Triumphant 3 - American Muay Thai On The Rise

Words: Charles Little II | Images: Gabriel Torres, Ryan Gentry and Fabian Lagunas (West Coast Muay Thai)

Last month I was fortunate enough to be on hand for a momentous evening of top level Muay Thai as the sport took another huge leap forward in the USA.

Triumphant 3 took place on Feb. 25, 2018 in downtown Oakland, CA and was the very first Muay Thai fight event to be broadcast on UFC Fightpass.  With the absence of Lion Fight Promotions on AXS TV and the obscurity of WCK Full Rules Muay Thai broadcasts on Fox Sports Prime Ticket, bearing witness to muay thai fights in the US has up to now been exclusively via local area promotions and fan videos on social media.  But that’s all changed now with UFC Fightpass offering not only Triumphant Combat Sports Muay Thai Series (Oakland, CA) to their subscribers 24/7; but Friday Night Fights (New York, NY) is also a featured item on the UFC Fightpass menu.  For the first time in the USA fight fans of all sorts can witness proper muay thai from anywhere at anytime and that makes for an interesting time for the sport indeed.

Triumphant 3 held true to the origins of the sport and the level of competition that American Muay Thai has to offer by featuring a stacked card of seasoned professional fighters, hungry amateur nak muays, two top-level female bouts and two championship belts on the line.

The world of American Muay Thai was on hand at Triumphant 3 and the fighters delivered what everyone came to see.  MMA veteran Anthony Njokuani took home an inaugural Middleweight Belt and Genah Fabian (CSA, Dublin CA) defeated Charmaine Tweet by KO in the second round with a beautiful head kick rendering Tweet unable to continue.  Janet Todd and Yumiko Kawano met in a return visit that promised to be a score-settler after Kawano defeated Todd in a competitive close fight last year.  This also being the professional debut fight for each of them added that much more to the gravity of this matchup.  Todd and Kawano went at it round after round, each matching one another’s technique, aggressiveness and defense.  Janet’s teep kick and right cross were stand out on the night but Kawano’s elbow attack and consistent forward pressure ultimately resulted in a split decision victory for Kawano.

One of my favorite fighters to track and witness is the explosive and determined Joe Gogo.

They call him the Iron Assassin, or “Iron Joe Gogo” and as a lifelong fan of Iron Mike Tyson himself, the moniker is appropriately fitting.  I was stoked to see Gogo in the ring again and especially at this event with such a high profile.  I wasn’t however familiar with his opponent Eric Luna but after this fight I will never forget his name.  Folks around the ring talked Luna up and I got the gas face a few times for not knowing anything about him. “You’re in for a treat” I was told and yeah, witnessing Luna’s muay thai against the onslaught brought on by Gogo was memorable to say the least.  Luna managed his distance consistently and kept Gogo at bay and out of striking range with an effective long guard, stiff arm defense, stepping off-line and varying up his strikes between levels and targets.  Do yourself a favor and go see the fight here as it’s as interesting to analyze as it is entertaining to watch.  Eric Luna edged out Joe Gogo in a victory by split decision.  The two men left it all in the ring and left the crowd on their feet cheering with a display of push ups after the final bell and a “man-kiss” which can only be earned after going to war which is exactly what Luna and Gogo accomplished.

Triumphant 3 “Fight of the Night” accolade was fittingly awarded to the unforgettable contest between Nick “The Goldenboy” Chasteen and Asa Tenpow; which to be honest, was the particular fight that let me know it was time to buy a plane ticket to Oakland.

If  you’re not already in the know, Nick Chasteen is without a doubt one of my favorite fighters and one whom I’ve been after to guest on the Teep This Podcast for a good long while now.  Asa Tenpow spoke to me at length on the podcast a while back and the opportunity to see them both in the flesh and in the ring was awe-inspiring and basically, all kinds of amazing.  All of the words in the world written here cannot do justice to the focus and intensity that Chasteen brought with him into the ring.  It was an exciting juxtaposition to Tenpow’s almost playful and kind of taunting demeanor.  Chasteen stared down the barrel at Tenpow, while Asa looked up slightly at Chasteen with a bit of a smile as to say “Okay then, yeah let’s dance a little here”.  So they got em up and got it on like nobody’s business.  Chasteen was visibly larger than Tenpow and maintained an aggressive attack thru the duration of the fight.  Asa Tenpow leaned into his lifelong martial arts training and countered Chasteen’s attacks followed by illusive strikes of his own.  Angles and elbows were among the inventory of weapons and tactics Tenpow employed along with a sharp right hand that found it’s target enough earn to Tenpow the W over Chasteen.  The two men shook the building with their performances and Tenpow left the audience with an inspiring post fight monologue worthy of repeat mention.

Watch the fight here  on Triumphant Combat Sports’ YouTube channel or stream these fights 24/7 via UFC Fightpass


Travis Clay - Podcast Episode 8

In this, the second podcast episode of 2018, I caught up with one of my long-time favorite American Nak Muays Travis Clay from Sitan Gym (Arizona).  I’ve been tracking this quiet killer since witnessing him defeat UFC veteran Jared Papazian at Lion Fight 27 back in January of 2016.

