When you think of Las Vegas fights, the UFC and Floyd Mayweather Jr. immediately come to mind. However, the people in the know are attending the fantastic full-rules Muay Thai fights promoted by Lion Fights Promotions.
I had the pleasure to speak with CEO Scott Kent about the promotion and the recent relationship with the World Boxing Council. Lion Fights is promoting a card Saturday evening at the Hard Rock Hotel, and two WBC belts are up for grabs.
The promotion faces challenges since Las Vegas is predominantly known as a MMA or boxing city. However, Lion Fights has had significant growth since their first event. It seems like once the Vegas locals get a taste of full-rules Muay Thai, they can never get enough.
For the Lion Fights team, it is not only about excitement, but also education. With a sport as unique as Muay Thai, Kent and Co. need to ensure that the fans know exactly what they are watching.
"Part of our business plan has always been to educate people about what Muay Thai is. It's a little intimidating but it just means Thai boxing. I think that anything is better when it's live," said Kent.
"A lot of the people that attend the events are just amazed at how hard these fighters kick and punch. It's really an interactive experience. We're trying to distinguish ourselves from Mixed Martial arts."
The promotion also recently became sanctioned by the world boxing title, and future champions will be awarded those signature green belts. For Kent, this is just another step in growing not just his business but also the whole sport of Muay Thai in America.
"We were stunned and that just comes to show how far the whole Lion Fight team has come. I have the WBC, which is the same belt that Floyd Mayweather gets. We have the green belts and those WBC title fights. It brings a lot of legitimacy to what we're doing."
He continued, "We won promoter of the year award and it just wasn't just in the United States. It was an international award. We were humbled and absolutely thrilled with the opportunity and the credibility it adds to what we're doing."
The event has become a place to see the who's who of Las Vegas. Fans sit up close with some of the best UFC fighters and have the ability to discuss the fights in a fantastic live environment. This has added to the already electric atmosphere of the Lion Fights events.
Headlined by Joe Schilling facing Eddie Walker, the main event features two of the best Muay Thai fighters in the United States. Schilling is coming off the biggest win of his career against decorated Muay Thai champion Kaoklai Kaennorsing. For Walker, this is the biggest fight of his career, and a win over Schilling will all but guarantee Walker a place in international Muay Thai circles.