DARE Championship’s second event was witnessed by a sold out crowd at Club Insomnia in Bangkok, and saw a number of local fighters shine.
Mixed martial artists from as far afield as Brazil, South Africa, Sweden, Poland, Korea and Malaysia were featured on the seven-fight card, but it was a 22 year-old from Thailand who stole the show.
Shannon Wiratchai is a university graduate who speaks three different languages fluently yet has decided to dedicate himself to his fighting career. It is testament to how fast the sport is growing in Thailand that MMA should appeal to such a talented young man.
Not only did he win his professional debut, but he was also involved in the fight of the night with fellow Thai D.K. Panjabutra.
Both men were fighting professionally for the first time, although Wiratchai had a 5-1 amateur record. Panjabutra is a former national Judo champion who has supposedly been in more than his fair share of street fights.
The first round belonged to Wiratchai, who was able to land the more telling blows on the feet and controlled the action once the fight went to the floor with a strategy which was surprisingly methodical given how inexperienced he is.
Panjabutra looked visibly tired and Wiratchai tried to capitalize by pulling guard and going for a guillotine early in round two. It proved to be an error, as he was unable to finish the submission and ended up mounted and on the receiving end of some sharp elbows.
It appeared as if Panjabutra might be on his way to a stoppage win, but Wiratchai did an excellent job of controlling his posture and preventing him from doing too much damage before working his way out and springing to his feet.
The round ended with the younger man in the ascendancy, landing a series of unanswered strikes to his grounded opponent
Wiratchai began round three with a broad smile on his face, and the charismatic young fighter clearly had the crowd on his side by this stage. He was able to control the action again and Panjabutra showed an iron chin to absorb the incessant onslaught as Wiratchai went all-out to finish the fight.
In the dying seconds, Wiratchai landed a brutal head kick which stunned the 33 year-old brawler and sealed an emphatic decision win.
Wiratchai looked calm and composed throughout the three-round contest but admitted afterwards that he was far from relaxed before the fight.
“It was exciting, he is more than 10 years older than me and he is a Judo champion so it was a real honour to fight him. I felt nervous beforehand, I was actually sick but I spoke to my coach and my parents and they helped me a lot. I love mixed martial arts and I am proud to represent Thailand and hope Thai people will learn to love this sport as much as I do,” he said.
The main event of the evening saw Bangkok-based Malaysian Adam Kayoom go up against highly rated Korean Seok Mo Kim.
Although he has only had two professional MMA fights, Kayoom is an incredibly experienced and well rounded mixed martial artist who has won world championships in Muay Thai and has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Kayoom showed the sort of stand-up skills you would expect from a fighter who has fought in both the famous Lumpinee and Ratchadamnern stadiums in Bangkok. He landed a few sharp leg kicks but soon found himself on the receiving end of a big knee from the durable Seok.
It appeared that Kayoom was close to being stopped, but the highly-rated Malaysian was able to regain his composure and followed a sharp elbow up with a straight left hand from the southpaw stance, which dropped Seok.
With such an impressive pedigree in both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai it is difficult to pinpoint a weakness in Kayoom’s arsenal, and having knocked his Korean opponent with down with a crisp punch he wasted no time in taking his back and executing an inescapable rear naked choke.
Kayoom is the owner of the Q23 Martial Arts Academy in Bangkok and the founder of the Thailand branch of the famous American Top Team. He was relieved to claim a win in front of so many of his students.
“I’d like to thank everyone not just for coming tonight but for helping me to prepare for this fight. He was tough, Gregor Gracie couldn’t finish him but I was too relaxed at the start of the fight.
I had an injury from training and he hurt me but I fought through the pain, Dare Championship is a great event and is really setting the standard for MMA here in Thailand.
I'm also happy that Victor Cui was here to watch my fight as it is my dream to represent Malaysia at One Fighting Championship,,” he said.
In one of the most eagerly anticipated contests of the evening, two Thai-based foreign fighters put their unbeaten records on the line. Swedish fighter Wiktor Svensson was representing Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket while Krysztof Hajtalowicz from Poland travelled down from Golden Triangle MMA in Chiang Mai.
After a back-and-forth first round, both men were visibly exhausted and the fight degenerated into a gruelling war of attrition. In the end it was Hajtalowicz who prevailed, landing a solid knee and then relying on his last reserves of energy to sink in a rear naked choke submission in the second round.
It was also a good night for Nuay Legacygym, a veteran of over 200 Muay Thai fights, who showed off some impressive ground fighting skills to finish fellow Thai Robert Lek with a first round armbar attempt.
Mixed martial arts in Thailand is growing rapidly in popularity, and DARE Championship is the only promotion in the country.
The third event is scheduled to take place in Bangkok in November. For more information visit: www.darefightsports.com
Nuay Legacygym (Thailand) vs Robert Lek (Thailand)
Nuay by submission (armbar) round one
Bodin Panjabutra (Thailand) vs Rodrigo Parexedes (Brazil)
Parexedes by submission (armbar) round one
Wiktor Svensson (Sweden) vs Krysztof Hajtalowicz (Poland)
Haja by submission (rear naked choke) round two.
Alex Silva (Brazil) vs Suchat Lukamkuha (Thailand)
Silva by submission (rear naked choke) round one.
DK Panjabutra (Thailand) vs Shannon Wiratchai (Thailand)
Wiratchai by unanimous decision.
Rodrigo Ribeiro (Brazil) vs Wade Henderson (South Arica)
Ribeiro by submission (armbar) round one
Adam Kayoom (Malaysia) vs Seok Mo Kim (Korea)
Kayoom wins by submission (rear naked choke) round one