Duration: 52 Minutes

Travis sat down with me to chat about all things Muay Thai fresh from weighing-in for his contest the very following night (Friday, March 02) with Ognjen Topic for Friday Night Fights (New York)

…which is slated to be the first full rules muay thai fight in America to be streamed live over the internet.  It’s a glorious time for Muay Thai in the states and Travis and I discussed some of his past fights in particular detail.  Including his pro debut against UFC veteran Jared Papazian at Lion Fight 26; his stunning fight with Julio “The Don” Peña and his epic WBC title fight last year with Joe Gogo in San Diego for Dennis Warner’s WCK Full Rules Muay Thai promotion. Travis went deep into his muay thai technique, he let us inside his head before during and after the aforementioned fights as well as discussed the nuanced differences between “Muay Thai” and “Kickboxing” and where Muay Thai may seemingly be headed in the USA over the next few years.  Sit back and take in the interview and enjoy. I interviewed and cut this podcast from my office and Travis spoke to me from his hotel room in New York before turning in to rest up for his fight the very next day.  Thanks for tuning in to the podcast.

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Sergio Wielzen - Podcast Episode 7

Welcome to the first podcast of 2018 with a truly rare opportunity to hear from a true veteran of Muay Thai and kickboxing from beyond our borders here in the good ‘ole US of A!

Duration: 32 Minutes

I’m excited beyond words to start the new year with this podcast episode as my guest today was actually the inspiration for the very first Teep This Podcast episode ever! Yes, Sergio Wielzen is one of my favorite Muay Thai fighters (my goodness…who’s NOT one of my favorite Muay Thai fighters???) and it was an image of Sergio delivering a teep to the face of Arthur Meyer at Lion Fight 30 that spawned the first episode with my first guest, Charlie Clark, the photographer who shot that image pictured here below.

Sergio ‘Kleintje’ Wielzen (born November 1, 1987 in Suriname) lives in Amsterdam and fights out of Sityodtong Muay Thai.

Arthur Meyer defends the teep from current Lion Fight Lightweight Champion Sergio Wielzen (The Netherlands) | photo © Tengu Photography

America is a really big place!  We’ve got lots of space, lots of people and lots of everything and that includes sports!  Lots of sports to watch and keep up with, which can be difficult in a bustling society like ours (please don’t get me started…).  When you fall in love with a sport like Muay Thai and the rest of the country is talking about football and basketball, you have to go digging to find your #8Limbs fix.  But this is where television comes in and Lion Fight Promotions.  Without promoters like Dennis Warner’s WCK Full Rules Muay Thai and Lion Fight Promotions I would surely have a much thinner list of favorite Muay Thai fighters.  It was AXS.TV broadcasting Lion Fight Muay Thai contests straight into my living room that put superstars like Sergio Wielzen on my radar.

I was on the edge of my seat waiting to watch Sergio defend his Lion Fight Lightweight belt against “Mr. Lightning” Lerdsila (Thailand) and to my dismay…no Sergio Wielzen!?!?

It wasn’t long before I finally addressed this mystery with the man himself and asked Sergio just what was the story behind his Lion Fight 36 no show.  Sergio breaks down the behind the scenes of that situation, while giving us privileged information that only someone in his position could share.  We talk about Lion Fight Promotions, some of his early fighting days on other European promotions and just how American Muay Thai might appear to those looking on outside of our borders here.  We talk training, gyms, coming back to the USA and about what the future may hold for Sergio and for Muay Thai in America.  Hopefully that title defense is still something to look forward to; but for my money, any excuse that gets Sergio Wielzen back in his boxing gloves and back on US soil to fight in them is a damn good excuse.

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WCK Cali 23: The Mega Show

Muaythai is truly a special sport surrounded by a community of committed athletes, artisans and advocates.  Last night that community converged at the Los Angeles Marriott in Burbank, CA courtesy of Dennis Warner’s WCK Full Rules Muay Thai promotion and Cali Muay Thai Series for an invigorating night of amateur and professional muay thai bouts loaded with style, heart, a little blood and plenty of KOs.  Thank you to all of the fighters who left it all in the ring, the coaches, trainers, doctors, paramedics, ring officials, judges, gyms, training partners, families, friends and fight fans who made Cali 23: The Mega Show an unforgettable night of Muaythai.

The First Bout of the Night

I am a huge fan of both the gyms who represented the night’s initial fighters.  Kim Bui of Muay Thai America Gym won a Unanimous Decision over Natthanicha “Sunny” Kudsanoi of Muay Thai School USA after three exciting rounds.  It was an honor to witness as both fighters produced their fare share of Ooohs and Ooooheeeehs from the packed house.  In this image Kru Dan Mayid gives his fighter Sunny Kudsanoi all that he has as he does day in and day out on either side of the ropes.  I’m always enamored by that which transpires between trainer and fighter during the contest.  It’s undoubtedly an exchange that my camera is always blessed to find.

A Night Packed With KOs

Patrick Guzman of Primal MMA won over Chris Guerra in a stunning first round KKO by shin kick to the head.  The Primal MMA family came out in massive support and albeit the celebration for Patrick’s victory was intense, so too was the concern for Chris Guerra’s well being as paramedics carried him out secured to a stretcher.  We were all happy to soon learn that Guerra recovered fully.

Other KOs included another stunning KKO by ring veteran Adam Rothweiler over a game and aggressive Yumi Horuichi from Japan (Rnd 2); Brandol Mendoza (Sityodtong LA) over Raj Patel (Rnd 3); Niko Ruiz over Ghiath Daker (Rnd 2), Christopher Bonilla over Oscar Moller (Rnd 1).  The Oscar Moller KO was interesting to watch as I’ve witnessed Moller’s previous fights and he’s a fierce combatant with excellent technique and heart.  Bonilla seemingly took advantage of Moller’s low hands and it cost Moller the fight early on.  I for one will be looking to learn more about that one especially from Moller’s side if he’s ever down to share any of the experience in an interview.

Brandol Mendoza and Raj Patel went to war from the first bell.  Everyone was on their feet during that entire contest.  A KO was eminent with the pace and ferocity at which that fight progressed.  Mad respect to both these warriors for their excellent Muaythai and intensity in the ring.  It was truly an honor to witness.

