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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Full Rules Muay Thai in New York, Alex Berrios vs. Ben Case headline Friday Night Fights Muay Thai January 20th, 2012
Muay Thai in the state of New York has been under fire from fans and fighters alike for not having full rules Muay Thai. Well, the longest running Muay Thai promotion in New York is about to change that. Friday Night Fights Muay Thai will feature the first full rules Muay Thai event in the state of New York on January 20th, 2012, with the evening’s main event featuring a bout between Florida's Alex Berrios and New Jersey's Ben Case.

While the state of New Jersey implemented full rules Muay Thai in July of this year, it seemed that this would be the closest full rules Muay Thai would come to the big Apple, the East Coast’s Muay Thai epicenter. We caught up with the President of Friday Night Fights Muay Thai, Justin Blair to discuss the recent development of full rules in New York and his organization being the first to do it:

"Nathan, first of all, thank you for taking the time to talk with me about this. I am really excited about our January 20th event for a number of reasons, but obviously, the greatest reason is that it will be the first ever full rules Muay Thai event in New York’s history! As the longest running Muay Thai fight series in the US, we have always appreciated the opportunity to participate in ground breaking events and moments in US Muay Thai History. Additionally, as someone that is born and raised in New York and…..as the president of a promotional organization based out of New York, we obviously have a sense of loyalty to our city and the fans and community that have supported us over the years. While New York may have not been the first to permit full rules in the region, regardless of what style of fighting we are talking about – New York is a historic place for the fight game – so, when the chance to produce the first full rules Muay Thai match presented itself, there was really no choice but to seize the opportunity with both hands and make it happen.

Bringing full rules Muay Thai events to New York is something many in our community have wanted for a long time so, producing a full rules Muay Thai event somewhere else just for the sake of doing it didn’t have the same excitement or appeal for us. The excitement for us is that we are able to produce a ground breaking event for our fans in New York City. I also have to thank WKA President, Brian Crenshaw for giving us the opportunity to produce such an event. Brian has managed to be both forward thinking and true to the sport’s tradition. He has consistently found a way to balance the needs required to allow Muay Thai to grow while maintaining the sport’s integrity. He and I have had several discussions about it [producing a full rules Muay Thai event] and it was important to the WKA that these matches be of a standard and with competitors at the highest level of skill as well as respect for the sport. There are many organizations that do things simply for the sake of doing them – but something such as this has genuine context that fans in our region can relate to. For that, I’m honored to be granted the opportunity to produce such an event"

As mentioned, the night’s main event will feature Ben Case and Alex Berrios, both have a good amount of full rules experience. Case and Berrios are young and talented fighters that will undoubtedly look to not only make the historic night memorable for the fans, but entertaining as well. Case will bring a record of 9-1 into his fight with Berrios, with his only loss coming to young dynamo Joseph Valtellini. As expected, Case is honored for the opportunity to fight on a historic event, such as the first full rules Muay Thai event in New York. Case released the following statement regarding the upcoming January event and the fight with Berrios.

"I am absolutely honored to be part of the inaugural full Thai rules event in New York State, and to do it with a talented and classy fighter like Alex Berrios is particularly special. I think the more professional Muay Thai fighters are competing under full Thai rules, the better the sport will get, because these are really the rules, so being able to do it in New York is a huge step forward. It's not to take anything away from guys who have fought in NYC under modified rules - until now it's all we've had. But the legality of elbows shouldn't be looked at as a bonus, it should be the standard. It makes the fight so much more dynamic. Allowing elbows into the arsenal isn't just side note; it fundamentally changes the choreography of the fight. In other words, it’s not like the fight is the same, just there will be some elbows in there on top of the same kicks and knees and punches; putting elbows in the mix changes the pace of the fight and the ways you can use the other weapons. It's exponential, not additional. All of my professional fights save for my last one have been full rules, and I know Berrios has had a chunk of his fights in Thailand as well, so I think the fans can look forward to a fantastic show."

Berrios has professional record of 6-2 with his only two defeats coming to highly regarded Stephen Richards and Joseph Valtellini. Like Case, he also feels it an honor to be fighting in the main event at the first full rules Muay Thai event in New York. Berrios expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of history with the following statement.

“I just want to say that I feel honored that I'm chosen to fight on this historic event for Muay Thai in America. It is a milestone and a sign of progress that one of the most important and vibrant states in the U.S. is embracing the sport. A part of me feels proud to see America catch up and hope that more North American fighters will be household names for Muay Thai enthusiasts around the world. As for my opponent, I met him at my previous two fights and he seems like a stand up guy. I'm a little embarrassed to say that I haven't done my homework on him as a fighter. And in any case, no pun intended, material on opponents are few and hard to find. So as usual, I have to focus more on myself, which is the biggest part of the fight for me.”

Full rules Muay Thai in New York, you can’t end the year with any bigger news than that as far as Muay Thai in North America goes. This is a victory not only for Friday Night Fights Muay Thai, but for the fighters and fans.

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