Kevin Ross (left) put on a show at Lion Fight 16 against Michael Thompson. | Photo: Bennie Palmore/Lion Fight
LAS VEGAS -- Kevin Ross used to be an alcoholic a dozen years ago. At some point in his life, he awoke from his stupor and decided to change things up. He dedicated himself to the sport of muay Thai and made a promise to himself and his team that he would someday become a world champion. On Friday night inside the Palms Casino Resort, he fulfilled that dream.
Ross was sensational over the course of five rounds against Aussie fighter Michael Thompson in the main event of the Lion Fight 16 card that was televised on AXS TV. Ross employed a perfect game plan against his opponent, peppering him with vicious leg kicks and slick counterstrikes to the head. Thompson was busy throughout the contest, but Ross was completely in the zone as he avoided virtually every one of Thompson’s attacks.
Ross dug knees to the body, painful lefts and rights to the ribs, and when the openings presented themselves, he cracked Thompson to the face. Whenever the Australian would regroup and mount an attack, Ross simply ducked and dodged to counter once again. Ross slammed Thompson to the canvas several times during clinches, and even when he had the fight in the bag, Ross never stopped slamming his foot on the accelerator.
With 20 seconds left in the fight, Ross landed a combo and then landed a flying knee square on his foe’s face. The impact wobbled Thompson, forcing him to clinch. Ross slammed him down against, and by the time they were able to get back to their feet, time had run out.
There was no question as to the victor; the three ringside judges all heavily favored the Dublin, Calif., fighter via tallies of 50-45 and 49-46 (twice). The win punctuated a thrilling night of fights, but more importantly, it awarded Ross with the Lion Fight super lightweight title.
Going into her fight with Sindy Huyer, most experts felt that Tiffany Van Soest would be at a power disadvantage. Most said the American would have to rely on her speed to have a chance of winning. As it turned out, Huyer had no answer for Van Soest’s power.
Van Soest almost ended things in the second when she rocked Huyer with a corker of a spinning back elbow, but the Italian fighter hung tough. After she climbed back to her feet, Huyer’s aggression waned and she eventually found herself in survival mode for most of the fight.
Van Soest was like a shark in the ring as she stalked her opponent relentlessly, landing everything from leg kicks, knees to the body and beautiful punches to the face.
However, the highlight of the duel was when Van Soest unfurled a wicked push kick that detonated on Huyer’s face, breaking her nose in the process. Van Soest quickly followed with a left hook to the jaw of Huyer, who had already stiffened up and turned away from her assailant. Referee Junichiro Kamijo quickly jumped in and prevented further damage, thus ending the fight just 56 seconds into the fifth round.
In other action, Thai fighter Rungravee Sasiprapa was too much for Adrian Morilla to handle, as his calm, precision attacks systematically broke down the Filipino. A steady diet of vicious leg kicks and destruction to the body wore out Morilla, who was running on vapors in the final round. In the end, Sasiprapa won a unanimous decision via tallies of 49-46, 49-45 and 48-47.
Casey Parlett was just a little bit better than Josh Shepard in their encounter, as Parlett wound up winning an extremely close split decision. Parlett’s jabs and varied attacks offset Shepard’s more straightforward attack and it won him the verdict. Parlett won with scores of 48-46, 49-45 and 46-48.
Gaston “The Dream Killer” Bolanos was a killing machine against Tyler Toner, shattering the MMA veteran’s nose and slicing open his eyebrow in the first round. Bolanos used a spectacular array of elbows to wreak havoc on Toner, whose corner stopped the fight in between rounds one and two.