Another one of my favorite fighters April Vergara (Boxing Works, Torrance CA) had her hands full with Ashley Thiner.  This was my first time learning of Thiner but her and April went at it seriously as well.  In this image Boxing Works head coach Bryan Popejoy leads the instruction for Vergara between rounds.  Congrats to April Vergara and the Boxing Works family on her win by Split Decision and mad respect to both these fighters for an unforgettable performance.

It's Not Boxing or MMA - This Is Muay Thai

Since my introduction to Muaythai in 2015, I (among many others) have been a devoted fan of Brian “Bad Boy” Del Rosario (Saekson Muay Thai).  I first saw his opponent Antonio Arango when he fought earlier this year at WCK Ultimate Conquest card in San Diego.  I knew this one was gonna be “a cracker”; and boy was it ever.  These two went for broke but after 5 rounds it was Del Rosario over Arango by Unanimous Decision.

Sovenkasa Som aka: The Prince of Cambodia (Long Beach Khmer Kickboxing & Team Victory Muay Thai) is one of the slickest practitioners of the Art of Eight Limbs you’ll find and has been making a name for himself as well as making his debut recently as a pro.  What I enjoyed the most from Som in this fight against an aggressive and game James Acosta (Systems Training Center) was Som’s composure.  This fight was Acosta’s professional debut so he showed up throwing with bad intentions and connected effectively on Som.  It just wasn’t enough as Som’s movement, positioning, defense and arsenal of strikes won whom some like to call “Baby Buakaw” the W by Majority Decision.

My man Travis Garlits (Muay Thai School USA) ended up in a Split Draw with the young prodigy Gianna Carlo Di Chiara Vasquez.  Gianna was familiar to me when I saw him moving around the ring but I still can’t actually place where I’ve seen him before.  Perhaps I caught him fighting MMA on another occasion?  But, nonetheless, this kid showed up to fight; and if you know anything at all then you know that the D.T.S. behind Travis Garlits’ name stands for Down To Scrap – and scrap they did!  They kept it moving, got a little nasty with it and kept the room on their feet for four non-stop rounds.  Garlits seemed to be a bit in his head and rightfully so as his better half Ms. Ana Flores stood close by as pregnant as she could ever be!  Both Garlits and Som are expecting daddies and there’s a whole world of adoring fans who can’t wait to help them welcome their gifts into this dimension.  A Split Draw.  I mean, can a fight be scored any closer than that?  Great fight boys!

The Stars Were Out Tonight

Muaythai’s best showed up to The Mega Show on both sides of the ropes.  Fight fans were treated to a headline match up between Damien Earley and Josh “El Gato” Aragon (Sityodtong LA).  Nick “The Golden Boy” Chasteen was in his brother’s corner as expected and it’s always great to see my favorite fighters in the house like Chasteen! World Champion fighters were also spotted around including Artem “The Russian Experiment” Sheroshkin, Chidi Njokuani and Chuck Liddell; as well as West Coast Muay Thai founder Galen Okazaki, illustrator and apparel designer Jack Jittsu (Satrawoot); legendary boxing preservationist and fight photographer Marty Rockatansky; and living legend Kru Saekson Janjira.  Mad respect to one and all.

A mad thanks to Richard De La Cruz for his tireless efforts behind the scenes at WCK Full Rules Muay Thai; and The Voice In The Ring Chris Gregory for leading us all through each and every memorable WCK fight night.

Enjoy the full collection of high resolution photographs from this fight and other fights in the Photographs section of this website.


USA Against The World - Podcast Episode 6

Janet Todd performs the traditional WaiKru before representing the USA at the 2017 IFMA World Championships (Belarus, Minsk) photo taken by Lord K2 for IFMA

This month’s podcast is packed with muay thai fight news, reviews of recent WCK Cali Muay Thai Series fights; and conversations with two fighters who have represented the USA at the IFMA world championships the last two years in a row. Muay Thai debuts at the World Games in Poland in July and the USMF is changing the game here at home in order to curate the best fighters from the USA to compete against international opponents and place American Muay Thai among the best in the world rankings.

Episode Duration: 1:18:20

Episode Part One

Duration 40:44

In the first half of the episode I spoke with pro fighter, gym owner and youth muay thai trainer Asa Tenpow (Florida Kickboxing Academy – West Palm Beach, FL). Asa shared his martial arts life journey with me from studying taekwondoe and kung fu from as early as the age of 5; to first finding Muay Thai training with Kru Alan Bowonthamachakr.  Although Asa is a professional fighter he still makes it a priority to compete in international muay thai tournaments.  He’s represented the USA two years in a row at the IFMA World Championships and he makes teaching muay thai to young children one of highest priorities.  Okay, you’re still not sold?  He also trains and corners young aspiring amateur fighters on their own journey seeking the best within themselves through the sport of Muay Thai.  Take a gander at the series of images below to get a peek inside the world of a world class martial artist, a world class athlete and world class individual.

Asa Tenpow is a 27 year old, professional muay thai fighter living in West Palm Beach, FL.

I first became aware of Asa Tenpow after witnessing his unforgettable pro debut at Lion Fight 28 against Turan Hasinov.

