Inside the Thai summer of MMA love with Jon Nutt

Richard Arthur Richard Arthur

FOX Sports Asia speaks to FMD president Jon Nutt about his new MMA promotion and the motivation that drives him as a show promoter.

In a country where mixed martial arts (MMA) has always been the ugly stepchild of Muay Thai, this summer will see a boom in amateur MMA with events coming almost every weekend.

This May will see the return of the One Shin Cup followed by the first ever Ignite Warrior Championship in Bangkok. The world-famous gyms, Fairtex Training Center in Pattaya and Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket will return with their own amateur events.

And the new Trinity – Proflex Striker Series launches in Bangkok showcasing a brand new format with mixed boxing, Muay Thai and MMA rounds. We got the lowdown from the man at the nexus of it all, famed promoter and Full Metal Dojo (FMD) president, Jon Nutt.

The FMD team will be working together with Plai Jitinat of the Thailand MMA Federation and JSL Global Media to bring to life two shows this summer.

First comes the second installation of the OneShin Cup MMA Tournament on May 5.  After that on May 6, JSL Global Media and True4U are launching a televised amateur MMA league series, the Ignite Warrior Championship, with three preliminary fights and the finals at the GMM Live Arena at Central World in Bangkok on July 22.

The Full Metal Dojo crew will also be holding free amateur events in conjunction with leading gyms across Thailand and beyond.

They will kick off at the newly-expanded Fairtex Training Center in Pattaya for the Fairtex Smoker, with a mixed MMA and Muay Thai card on May 26, and visit Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket for their BBQ Beatdown on June 30. More gym events across the region are expected to follow soon. These events will tie in with FOX Sports Asia’s popular Eat Pray Fight documentary series, which see combat sports figures travelling to events across Asia.

FMD are also presenting a brand new promotion with a brand new format, at the Ambassador Hotel on Sukhumvit soi 11, Bangkok called Trinity – Proflex Striker Series.

Each event will consist of an eight-man knock-out tournament. In each fight the first round will be boxing, second round Muay Thai, and the third round MMA. The winners of each bout will proceed to the semi-finals and then final, with the winner crowned that night.

With specialists entering from all three disciplines, it will make for some exciting match-ups and strategies. Entertainment will be provided by Full Metal Dojo and their partners Magners and Moosehead, situated in the heart of Bangkok’s legendary entertainment district of Asok-Nana. The first event is coming up soon on May 12.

We asked Jon Nutt, the veteran promoter of the Southeast Asian combats sports industry, what drives him to work on so many projects at the same time.

“I have always been about helping Thailand and its athletes. Combat sports grow other combat sports, and where at one time some groups in Muay Thai did not see it this way, most are changing their tune pretty quickly now.”

“Especially those who truly want to help Thailand and its economy know that rice, rubber, and tourism are the large players here in the Kingdom. Although my father is a farmer, I am not, but I can help grow tourism in Thailand through martial arts.”

“The history of Muay Thai runs so deep, and the training opportunities are so plentiful here, that there is no reason MMA shouldn’t be as big here as it is in Brazil for example, being the home of BJJ. Where else can you watch smoker fights at storied institutions like Fairtex and Tiger Muay Thai in consecutive weekends, and see legends like Buakaw and Saenchai fight in between.”

“But I think it could be bigger. Just as the Irish have a pub in every city around the globe, Thais should have a Muay Thai gym, serving every local community’s Muay Thai, kickboxing and MMA needs,” Nutt continued.

Photo courtesy of Pugilpix

“For that to happen there has to be a functioning amateur scene though. Young fighters must be able to have the same real fight experience and possibility to earn accolades as they would in Muay Thai. Otherwise they won’t focus on their ground game enough early on, and they will have a hard time catching up.”

“This is why I have always supported other shows and organisations in Thailand. If you are creating new fans, and providing fighters with experience, then I will always help. It is when people drive fans and fighters away from the sport that I get angry,” Jon explained.

And we wouldn’t want to see Jon Nutt angry.

Despite being a father now, and having hung his gloves up for the last year or so, the former MMA fighter and Phuket Heavyweight Muay Thai Champion still keeps in shape. When asked if he was training for anything special, he gave only cryptic answers.

“I am the Underground King of Asia. And I don’t have or need a crown. But if I wanted one, I would just take it,” sounding as much like a threat as it did a joke. He certainly looked like he was full of fight. Will he close off the season with a return to combat himself? Only time will tell.

 

Ignite Warrior Championship and Oneshin Cup MMA will be broadcasted via Facebook Live in Thai with English commentary.

For more info, please click here.

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