Jorina Baars will headline Lion Fight 20. | Photo: Bennie Palmore
Jorina Baars has accomplished plenty in muay Thai, but she is best remembered for her win over Cris “Cyborg” Justino at Lion Fight 14 a little less than a year ago.
The Lion Fight 20 headliner is poised for her women’s welterweight title defense against Chantal Ughi on Friday at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Ledyard, Conn., but she thinks the result will be the same as their first meeting in 2009. Baars was originally slated to face Casey Bohrman, but an injury derailed the bout and set up a second encounter with Ughi.
“It’s a rematch. I won’t let her kick my ass, but she’s a good fighter,” Baars told Sherdog.com. “I’ve trained a lot. I’ve done muay Thai, strength and conditioning; I’ve also swam a lot. I was sick a couple weeks ago, but now I feel better than ever. My opponent is good in the Thai clinch. She has been living there, so she learned more muay Thai techniques while she was there.”
Baars has not seen action for the Las Vegas-based promotion since March, when she defeated “Cyborg” via unanimous decision en route to claiming the Lion Fight title. The Dutch fighter is well aware what the fight did for her status in the muay Thai world, but she does not feel a rematch is warranted -- yet.
“It’s the biggest win of my career,” Baars said. “I normally fight someone one time, but with her I would like to again at some point down the line; but when we both train for a couple more years, we keep getting better and better so it’s a whole other fight.”
While the 26-year-old believes the Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder is good for the sport of muay Thai, she also feels that “Cyborg’s” strengths are best suited for the mixed martial arts cage.
“I think ‘Cyborg’ is better suited for MMA,” Baars said. “She’s a good fighter and has the power. She has won a lot of fights, but in muay Thai, you need rest. She needs to focus on one or the other.”
Baars has also done her share of MMA fighting. She has competed four times in four different promotions, racking up a record of 1-3. According to “JoJo,” this is merely a product of her taking fights however she can get them, even though MMA is not her strong suit.
“I can’t look at the future, but for right now, I’m completely focused on muay Thai,” Baars said. “I only did MMA because I didn’t have fights in muay Thai. Muay Thai is my thing; it’s my sport and I love it. Now that I have a contract with Lion Fight for three fights, it’s my only focus for now.”
With Lion Fight’s reach -- the Scott Kent-led promotion airs on AXS TV -- Baars recognizes how important it is to fight here in the United States. What she appreciates most, however, is how the promotion does not solely focus on her male counterparts.
“It’s a good and big promotion,” Baars said. “What I really like is that they promote female fighters, [as] opposed to other companies that only promote men. Lion Fight has done a lot for my name and amateur fighters. In Holland, I always headline cards. It’s so cool to headline in America because there are so many big names there. For me to be worthy of that is something that is special to me.”
If Baars had her way, she would fulfill her three-fight contract with Lion Fight in 2015, which would also allow for her to work 30-plus hours a week as a bouncer at a club in the Netherlands.
“Fighting three times in one year is good for me because I still have my other job,” Baars said. “I work 30 hours a week there, so between training and all that, I need to have rest. I work as a bouncer at a big nightclub. Men try to give me a hard time. I say, ‘Just stop if you know what’s good for you. You don’t want to see what will happen.’”
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