The amazement just continued with his second Lion Fight appearance against Bryce Lawrence. Asa’s fight was technical, calm and controlled and I found myself quietly hoping that Bryce Lawrence would just take a knee before suffering any irreparable damage.  But Asa Tenpow is as much a gentleman as he is a warrior and I picked up on the notion that Tenpow was placing his shots to avoid seriously injuring Lawrence; whom come to find out, is also somewhat of a friend.  Speaking of friends, it’s not long when you’re doing what you love before you run into someone else that loves doing it about as much as you do.  That seems to be the vibe between our USMF Team USA Muay Thai athletes and especially with Emilio Pineda and Asa Tenpow; pictured below during their recent trip to the 2017 IFMA World Championships in Belarus, Minsk.  Thanks a ton to photographer Igdalia Medina for sharing her beautiful Lion Fight images for display here at

Episode Part Two

Begins at: 41:49

In the second half of the episode I sat down with amateur muay thai fighter Janet Todd from Hermosa Beach, CA. Janet trains out of Boxing Works gym in Torrence, CA under coach Bryan Popejoy.  I’ve experienced nothing but praise and respect when coach Popejoy’s name enters the conversation and after witnessing the connection that he and Janet share, seeing the level of devotion he has for the sport and his fighters, it’s no wonder Janet is winning everywhere she decides to lace up her gloves these days.

Janet will do anything to further the sport of muay thai and we got way into topics as we spoke.  We talked about her home life and what it’s like to be married to your partner as well as to your passion.  Janet’s husband is her biggest fan and she has no problem giving credit where it’s due.

Janet Todd is an amateur muay thai fighter from Hermosa Beach, CA.
photo by  Jeff Dojillo for USMF

Janet shared her experiences competing abroad over the past few years at the coveted IFMA muay thai championship tournaments and took us right into this year’s recent trip to Belarus for the 2017 installment from which Janet came home with a Bronze medal.  She expressed her pride for her accomplishment but like any A-type-perfectionist she’s not yet satisfied with a Bronze medal and intends to return to international competition immediately in pursuit of big chunk of Gold tied to a fancy red white and blue ribbon.

After a loss in her final fight in Belarus, Janet Todd needed to erase the sting and did so by winning the Defiant WBC Tournament immediately following the IFMA World Championships.

Janet Todd wins her division at the Defiant WBC Tournament in Tacoma, WA (May 2017)

Janet is off to the World Games in Poland this summer for that very reason — the pursuit of a Gold Medal and the right to tell her reflection: “Hey you, you’re a world champion muay thai fighter!”  The USMF along with her sponsors West Coast Muay Thai and In Fight Style are right behind her giving her all the support they can gather.  TEEP THIS is a fan as well and I’ll do all I can to help Janet realize her dreams as this sport continues to help me identify and realize my own.

Take a look at a few of the images she shared  from her journey to Belarus and back which resulted in a bronze medal and custom shiny green belt that her hubby will have to make room to display somewhere in their home.

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You Can Get With This Or You Can Get With That - Podcast Episode 5

Above image photographed by Erica Fortes at The Submission Factory (Los Angeles).

This month in juxtaposing MMA and Muay Thai in the states,  I speak with a fight promoter and a group of combat sports practitioners in my first ever group discussion.

Podcast total duration: 1:07:25

Episode Part One

In the first half of this episode I connected with the man behind Defiant Gym and Defiant Promotions, Daniel Gutierrez.

I’d been chasing Daniel Gutierrez around since I first shot a Defiant fight show last year at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City, CA.  I hadn’t actually met Daniel in the flesh when we conducted the interview for this podcast but I was lucky enough to run into him at the WCK Cali 20 fight event here in LA on April 29, 2017.  Gutierrez is a total character and as a former promoter myself I can tell that he’s the real deal holyfield when it comes to what sort of person you must be to be a successful promoter.  No that’s not a loaded comment or some special code message, just my opinion and as such you can take it or leave it. 🙂

Daniel and I get into the differences between the two worlds, the specifics around organizing fights, dealing with CSAC, match-making, amateurs versus pro fighters and what the fight game looks like from his perspective.  Gutierrez also provides an in-depth look into his massive three-day WBC-sanctioned muay thai tournament to take place in Tacoma, Washington at the end of this month.  The WBC even crafted his tourny a custom green belt!  So check out the conversation and get on over to the Defiant website and sign up to compete in this very interesting tournament.

Daniel Gutierrez is a former Muay Thai fighter, gym owner and fight promoter who organizes MMA fights in the cage and muay thai fights in the ring.

Episode Part Two

In the second half of the episode I sat down with The Shack System head coach Phillip Jesse and a group of combat sports athletes and enthusiasts in the welcoming atmosphere of The Submission Factory gym in Los Angeles.

The Submission Factory played host to an Iron Eagle striking seminar that included one of my favorite American Nak Muays Nick “The Golden Boy” Chasteen.  I was delighted when Chasteen and Marna from Iron Eagle invited me out to cover the seminar, but little did I know that the visit would ultimately give way to a round table discussion on none other than this month’s podcast topic “MMA versus Muay Thai in America”.

The Shack System students “Cricket”, Jesse “The Mantis” Velasquez and Albert Fuentes were eager to share their thoughts and opinions on the topic as well as their individual findings along their respective martial arts training paths.  We were blessed to have a female voice join in the conversation when photographer, actor and muay thai student Erica Fortes joined the conversation to share her views and findings from a woman’s perspective.  Erica echoed one of my own initial sentiments regarding the culture around MMA being more male-dominant and chauvinistic than what I had experienced in muay thai circles at that time.  With that said, we all agree that women are a dominant force across all combat sports and the fact that they are “women” has no bearing on how exciting, technical and effective their fights are in either the MMA cage or the muay thai ring.  The superstar female athletes shine just as brightly as any male counterpart.  From Ronda Rousey and Tiffany Van Soest to Coner McGregor and Anderson Silva, combat cares not about race, sex, or any other aspect not relevant to the act of combat.  Can you fight and are you exciting inside and outside of the ring or cage?  If so, then combat sports will love you and so will the millions of fans who love combat sports.

