History was made in the United Arab Emirates at the World Expo in Dubai with the Muaythai Fight Night World Expo 2022. It was a night where the world muaythai family came together to celebrate with a special delegation of the highest-ranking travelling from the Kingdom of Thailand and joining the representatives from around the world by invitation of the United Arab Emirates Muaythai Federation, the official member of IFMA.
The centre of the expo was transformed into a massive muaythai stadium for this night with the main 5 fights being WMC title fights. The intercontinental title fight saw Valentin Thibaut from France face Bobirjon Tagaev from Uzbekistan which was an amazing bout and an amazing performance by the French fighter. Both fighters showcased why they are ranked in the top 10 in the world and it was the French fighter who won the intercontinental title and now will be one of the challengers for the world title.
The first world title fight saw Asia Pacific champion Yolanda Schmidt take on the current IFMA world champion Sveva Melillo, showcasing IFMA’s gender equality and this fight was one of the best fights of the night with both female athletes showing the entire muaythai arsenal over 5 rounds. It was a split decision down to the last point to the Italian athlete Sveva but it was also Yolanda that showcased her true respect even applauding the Italian champion even with such a close decision and the rematch is already in discussion.
The next fight was Thai fighter of the year and the champion from Thailand, Nattapon Saenkla against the current IFMA world champion Gusein Tagirovich Aliev from Russia. The Russian athlete made his way into the IFMA youth ranking being the 2 time IFMA youth world champion and winning the IFMA senior world champions only last year in December. This really shows the important youth development around the world and it was 5 rounds of outstanding performances by both athletes and in the end, it was a very close decision for Thailand but both fighters showed the highest respect and also showcased that the future of muaythai is very safe.
The next world title fight was another fight of the generations with the 3 times youth world champion and Pan American champion Bekah Irwin taking on the European and IFMA world champion Anaelle Angerville from France. Once again an outstanding performance and a very close fight with the former youth world champion showing her bright future in the sport, losing a very close decision against the current world champion.
The main fight of the night was between the intercontinental champion Ilyas Habibali from UAE and the Pan American champion Aaron Ortiz from the USA. This was the contest the audience had been waiting for and the atmosphere in the stadium was electrifying. The UAE intercontinental champion and former IFMA world champion really showcased his ambition on the evening to make himself and his country proud and from the beginning, it was an amazing contest. After 5 rounds of displaying all 5 weapons of muaythai, the decision went to the UAE fighter and the American athlete showed true sportsmanship and a rematch is already in discussion.
This was a true night of muaythai showcasing the five pillars of tradition, excellence, respect, honour and fair play bringing all 5 continents together on one unified platform at the World Expo. The event showcased the importance of proper youth development through the elite of muaythai.
Congratulations to the United Arab Muaythai Federation, IFMA the WMC and certainly the athletes that made this event unforgettable.