By James Goyder, Special Contributor
Undefeated Canadian Jeremy Kennedy cemented his status as an up and coming prospect to keep an eye on with a dominant victory over Viktor Larsson in the main event of the Songkran MMA Festival in Thailand on Saturday night.
The event was organized by Oliver Coste and featured a mixture of pro and amateur MMA bouts and Muay Thai fights with all the action taking place inside a cage at The Grand Stadium in Hua Hin. A close to capacity crowd was treated to a series of submissions with very few fights going the distance.
Kennedy trains out of Team Quest in Chiang Mai and the Canadian showcased his striking and wrestling skills in what turned out to be a very one sided headline fight. Larson showed plenty of heart but was simply out matched by a superior opponent. Early in the opening round Kennedy shot for a takedown and was eventually able to secure a double leg. From that position he went to work with a non stop assault of ground and pound, first from side control and then after taking Larson’s back.
Larson, who fights out of the nearby 301 Muay Thai & MMA, was never going to tap to strikes but the referee was taking a very close look at the action towards the end of the round as Kennedy landed a series of hard punches to the head of his Swedish opponent, who was simply covering up and hoping to survive long enough to hear the bell. In the second round Larson looked to have regained his composure after the brutal beating he had received in the opening exchanges only for Kennedy to show a new side to his game, dropping the taller Swedish fighter with a perfectly timed overhand right.
Again Larson showed huge heart to stay in there when it initially appeared he might have been knocked out but as Kennedy postured up and punished him with punches the referee called a stop to the contest to save the stricken Swede from enduring any further punishment. Kennedy improves to 4-0 with the second round TKO win and will be no walkover for UFC veteran Will Chope who he faces at PRO Fighting 9 next month. Larson drops to 1-1 but can console himself with the knowledge that he was beaten by a genuinely high calibre opponent in this 68 kgs catchweight contest.
The co-main event saw Yoann Gouaida return to the cage to take on Thai debutant Maytee Taypakram in a fight set at 80 kgs which turned out to be fast and furious, with the French fighter eventually prevailing with a rear naked choke.
Taypakram was advertised as being a wrestler but his wild, brawling style of striking posed Gouaida a few problems with the Muay Thai veteran getting tagged a couple of times in some frantic early exchanges. Gouaida was able to weather the storm and take the fight into the clinch where he took advantage of his superior height to land some hard knees to his opponent’s head. Taypakram fell to the floor where the French fighter wasted no time in taking his back and sinking in a rear naked choke for a win which takes him to 4-3, while the Thai drops to 0-1.
In the first pro MMA fight of the night Liam McGowan, who like Gouaida was fighting out of 301 Muay Thai & MMA, also submitted a Thai opponent but he did not have things all his own way against Litisak Plawan. The Thai came in exactly 7 kgs smaller than his opponent for this lightweight fight but started strong, landing a hard body kick which seemed to take the wind out of McGowan and then executing a hop toss to take the fight to the ground. The Canadian responded with a takedown of his own but the fight was stood up after multiple shots to the back of the head. McGowan looked the worse for wear at the end of the round but he responded well in the second stanza, securing another takedown, mounting his opponent and then rolling for an arm bar.
It was an entertaining fight and McGowan’s pro career gets off to the perfect start as he advances to 1-0 while Plawan, who might like to think about competing in the correct weight class next time, drops to 0-1.
The night got underway with a four man 135 lbs amateur MMA tournament and two Muay Thai bouts. There is no word on whether Coste will put on another event but with a close to sold out crowd and entertaining action from start to finish there is no question that his inaugural show was a success.