Phillip Jesse aka: “Rusty Shackelford” is the brain and the heart behind The Shack System training center in Azuza, California.

Submission Factory training area. photograph by Erica Fortes (@ericafortes007)
(L-R) Charles Little of Teep This and Coach Rusty of The Shack System. Photograph by Erica Fortes (@ericafortes007)

Catch up with Coach Rusty and his students at The Shack System out in Azuza CA.  After meeting and connecting with these open-hearted combat sports artisans I am confident that a day of training with them is bound to yield plenty of sweat, lots of strikes and takedowns and even more laughter!  Follow Erica Fortes and her creative offerings and if you’re looking to get down where she trains, it’s at none other than one of THE best gyms in all the land Muay Thai Gym America with the incomparable coach David Huey and Kru Santi Sakkomkai. Live well, laugh often, love much and train hard.  Sawadee krap.

Subscribe to the Teep This Podcast via: iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play (Android). Don’t forget to give the podcast a review and share share share! For questions, suggestions or requests send an email to:


No Excuses - Podcast Episode 4

Christian Hernandez defending an aggressive Lance Dixon at WCK Cali 19: Bring The Heat | Feb. 2017

My sincerest apologies fight fans for being late with this months installment of the podcast; hence this month’s title: NO EXCUSES!

Episode Part One

Duration 1:08:04

In the first half of the podcast I speak with amateur muay thai fighter Lance Dixon about his journey to an impressive 14-0 record and his ambitions of going pro.  I had my first opportunity to witness Lance in the ring this past February at WCK’s CALI 19: Bring The Heat; and I captured some incredible images from that fight that you are free to enjoy and share at will.  Lance Dixon is a muay thai fighter with an unblemished record of 14 wins and zero losses and currently holds three amateur titles in the welterweight division.  Lance lives in Venice, California and trains and fights out of Robot Fight & Fitness under coach David Huerta.

Between the time I interviewed Lance and released this podcast episode I was finally able to meet and spar with Lance.  I got my bell rung of course but enjoyed every minute of it.

Episode Part Two

In the second half of the podcast I go deep with muay thai trainer, fitness coach, gym owner and fight promoter Jamie Bradley of KruFit and Midwest Muay Thai.  I first saw Jamie Bradley cornering Yeison “Yayyoo” Berdugo at Lion Fight 24 last year.  I thought it unique to see a woman cornering a fighter at that level so I tracked her down to get her story; and she has an interesting story to say the least. Jamie Bradley is a muay thai instructor, gym owner and fight promoter located in Indianapolis, Indiana.  She manages multiple fight brands including  Midwest Muay Thai,  Midwest Striking Series, Sparta Triumph Muay Thai and trains both amateur and professional fighters.

Muay Thai news, recommendations and other notable mentions in this podcast episode include:

Muay Thai’s recent recognition as a provisional Olympic sport and our first olympic muay thai team.  Visit the USMF website, facebook page and follow the USMF on Instagram for more.  Also, here’s an informative article from the NY Times on the topic as well.  Natalie Morgan won her first fight in the Muay Thai Angels Tournament in Bangkok with a highlight reel reverse elbow.  Follow the tournament here and check out VICE’s write up on the tournament on their FIGHTLAND blog.  Lion Fight 36 airs live on AXS TV and I’m stoked to see Paul “The Reaper” Benasiak in a full fight…finally!!! Here are all the links for the April 29 fights mentioned in this podcast episode. WCK Full Rules Muay Thai presents: Cali 20: Beast Mode | CXF 7: Locked and Loaded | Farang Fight League & Midwest Muay Thai presents: Full Rules Muay Thai at the SportZone (Indianapolis, IN). Kru Phil Nurse and Saechnai at The Wat (NYC) | The Hurt Business (MMA Documentary) | Yakkao Boxing Tour | Sergio Wielzen | Lerdsila | Eddie Abasolo | PJ Sweda | Brett Hlavacek | Selina Flores | Ariana Gomez | Caleb Cisneros | Evan Boulton | Lorenzo Orozco Jr | April Vergara | Jeannie Nguyen | Terrion Ware | Jared Papazian | Chase Gibson | Mike Jasper | Robot Fight & Fitness | Team Victory Muay Thai | The Thai Boxing Institute | Muay Thai America Gym | Sparta Triumph Muay Thai

Subscribe to the Teep This Podcast via: iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play (Android). Don’t forget to give the podcast a review and share share share! For questions, suggestions or requests send an email to:


Put Me In Coach - Podcast Episode 3

Kru Ricardo Perez drilling kicks with his fighter Markell McMillan (@chocolatethundermt)

Since my introduction to combat sports in Feburary 2015, I have always been amazed by and grateful for the brilliant coaches and trainers I’ve been blessed to have access to.

From the amazing family at Krav Maga Worldwide and my first muay thai coach Akkim Lee (A4 Fitness) to the world class veterans like coach David Huey & Kru Santi Sakkomkai (Muay Thai America Gym) coach David Huerta (Robot Fight & Fitness) Coach Victor (Thai Boxing Institute) and Kru Rod Mckiver (Team Victory Muay Thai); I find it imperative to celebrate and investigate the persons whom we call “coach” and “kru”.

Episode Part One

Duration 1:07:20

Dino Spencer is a veteran martial arts and boxing coach who currently owns and operates The Legendary 5th Street Gym in South Beach, Miami.  He trains world class professional boxers, doctors, teachers, lawyers, entertainers, tourists and supermodels all equally and right alongside one another.  His knowledge and love of combat sports is hard to rival; and his Italian-American demeanor is as infectious as it is authentic.  Fuh-gedda-bah-dit!

