, Marcus scored an overwhelming points win using MMA-style throwdowns that would never be allowed in any of the Muay Thai arenas in Thailand.
Thai fight fans objected to the illegal throwdown techniques that clearly riled Levin, who vigorously objected to being hurled on to the canvass.
After the fight, Levin protested at losing by points, which was the unanimous decision of the judges appointed by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
The event, billed as the clash of the best Muay Thai light-heavyweights, was shown live on AXS TV - a niche US television channel known for its specialist new music concerts and popular MMA live commentary programme Inside MMA.
US billionaire Mark Cuban, who provides the financial muscle for AXS TV, views Muay Thai as a showcase for stand-up fighting skills that are used to gain a winning edge in the first round of MMA.
MMA and Chinese kung fu fighting fans enjoy the unrestricted throwdown tactics that effectively turn Muay Thai grappling into a wrestling contest.
Apparently, Cuban likes the MMA's modified grappling, as Muay Thai events broadcast live on his AXS TV channel - with a MMA commentary team - help broaden the talent base and appeal of MMA, which Cuban claims is expanding rapidly.
AXS TV recently teamed up with Las Vegas-based Lion Fight Promotions to broadcast regular Muay Thai events, and the Marcus v Levin contest was primarily positioned to benefit the core focus of AXS TV's MMA profile.
Live Muay Thai telecast is used to assist the overall objective of AXS TV to move towards an all-live network with social media linking concerts to fights.
Amazingly, the success story of MMA has unfolded in little more than two decades, and AXS TV is targeting Muay Thai as a way of growing its subscriber base, made up of MMA fans who like to see exciting stand-up fighting arts contained inside the octagon cage without the limitations and entanglement of the square-ringed ropes.
In a relatively short span of time, MMA eclipsed the popularity of Muay Thai and the reign of K1 and, now with UFC on Fox worldwide, caged MMA has unprecedented eyeball appeal in households and hotels worldwide.
Fan-based surveys show that the demand for MMA will continue to grow and that specialist stand-up fighting arts like Muay Thai, Brazilian jujitsu, Japanese akido and Greek wrestling will become more and more incorporated into MMA's unified rules.
While MMA continues its winning streak, and Muay Thai seeks a way of finding its own space for global expansion, boxing is projecting a softer image with undefeated WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley (30-0), after surviving a 12th-round knockdown at the hands of Russian challenger Russian Provodnikov, asserting that his narrow points win would not have been possible without his vegan diet of tempeh and vegetable smoothies.
Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson - a vegan for the past nine months - supports Bradley's diet claims, saying that outside the ring he gets "amazing" explosions of energy, which he says are "more powerful" than when he was fighting for a living and eating rare steaks.
And, according to top-ranked UFC fighter Nick Diaz, vegans can be just as aggressive as meat-eaters. Diaz stays a vegan to get enough carbs so his body and brain can operate more efficiently.
About the author
Writer: Patrick Cusick