Welcome to the latest edition of Missed Fists where we shine a light on fights from across the globe that may have been overlooked in these hectic times where it seems like there’s an MMA show every other day.
For a while there, it looked like the fine folks at CamSoda were one and done in the MMA business, and who could blame them? CamSoda Legends was one for the history books and—for better or worse—one of the most memorable combat sports events of the past decade.
Last Saturday, they came back with a vengeance, teaming up with Thailand’s Full Metal Dojo promotion to bring you the historic Fight Circus event in Bangkok. If you missed it live (or just didn’t feel comfortable watching without a reliable adblocker), the entire three-hour show is available for free on FMD’s official YouTube channel.
So go ahead, watch it. Do it. We’ll wait.
Now that we’re all caught up, let’s share some initial impressions.
Fight Circus Vol. 1
JM: Last weekend was the most fun I’ve had watching MMA in years. Two years and four months to be exact, because that’s how long the MMA gods made us wait for the return of CamSoda to the fight space. And though the wait was long, dear lord it was worth it. Just check out the prizes they were competing for!
A samurai sword for the winner and a bong for the loser over at Fight Circus pic.twitter.com/hJ9lrAxtLK— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) August 23, 2020
Why yes, that is a samurai sword for the winner and a pink bong for the loser. They also gave out golden axes.
AL: It should be noted that recreational drug use is strictly forbidden in Thailand, so our master of ceremonies for the evening Jon Nutt (more on him later) cheekily referred to the sponsor-provided bongs as “vases.”
JM: Has there ever been a more perfect event?
AL: I admit, we’re off to a fine start with this opening tease.
JM: But those were how fights ended and so much more happened before we got to that. It was an evening of violence, absurdity, and surprise twists! That’s right, though the card was billed with eight fights on it, CamSoda and FMD hit us with two SECRET fights.
I exchanged e-mails with CamSoda Vice President Daryn Parker prior to last Saturday’s show (check out the full interview here) and as crazy as this card ended up being, we apparently missed out on two women fighting a man and a fighter being matched up with a wild animal. Disappointing, but keep in mind, this is specifically referred to by FMD as “Vol. 1.”
JM: Khabib is gonna rematch the bear at “CamSoda FightCircus Vol. 29: The Revenant”
AL: I hate to be a buzzkill, but that bear is probably dead by now.
JM: Wow, you really just left “BEARer of bad news” on the table like that? For shame.
You know who else is leaving stuff on the table? The UFC. There is so much opportunity for them to bogart Fight Circus ideas like the NFL did with the XFL, and good lord willing, one idea they will steal is the Secret Bonus Fight idea. How great would it be if tomorrow you’re just watching two random Contender Series journeymen fight and then out of nowhere Dana repels from the rafters and is like, “and up next, Arianny Celeste and Brittney Palmer are going to put down the ring cards and put up their dukes!”
AL: Given how business savvy Arianny and Brittney have been (mock ring girls all you want, but Arianny has been building her brand through the UFC since 2006), it is shocking that as far as we know they never tried to talk Dana White into letting them have a surprise exhibition scrap to open an Ultimate Fighter finale or something.
Wait, what am I saying? We’ve barely started this feature and Fight Circus booking is already poisoning my mind. Let’s get this ball rolling and just lean into the madness.
Ali Mohammed vs. Ryan Donnelly
JM: The event opened with an openweight fight between Ali Mohammed, billed as a random fat dude who runs a kebab stand and Ryan Donnelly, a bantamweight MMA fighter with 11 amateur fights.
The KING OF KEBAB title is on the line this weekend!— Full Metal Dojo - Fight Circus Vol 1 (@FullMetalDojo) August 20, 2020
Ali Mohammad vs Ryan Donnelly
Witness it LIVE at https://t.co/Gf46JoCJmM
North America / Saturday AUG 22 - 10PM EST
Thailand / Sunday AUG 23 - 9AM#fullmetaldojo #fightcircus #camsoda pic.twitter.com/9ickijsTeg
AL: Mohammed is gleefully referred to by Nutt as “the king of kebab” (among other things) and there’s a pretty clear bias from him and commentators Arran Sirisompan and Teddy Mulvagh going into this.
JM: The commentators, who had their moments but also hit some real lows on the event, did at least nail it out of the opening gates with “I would normally say there are sharks in the water but here there are walruses in the water.”