In the first half of this episode I connected with my good friend and the absolute first person whom ever helped me don a pair of boxing gloves, coach Dino Spencer of The Legendary 5th Street Gym.  Dino shares his insights on boxing versus muay thai, the pros and cons of owning a gym and personal stories with boxing legends Angelo Dundee, Ferdie Pacheco and The Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali.

At first, I was taken a back when I learned that Dino had opened a gym in South Beach, Miami and called it the “5th Street Gym”.

I thought that was a strange kind of vague name for a gym.  But I wanted to get a peek of what he was doing so I searched the term online and ran into this book: Tales From T he 5th St. Gym.  As soon as I saw The Champ on the book’s cover I wanted to know more.  So, I purchased the audio book and began taking in the folklore and magical tales told by the book’s author Ferdie Pacheco.  Man, the book is a history lesson in the journey of american boxing and The 5th St. Gym is right at the heart of if.  I  use the stories within the book to look up classic boxing bouts online and watch them with the added context.  It’s not always a journey of roses and the book shines light on our entire society as you read on; but I can’t recommend the book highly enough.  I’m most looking forward to visiting the gym and banging pads and sparring in that environment.  It’s gotta be some kinda magic around that place no doubt!

Dino and I also get into ways to best continue the growth of our beloved combat sports and the brands who shape the way that thai boxing is being adopted into american society.  Enjoy the conversation, take notes and make it a point to get down to sunny South Beach and break a sweat with the legends at this legendary boxing gym!

Episode Part Two

Ricardo Perez is the owner Team Toro Janjira Muay Thai (Westmont, IL).  He is the head trainer at Team Toro, head coach of the USMFs “Team USA” and a partner in the emerging amateur muay thai competition bodies: The Farang Fight League and Midwest Muay Thai.

In the second half of the episode I caught up Kru Ricardo Perez of Team Toro Janjira Muay Thai. Kru Perez is undoubtedly one of the busiest muay thai trainers and gym owners in the country and likely the most important muay thai advocate in the midwest region of the United States.  Being an original Chicagoan I was excited to go home and explore the midwest fight scene by training in as many gyms as my time there would allow.  I was able to get around and get plenty of training in at facilities including Krav Maga Illinois (Highland Park, IL) headed up by Coach Jesse; as well as Reach Fieldhouse, Chicago Kickboxing Club and Hybrid Marital Arts.  Of all the locations that I visited my drive out from the city limits to Westmont proved to provide the most authentic thai boxing experience I was to find in the Chicagoland area.

Ricardo opened up and really shared with me the intimate details of what it really means to coach and mentor in a sport as demanding and potentially dangerous as thai boxing.  We talked about his own teacher Saekson Janjira where his gym Team Toro derives it’s name.  We talked about the state of Muay Thai in America, his aim to grow the sport’s visibility and popularity whilst maintaining it’s technique, culture and tradition.  We agreed that it’d be a great idea to try and connect our west coast and midwest scenes in a future cross-promotion.  I’ll be sure to carry this message to the west coast area fight promoters and look for ways to support that effort as well.

Ricardo also shared the rare story of what it looks like when one of your fighters suffers a severe injury while in the ring.  On Feb. 16, 2016 one of Ricardo’s most prized fighters, Markell McMillan aka Chocolate Thunder suffered a life-threatening head injury with only minutes left in his fight.  It’s an occurrence that has left a permanent mark on the coach as well as the gym and his entire team of fighters and students.  Some are still hesitant to get into the ring since Glory 27.

I am grateful to coach Ricardo Perez for welcoming me into Team-Toro to practice the sport of Muay Thai that we all love; and for sharing with me his story here on the Teep This Podcast.  Please enjoy the interview, images and videos; and follow Kru Perez and Team-Toro Muay Thai on Facebook and Instagram.

Featured Musical Guest

Mibbs, of Pac Div, has arrived.  What began as a collaborative effort between two talented brothers and their longtime friend has now evolved. Mibbs is branching out – new venture, new energy and new sound. Building off of his initial success with Pac Div and their countless tours and shows with the likes of Snoop Dogg, N.E.R.D, Kid Cudi, Q-Tip, Nas and more, Mibbs is finally grabbing the mic on his own. In an ever-changing industry, plagued by a formulaic approach, Mibbs is looking the other way and breaking fresh ground. With so much more to offer than just one “style”, Mibbs plays with varied musical influences and genres, pushing his audible vision past the current constraints in hip hop. This is what Mibbs has been waiting for. You’ve been warned. There are no rules. Anything goes. Mibbs over everything.

Listen to The Program and more music by Mibbs on

As always thank you for checking out the Teep This Podcast. Thank you for your interest in muay thai and please comment below and remember that sharing is caring!  Live well, love much, laugh often and train hard.  Sawadee krap.

Subscribe to the Teep This Podcast via: iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play (Android). Don’t forget to give the podcast a review and share share share! For questions, suggestions or requests send an email to:


The Magic Of Media - Podcast Episode 2

This installment of the Teep This Podcast is packed w muay thai history and personal stories about the legends of the sport and pioneers of introducing thai boxing to the United States.

The personal accounts of muay thai photographers Jeff Dojillo and Erica De León (Vivar Photography) are inspiring stories about how muay thai basically saved their lives and continues to enhance their life journeys every single day! We honor them in this month’s podcast for enriching our lives through the images that they shoot and share of the valiant spirits who practice, teach and live the ancient Art of 8 Limbs. Sawadee krap.


