With clinical precision, Chip Moraza-Pollard peppered Jordan Smith and expertly showcased his slick skill set on the way to retaining his Lion Fight world cruiserweight title and adding the vacant Muay Thai Grand Prix world cruiserweight belt on Saturday in London, England.
“The Surgeon” Moraza-Pollard (6-0) captured a clear-cut unanimous decision over Smith (11-1) in the main event of Muay Thai Grand Prix presents Lion Fight 39 before a packed house at the Indigo at O2 Arena and airing live on FloCombat.com.
Both fighters went to work quickly in the opening moments, but it was Moraza-Pollard, who fights out of Plymouth, Massachusetts, who dished out the damage with jabs and straight rights that bloodied Smith’s nose. The assault continued in the second round as Moraza-Pollard connected with heavy kicks to Smith’s front leg and followed that up with left hooks and elbow strikes. Smith, who was fighting in front of his home-town fans, was further bloodied up in the third by an elbow-left hook combination in the corner that sprouted a cut above the right eye of “The Prophesy.” Even as the challenger tried to rally in the late going, he was stopped in his tracks by solid kicks to the body.
In the co-main event, reigning MTGP super featherweight champion Jose “The Pitbull” Varela capped off his career in fine form with a unanimous decision verdict over challenger Amine “The Moroccan Freak” Ballafrikh, who was arguably the busier of the two fighters. Varela (43-13-1) overpowered Ballafrikh (9-4) in the clinch and never allowed his opponent to put together anything damaging. Varela’s work in tight earned him the unanimous decision, and the champ went on top as he announced his retirement immediately after the bout.
The first of the three title fights on the main card saw France’s James “The Jaguar” Benal (25-8) get past England’s Ryan “The Lion” Li (15-4) to claim the vacant MTGP world light heavyweight crown in a compelling bout. Li suffered an apparent foot injury in the second round but fought through the obvious pain, and put Benal in danger during a wild third round with knees to the body followed by a crisp right hand. After being warned for repeated low blows in the clinch, Benal promptly followed the verbal scolding with a kick that caught Li in the face and then a knee to the body. The hard-fought tilt closed with Benal landing another knee to the body and Li responding with hard right to his foe’s midsection. Benal was awarded the victory via unanimous decision.
A featured bout on the main card became a highlight-reel coming out party for Californian Eddie “Silky Smooth” Abasolo (9-1). The Lion Fight middleweight thoroughly dominated British foe Jersey Pinto beginning with a short elbow strike that inflicted a serious cut above the eye. Abasolo pressed the action and wobbled Pinto (10-4-1) with two spinning elbows, and later landed two more elbows that further split open his opponent. The judges gave Abasolo the victory, though inexplicably the outcome was a hard-to-fathom split-decision. Still, Abasolo’s performance was so impressive that he received the Fighter of the Night award.
Another big showing on the main card came courtesy Spain’s Miguel Martinez Molina (33-8), who scored a one-punch knockout thanks to a picture-perfect straight right that dropped England’s Daniel Terry (18-8) just 1:10 into their lightweight bout.
Other Lion Fight 39 results:
Featherweight – Evan Jays (5-2) def. Aaron McGahey (6-6), unanimous decision
Super Welterweight – John Scott (14-8-1) vs. Michael Pham (14-4-1), draw
Super Middleweight – Nicolas Mendes (18-4-1) def. Steve Primrose (9-8-2), TKO 1:06 Round 1
Super Middleweight – Rob Hayward (9-12-1) def. Lewis Childs (13-5), unanimous decision