Khalil Rountree - Muay Thai and MMA
If you listen to the experts you will hear them say that a successful MMA practitioner needs a striking and a wrestling/BJJ base at the very least to be able to compete in the caged arena.
This is almost true as there are exceptions to every rule and a genius wrestler can stifle,smother and defeat an opponent who may be a first class striker without throwing a single punch.It won't make for an exciting fight but it can happen and it has happened.
If you accept that striking is an essential component then you would struggle to argue that there is not a better fighting discipline than Muay Thai, to form the striking basis.
You can try to argue, of course, if you come from another striking discipline but you would be delusional. Sorry.
If you watch a lot of MMA and if you know that Muay Thai is so vital then you will be a bit weirded out that you never see someone in the cage adopt that traditional Muay Thai stance and throw like a Nak Muay throws.
You might say that this is because the stance does not work well against an opponent who is shooting in for a leg grab and you might say that the traditional stance lacks movement and footwork to deal with a western boxing styled opponent. You may be right, the chaos and milliseconds involved in decision making means that the trad MT style and stance may have its limitations and so far no one in the cage has come out like a pure Nak Muay.
Khalil Rowntree was pure Muay Thai against Eryk Anders at UFC 236 and it was a perfect execution of the front bouncy leg and the destructive lightening leg kicks that seem to destroy so many hard men and women in the cage.They destroyed Eryk on that day.
Of course, there have been devastating leg kick wins by Jose Aldo and other curatiba style kick boxers within an MMA contest but it was never supported by the Muay Thai frame and movement style.
This pure MT fight style, although Khalil had been practicing a western/Brazilian style for most of his career, had taken Rountree only 4 months to program into his repertoire and his trust in Muay Thai means that he has now moved his whole life to Phuket to train full time at Tiger to become even more of a murderer than he already is.....it's Muay Thai that will take him there.
Our hope is that this will open the gates a little....and open them within the UFC.
Of course you can already see ONE CHAMPIONSHIP fights where 4 oz gloves are thrown in a Muay Thai contest but these are not mainstream and although massive in the far east, they do not reach the European and American markets very easily. The casual fight fan is unlikely to see them.
Khalil Rountree may have just pushed that door open a tiny bit for the Muay Thai scene to grow a little bit quicker.
Your casual fan just might have seen a stance that looked slightly weird but beautiful and effective.
Fighting is always evolving, Muay Thai is also evolving.....but it is such a pleasure to see an old friend step into a mixed martial arts arena and school the opponent with some traditional style.
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