AL: Sirisompan does his best to have fun while keeping his head just above the muck, but Mulvagh is objectively terrible. However, he’s also kind of the ideal commentator for this event depending on how you’re approaching it, so mileage may vary. Let’s just say he doesn’t have much of a filter, and on a show like this, a lot of truly offensive word vomit comes out.
But back to our first fight.
JM: Look, if you came here this week looking for good fights, KOs, and submissions, you’re gonna leave wanting. There was nothing good about Fight Circus. But it was perfect and those are two separate, but equally important ideas. After all, in a good fight would you ever get this?
AL: At first, I thought that Donnelly would be the classic polite Canadian, but once he started feeling himself all decorum went out the window.
JM: Sadly, for Donnelly, the actual fighter of the two, he lost. Not the strongest pro debut you’ll ever see but given the obstacles he faced, I bet we see him in the UFC house in a couple of years anyway. Like a poor man’s Jorge Masvidal.
Po Chissakan vs. Nattarat Prempida
Now, to peel back the curtain here just a bit, there were a few fights on this card that were legitimate lethwei contests (or something close to legitimate) but we don’t want to spend too much time on it.
AL: These fighters are apparently actually going to be booked for an actual World Lethwei Championship card in the future off of the strength of their Fight Circus performances.
JM: Of course, because the beauty of FightCircus is that it’s a launching pad for careers. Take this Po woman. She can actually fight!
And Nattarat was game as hell.
AL: The camera cut away, but I thought for a second there she actually did throw up but it was blocked by her mouth guard. And yes, I just wrote that sentence.
JM: So, remember when I said there were surprise fights? Well, after watching that one woman get chewed up, Fight Circus upped the ante, dropping a surprise intergender grappling match between a woman with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt and some dude they pulled off the street.
??? vs. ???
No, seriously. The whole pitch here was that this guy had never grappled in his life and it’s tough to think he was lying.
AL: The fight was so thrown together that the ring introduction didn’t even include their names, so this was either because there wasn’t time to relay that information or they wanted to protect their identities.
JM: We finally have an answer to if Ronda Rousey could beat up Floyd Mayweather!
AL: Was never in doubt.
Chitnuphong Sommuttiram vs. Tang Mo
JM: Following the surprise man vs. woman fight, things got back on track with, you guessed it, another Fat Guy vs. Small Guy fight and this time, things did not go so well for the fat man.
AL: Eating a foot there is Tang Mo, jokingly referred to by the commentators as the “Brad Pitt of Thailand.” There was a lot of that kind of humor on this show.
By the way, this was our first bout of the night contested under “Trinity Rules,” meaning the first round is boxing, the second muay Thai, and the third MMA. I would kill to see this done in a major North American promotion, let’s make it happen.
Mo twice called for timeouts during the fight, seemingly to protest a head butt and later an eye poke (neither happened) and after the bout was waved off, Nutt said this to the crowd: “Let’s give a round of applause to Tang Mo, who just got kicked in the fu**ing head.” He then called Mo “Sofa the Hutt.”
It was a long day for Mo, who took it all with a smile on his face.
JM: Of course he did. He was done fighting and could go enjoy the free drinks they were undoubtedly paying all the fighters with.
AL: Donnelly actually hopped into the live YouTube comments following his fight.
Fabiano Hawthorne vs. Kyoken Tampiyanan
JM: So that’s our head kick quota covered for this week, how about our KO quota? Because Fight Circus wasn’t all complete insanity (though it mostly was). There was also some honest-to-God violence in, you guessed it, one of the WLC bouts.
AL: Hawthorne was presented as a “hot fire, latin lover” because he’s from Brazil (???). In fairness, he did end up bringing the heat, smoking Kyoken with a sweet elbow in the clinch.
JM: You know my favorite thing about Fight Circus? Every time there was something resembling normal fisticuffs, they immediately hit you with an insane pallet cleanser. Case in point: The next bout was a kicking only bout, dubbed “human cockfighting”.
AL: This was our second Sideshow Bonus Fight of the night and absolutely delivered with Kyokushin Karate (again, the fighters names went unannounced) triumphing over muay Thai in definitive fashion.
Karate looked legit! It was such an odd gimmick, I can’t believe I’m saying that this was maybe the best fight of the night from a technical standpoint (not that anyone cares about that when it comes to Fight Circus).