Duration 1:34:11

  • 00:39 Episode Introduction
  • 02:41 Local Muay Thai News
  • 03:52 Episode Introduction
  • 05:30 Meet Jeff Dojillo
  • 06:01 My Muay Thai Story
  • 11:26 West Coast Muay Thai
  • 18:23 Shooting Kevin Ross & David Huerta
  • 23:11 Going Deeper With David Huerta
  • 30:52 A Bikini-clad Tiffany Van Soest
  • 36:22 Natalie Killface and Muay Ying
  • 39:04 Hip Hop & Paying The Bills
  • 40:11 Dialogue – Jeff’s Next Big Thing
  • 45:04 Follow Jeff Dojillo Online
  • 46:24 Intermission

Jeff Dojillo is a commercial and fine art photographer; and the Creative Director for  West Coast Muay Thai.  Jeff has been shooting and documenting muay thai fighters since 2009.  Jeff lives in Los Angeles.

Since I first began moving through the Los Angeles muay thai community Jeff Dojillo has been a present force.  Our discussion here delves into the origins of muay thai’s presence here on the west coast, and features a detailed account of Jeff’s journey through muay thai gyms, trainers and experiences.  Including his time at The Boxing Club (San Diego) training with Melchor Menor, Caine Gayle and Artem Sheroshkin before turning pro.  The legendary Fairtex Gym in San Francisco (now closed) alongside Luis Bio and Ganyao Arunleung.  Other key elements in our discussion reach as far as Rajadamnern Stadium in Thailand and we get inside of Galen Okazaki’s West Coast Muay Thai brand and collaborating with photographers Marty Rockatansky and Ahren Nunag.  Jeff shares very personal and enriching stories about his journey through muay thai via taking us behind the scenes of portraits that he’s shot of our favorite muay thai fighters in North America including Kevin Ross, David Huerta and Tiffany Van Soest (pictured below).  I hope that you enjoy our conversation as much as I did and please share the articles and spread the word.  Muay Thai is here to stay!  Here are a few other links that we touched on in the interview which may be of interest to you. | Robot Fight & Fitness | Tetsuya YamatoUSA vs ThailandInside The FightMark BeecherEast Los Angeles Youth Center | Adam Rothweiler | Coach Jorge ZerateZarate Muay ThaiDialogue (video teaser) | And here’s another interview on Jeff Dojillo at a respected muay thai source My Muay Thai 

The best links to keep up with Jeff Dojillo are his website and

Episode Part Two


  • 46:53 Meet Erica De Leon
  • 48:58 How I Got Into Muay Thai
  • 51:57 Muay Thai Saved My Life
  • 52:29 Photography, Pink Lady & Big Troy
  • 1:01:37 Learning The Ropes With Marty Rockatasnky
  • 1:06:34 Selina Flores’ Rise To Popularity
  • 1:10:11 On Being A Lady-Photographer
  • 1:11:45 No More Underdog
  • 1:15:11 The Flying Knee
  • 1:19:28 Shooting Selina Flores for WCK
  • 1:23;43 Finally Feeling Accepted
  • 1:25:32 What’s Next & Where To Find My Work
  • 1:28:29 Episode Wrap Up
  • 1:29:22 Next Month’s Episode
  • 1:30:26 Talkin’ Crap — by The Surge and Sam I Am The MC

Erica De León is a muay thai photographer with an emphasis on action photography.  She is a mother of 3 and practices muay thai regularly at least 3 days per week.

In this second half of the podcast I caught up with photographer and muay thai fanatic Erica De León of Vivar Photography.  She’s a super passionate individual a devoted mother,  committed photographer and she trains hard alongside champion muay thai fighters like Ariana ‘Pink Lady’ Gomez and Selina Flores.  In our conversation Erica takes us inside training at Muay Thai Academy of America in North Hollywood, CA.  She shares intimate stories of how she found muay thai, photography and became friends with the likes of Ariana Gomez and Troy Fisher (Big Troy of Cali Muay Thai Series).  Erica has shot some beautiful images and we discussed a few including one of my favorites in her repertoire entitled The Flying Knee fearturing 11 year old Isaiah “Izzy” Ramirez.  Erica is hilarious, honest and inspired.  She was truly a joy to speak with and I know there’s nothing but more to come as we’ve just scratched the surface of what lies ahead!  I’ll look forward to seeing her this month out at the fights ringside capturing the magic that is muay thai in action and ultimately training with her and breaking an honest sweat.  Please enjoy the interviews and the music and above all enjoy this and every moment.  Sawaddee krap.

“TALKIN’ CRAP” | The Surge feat. Sam I Am The MC
is available for free download right here right now!

This month’s podcast episode comes laced with a fun musical offering from Chicago true-school hip-hop artists The Surge and Sam I Am The MC. Sam I Am is an incredible artist, incredible human being and a die-hard-hip-hop-head!  He’s an authentic songwriter and producer who prides himself on practicing and preserving the art of freestyle rapping.  He and his friends like The Surge produce and host one-off and repeat hip-hop nights around Chicago advocating for and advancing hip-hop; the music and the accompanying culture that they love and respect so dearly.  Check out their Soundcloud pages and enjoy and share their music.  They’ll love you back for sure!

