Lion Fight 18: Yodsanklai Destroys Khalifa, Retains Title

By Mike Sloan Sep 5, 2014
LAS VEGAS -- Yodsanklai Fairtex is regarded as one of the best muay Thai fighters in the world today and on Friday night inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, he proved it again.

Yodsanklai took his sweet time in the opening round, sizing up the taller Salah Khalifa with sinister leg kicks and the perfect distance. Khalifa seemed a bit tentative in the first round and was mostly pawing with range-finding jabs in an effort to find a rhythm.

He never found one.

Just 15 seconds into the following round, Yodsanklai landed a beautiful right-left to the jaw. The two-punch combo rocked the London-based fighter and when he lurched over, Yodsanklai was already uncorking his brutal left knee. It exploded on the chin, sending the 2012 ISKA Fighter of the Year sprawling onto his back. Khalifa struggled to his feet and while referee Steve Mazzagatti continued to count, the woozy Khalifa (35-5-1) stumbled toward the ropes.

The official time of the TKO came just 22 seconds into the second frame, allowing Fairtex to improve to a remarkable 191-71-4 with his 75th pro knockout. The stoppage allowed Yodsanklai to retain his Lion Fight middleweight title and he did so in spectacular fashion. After the fight, he said he is still always looking for ways to improve and will fight “absolutely anybody” at middleweight.

After a rather uneventful first two rounds, popular local kid Jason Andrada and late-replacement Stan Mancebo electrified the crowd with a back-and-forth war of knees, elbows and hooks until the closing final bell. Mancebo (1-2, 1 KO) was hurt badly in the fourth from a kick to the body, but Andrada couldn’t finish the Ottawa-based fighter off. With blood streaming down his face from a cut above the right eye, Andrada (6-1, 3 KOs) closed the show with a series of kicks to the body and elbows to the face of his opponent, putting an emphatic stamp on a performance that allowed him to nab the unanimous five round decision via tallies of 49-46 (twice) and 50-45.

In a welterweight showdown, Tempe’s Nick Chasteen used excellent kicks to the legs and body as well as a pesky jab to befuddle opponent Jose Palacios for five rounds, winning a lopsided unanimous decision in the process. Neither man was every badly rocked in the affair, but Chasteen was much sharper with his strikes and won 50-45 on all three official judges’ scorecards to improve to 3-1. Palacios, from Milpitas, Calif., dipped to 7-7.

Chris Culley was a step ahead of the taller Brian Del Rosario for most of their welterweight encounter and wound up winning a unanimous five-round decision. Culley, from Victorville, Calif., utilized superior low kicks to keep his foe at bay. A superb knockdown in the second period made Del Rosario fight out of a hole he couldn’t climb out. In the end, the judges all favored Culley by scores of 50-44, 49-45 and 48-46 to improve to 3-2. Del Rosario, from Van Nuys, Calif., fell to 0-2.

In a middleweight bout that was just getting going, Eddie Abasolo inadvertently unloaded a vicious right hand to the back of Damien Earley’s head in the third. After several minutes, it was determined that the Tempe, Ariz., fighter couldn’t continue, forcing Abasolo (2-1) to get disqualified by referee Mazzagatti. The fight was entertaining until that point, but the foul was a costly one, costing the Dublin, Calif., fighter a potential win. Earley improved to 4-1 with 2 KOs.


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