Thursday, March 13, 2008

Kickboxer Malaipet making successful conversion to MMA

Malaipet will try to continue his transformation from world-class Muay Thai kickboxer to mixed martial arts star when he faces off with Thomas Denny in the main event of ShoXC's Elite Challenger Series on Friday, March 21.

A winner of three fights in a row, Malaipet is a 17-year pro with more than 300 Muay Thai bouts on his resume.

"Malaipet is a legend in kickboxing, but I think a lot of us are anxious to see how he does as he continues to step up," EXC president Gary Shaw said.

In his debut for EliteXC, Malaipet showcased his astounding striking skills as he easily bested Kaleo Kwan en route to winning a decision in October.

Malaipet, whose birth name is Monkhon WiWasuk, was born in Thailand and grew up living in a wooden hut on his family’s rice and potato farm with his mother, father, four brothers and sister. With no electricity, the family relied on their pet elephant for an alarm clock. Malaipet even tells stories of everyone stopping what they were doing when a plane flew overhead and just watching with awe.

His family was dealt a tragic blow when his mother died when he was six and the land, which had come from her side of the family, reverted back to her family. To help earn money, Malaipet began to fight. At the age of eight, he earned about a dollar to fight in a small Muay Thai show at a temple near his hometown of Gajapuri.

He's been fighting ever since. At 11, Malaipet moved to Bangkok where he experienced modern civilization for the first time and immersed himself in Thai boxing. From ages 12-15, he had no contact with his family. "I was homesick, hungry and cried a lot," Malaipet said.

But he stuck with the fighting life, and the decision has paid huge dividends. When Malaipet came to the United States in 2001 he didn’t speak English but he quickly earned the language by reading childrens books. He would go on to teach Muay Thai at Combative Arts Academy in Beverly Hills, California, and currently teaches at Team Diamond martial arts school in Upland.

"I started watching MMA when I got to the U.S. and liked what I saw," he said. "I respect both Muay Thai and MMA. I am still learning, but I feel I have what it takes to make it in MMA."

Meanwhile, Denny has won three of his last four starts. A former King of the Cage champion who recently signed with EliteXC, the 5-foot-10-inch Denny (25-16) has fought the likes of Joe Stevenson, Duane Ludwig and Yves Edwards.

A colorful fighter known for wild and crazy hairstyles, Denny specializes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, and Muay Thai kickboxing. His self-proclaimed signature moves are "knees and elbows."

Look for Denny to attempt to take down Malaipet, a tactic that Kwan ignored until the final round.

"Malaipet is untested on the ground. Well, I am going to test him,"’ Denny said. "I always like to do the opposite of whatever my opponent is doing anyway, and everyone knows Malaipet wants to stand up. So, you can bet I am going to try and take it to the ground. This is a great opportunity for both of us but there can only be one winner. I am confident the winner will be me."

In other bouts on the telecast, Marlon Matias (5-1) of Brazil faces Conor Huen of (6-2) of Los Angeles at 160 pounds; Brazil’s Cristiane Cyborg (5-0) collides with Jen Case (4-1) of Topeka, Kan., at 140 pounds; Shane Del Rosario (3-0) of Irvine, Calif., meets Analu Brash (2-1) of Kula, Maui, at 265 pounds; and Mark Oshiro (9-1) of Honolulu clashes with Chris Caraiso (6-0) of California at 140 pounds.

Non-televised bouts include: Karen Darabedyn (2-1) of Hollywood, Calif., vs. TBA, at 160 pounds; Devin Howard (debut) of La Habra, Calif., vs., Mark Kempthorne (1-4) of Vandenberg, Calif., at 170 pounds; Amadeo Viola (0-1) of San Bernardino, Calif., vs. Jason Williams (debut), Vandenberg, Calif., at 265 pounds; Luke Riddering (debut) of San Luis Obispo, Calif., vs. TBA at 170 pounds; and Kenny Johnson (debut) of Los Angeles vs. TBA at 170 pounds.

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