Subscribe to the Teep This Podcast via: iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play (Android). Don’t forget to give the podcast a review and share share share! For questions, suggestions or requests send an email to:


WCK Ultimate Conquest

Remember... No one does Muay Thai like WCKMuayThai

words and images by Charles Little II for TEEPTHIS.COM

Joe Gogo vs Travis Clay for the WBC Muay Thai Lightweight National Title

What a night of fights and what a way to start the year! The Four Points Sheraton Hotel in sunny San Diego played host to this year’s initial WCK throw-down.  The house was packed and the crowd was hungry for the evening’s main event, the WBC Muay Thai Lightweight National Title bout between favorite Joe Gogo and Travis Clay.  I first caught Joe Gogo at WCKs Cali 16 when he edged out Renato Mansilla in a split decision.  Joe Gogo aka “Go Go Guam” is a super exciting fighter!  He’s got a lion’s heart, he moves like a boxer and always comes with a posse of followers screaming behind him; just super electric.  I knew that he was coming for that green belt, but I also know that Travis Clay was not to be taken lightly. Here’s a great article on Clay’s rise to prominence on the wings of his Lion Fight performances.  Albeit I’m a fan of both Gogo and Clay, I gotta admit internally I favored Clay; so it was simply impossible to stay in my seat ringside when these two went at it.  What an exciting fight! Gogo’s right hand and Clay’s left roundhouse sent the other reeling on their heels multiple times throughout this contest.  Gogo really came to win!  He got rocked once in round 4 but kept going forward so hard that he literally ran at Clay.  Yeah, it was THAT kind of amazing!  Remember when I told you that Gogo always comes with a crowd?  Yeah, well, this night was no exception.  The building rumbled when Gogo landed, when Gogo got caught and when the decision came out in favor of Clay after five rounds.  It was a tough pill for Gogo and his supports to swallow and promoter Dennis Warner was considerate allowing Joe Gogo to address his many supporters and congratulate his opponent as a true warrior would; and both Travis Clay and Joe Gogo are true warriors.

Stand by for the rematch I can almost say “that’s a promise”!

IAMTF Lightweight Champion Travis Clay with his team from Sitan Gym (Arizona) at WCK Ultimate Conquest (San Diego, CA)

IAMTF Women's Featherweight and Atomweight Title bouts.

I can easily say that three of these four fighters are the reason that I didn’t hesitate to buy my ticket to this fight the moment that I saw the card.

I’ve been following Alyshia Madison since I first got a taste of her and her coach Steven Frye (Victory MMA, San Diego) last year at WCKs Cali 14.  That’s the same night that my fascination began with Ana “Anaconda” Flores after her bloody showdown with Colleen Duffy, what a cracker!  Selina Flores has been making a name for herself steadily through 2016 and after witnessing her performance against Akari Wang last summer at WCKs Cali 16 I was committed to seeing just how the smaller in stature Ana Flores was going to deal with Selina’s reach and forward pressure.  Of course, I wasn’t aware of Amanda Derosa until she stepped into the ring with Alyshia Code Red.  San Diego is Alyshia’s home turf so she had the room behind her and admittedly me too.  But Amanda Derosa was a clinic to watch.  I loved her turtled muay-thai stance, her advancing jab, left switch-kick and man she was tough in the clinch.  These two clinched up quite a bit.  Madison was ever-poised and calm but Derosa consistently laid that glove across Madison’s face and she’s a deceivingly strong woman.  It was an honor to witness these two go at it and make some noise for both of them as Amanda took home the W and the IAMTF Featherweight belt.  Congratulations ladies I look forward to seeing more of you both.

Superstar photographer Fabian Lagunas took some incredible photos of this and all the fights on this night check out his instagram feed

New IAMTF Women's Featherweight Champion Amanda Derosa

WBC Muay Thai Super Welterweight title bout and superstar fighters from the San Diego Muay Thai scene

As soon as I snapped this shot of James Gregory walking out I instantly remembered catching him at WCKs Cali 14.  The coaches and students from San Diego’s Art of 8 Training had the place rocking for their fighters and it was great to see Mike Lemaire cornering Gregory once again!  I’m looking forward to catching Lemaire this month at Glory 37 here in Los Angeles.  If you haven’t gotten your tickets you’d better get to it!  James Gregory took home the W after three rounds; followed by Antonio Arango capturing an inspiring TKO over his opponent Jose Lopez which led to Antonio’s captivating victory pose!  The place went nuts and yeah so did I.  Check out Antonio’s instagram feed.  He’s a true nak muay and I look forward to seeing more of him in the future.

Last but not least in this post I’d be remiss if I didn’t hightlight David Pacheco and Super Landon Simmon‘s anticipated contests.  USKO gym (Riverside, CA) came out in strength to support both their fighters David Pacheco and Ana Flores.  I’ve only seen Pacheco and Joey Pagliuso fight on WCK Full Rules Muay Thai fights aired on Fox Sports Prime Ticket until now so it was great to watch Pacheco’s “get down” in the flesh.  Pacheco’s opponent Andrew Nguyen of Buhawe Muay Thai (Fresno, CA) was young, fresh, sporting these massive quads and had a nice crowd section pulling for him as well.  They both looked great, traded a lot and were very technical; but Pacheco’s experience, strength, and precision resulted in the win by TKO.  I also first learned of Super Landon Simmon by way of WCK Full Rules Muay Thai airings on Fox Sports Prime Ticket; and I’ve watched his fights repeatedly.  He’s a powerhouse and his style varies so he’s a clinic to witness.  Simmon successfully defended his WBC Muay Thai Super Welterweight belt against Francisco “El Travieso” Garcia (Valor Muay Thai, San Diego) with a spinning back kick to Garcia’s bread basket resulting in a win by K.O.  Both fighters had their share of highlight moments and the fight overall was another cracker to behold.  I’ll be certain not to miss the next opportunity to catch “El Travieso” in the ring! Here’s an interesting article on Garcia’s journey to take in.  You can add his name to your “Ones 2 Watch” list!

Again, head over to Fabian Lagunas’ instagram page for a great collection
of stunning images from this fight and the other fights on this night!

Enjoy the images here as well from your truly and head over to my photo journal
for more highlight moments from our burgeoning Muay Thai fight scene.