JM: Honestly, I’m in love with this concept for a fight. Can we get Anthony Pettis in a kicking-only fight, immediately? Pettis vs. the Kyokushin Kid. Showtime gets welcomed to the New Machida Era. I’d pay $100 to watch that.
AL: I’d pay $1000 to watch Pettis thrown into the cage with one leg tied behind his back against a bodybuilder with zero martial arts training.
JM: And now, finally, we come to the real main event of the evening. No, not the actual main event of the card, but the people’s main event.
Bank & No Money vs. Mikhail Vetrila
AL: You can’t hype this one enough. This justified the whole Fight Circus concept.
JM: The one everyone was excited to watch. The two-on-one fight between two brothers and a Ukranian lawyer. Don’t believe me? Right before they were about to sound the bell to start the bout, CamSoda’s stream cut out, and they stopped the event until it came back. That’s right, the hero Jon Nutt was just like, hold on, everyone wait, and they all did until the stream came back to life.
And thank god they did.
Fight Circus 2v1’s are as wild as expected— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) August 23, 2020
The team of 2 ended up winning
Then an encore was called upon and the team of 2 won again pic.twitter.com/UaqQ9xA8Gy
AL: These two fighters, one of them a breakdancer apparently, came into this fight with a motherflippin’ plan. Mikhail Vetrila is a big dude and looks like he could mess up either of the brothers easily… in a normal fight. But a handicap match? They had the perfect tactic with one brother just running in and holding him while the other fired those fists of fury.
JM: Those are my favorite punches in MMA history and it’s not even close. The Ukranian lawyer has no way to defend himself and that kid rattles off a 14-punch combination that is quite possibly the least effective striking of all time. It’s amazing. But not as amazing as what happens next.
After the two men subdued their larger foe and forced him to submit, the Ukranian lawyer stood up, and asked for a rematch. AND THEY DID IT RIGHT THEN AND THERE.
AL: Let’s not gloss over the fact that this pro fighter got caught in a rear-naked choke by a B-BOY. I don’t blame Vetrila for asking for a rematch, he had to do something to redeem himself.
JM: I sh*t you not, when I was watching and the immediate rematch actually happened, I spit out my drink. Unfortunately, things did not turn out differently for our poor Goliath.
AL: I mean, technically he lost by TKO and not submission that time?
Credit to Sirisompan for summing up that fight with an absolutely exquisite call:
“For six million years, people have been roaming the Earth. We have been evolving over time, we have great civilizations, improving medicine, industrialization, and then new technologies. And tonight we just fu**ed it all up with this fight right here.”
JM: Again, I’m not here to say that what happened at Fight Circus was good, or even decent. It was neither of those things. But that was by far the most enjoyable fight night of the year. Of course I like to watch great fighters executing high-level skills in elite competition, but I also like to watch random slobberknockers between journeymen, and yes, I even enjoy carnival sideshow fights like this.
AL: This was followed by another David (middleweight) vs. Goliath (heavyweight) fight between Danel Dorrer and Hidetaka Arato, then the super heavyweight main event between Steven Banks and Sam Cassidy. As fine as those efforts were, there really was no following that two-versus-one fight. And initially there were two such bouts booked!
That said, Banks vs. Cassidy was billed by the announcers as a fight that would determine the heavyweight champion of the universe, so apparently we’ve been wasting our time with all of this “Stipe, DC, Fedor” nonsense.
JM: Stipe is the heavyweight champion of the world, not the whole universe! He’s got some work to do before then, and it has to happen inside the Fight Circus ring.
Listen, at the heart of it all, MMA is supposed to be fun, and what is more fun than this kind of devil-may-care, free form nonsense where anything can happen? Sometimes a man wants steak and sometimes he wants a gas station burrito. Sure, afterwards your body may regret the decisions you’ve made, but damn if that burrito didn’t hit the spot.
Sign me up for Vol. 2, which will apparently feature a bout between the two little people who accompanied the fighters to the ring last Saturday:
AL: It was truly a magical evening, one that somehow had less low blows than any recent UFC show. I don’t know if I would ever want CamSoda to keep a regular schedule, but teaming up with FMD once every few months to splash our palettes with sweet, sugary treats? You know we’ll be there.
Now someone pass the vase.
What was the most memorable Fight circus moment?
This poll is closed
Kicks-only "human cockfight"
Two-versus-one MMA fight
Other (leave comment below)