Muay Thai is Life was lucky enough to have a few friends on the ground in Suriname who were able to sit down with all 4 of the main event fighters: Nieky, Marco, Cyrus, and Michael to ask them a few questions. Also we were able to get a few exclusive pics of the weigh ins for the event, which can be seen in the gallery that follows the interview.
MTiL: First of all, thank you guys for taking the time before your big fights to speak with us here at Muay Thai is Life. Michael and Cyrus, although you are both American fighters, the majority of your careers have been spent fighting overseas. What do you feel are the major differences between competing overseas and competing in the United States? And while Muay Thai is experiencing growth in the U.S. and some American fighters, such as yourselves, are making waves globally, there is still the thought that American Muay Thai is weak…why do you think that thought persists?
Michael Corley: Fighting overseas you get a chance to compete against all different kinds of styles with Dutch, Muay Thai and all kinds of European and Asian styles.
More shows are starting to bring in international talent for US guys to compete against and it’s turning heads. And then there are the guys that are going out and fighting internationally and having good showings.
Cyrus Washington: I feel that thought is still spoken of because of the past. Myself, Michael Corely, and maybe 5 or 6 other top American fighters, American Muay Thai is strong as in any other country. The major difference between fighting in the US and over seas is the fact that more money and effort are put forth from both promoters and fighters. There is less commission involvement and more sanctioning bodies overseeing regulations.
MTiL: What do you think needs to change or needs to continue in the U.S. for the sport to grow and eventually reach a level that is on par with the best Muay Thai nations in the world?
Cyrus Washington: One thing that needs to change, and this is much easier to point out than to resolve, is the money. Promotions and fighters alike need better sponsors. If we can be promoted and therefore paid as MMA is, fighters could focus more on training full time and be able to rest properly, etc. Even more importantly, I feel the promoters in the USA are not focused on growing the sport nationwide. They focus on their city and thats it. I can not knock them for focusing on their local fighters but if the sport is going to grow they must start to think bigger. There are many more fighters across the country and bringing them and promoting them builds future ticket sales and builds the sport for tomorrow.
Michael Corley: I think we need to have more development of fighters. too many cards in the USA use the same guys over and over. We cant just have 1 guy for each weight class. We need depth to be at the level of other top countries.
MTiL: To Marco and Nieky, I wanted to ask you both a similar question: Previously the U.S. was seen as being fairly weak in Muay Thai but now we have quite a few fighters that are competing on the worldwide stage and have held events, such as the MPL where you both fought each other. Now you are both fighting Americans on a card in Suriname. What do you guys think of the current growth Muay Thai is experiencing in the U.S. and what do fighters in the U.S. need to do to catch up with the rest of the Muay Thai world?
Marco Pique: Muay Thai is getting bigger in the U.S.. You can see a lot of Thai trainers are moving to the U.S. to teach. What the U.S. fighters need to do to catch up is fight a lot around the world and experience all kinds of styles.
Nieky Holzken: It is good for the sport of Muay Thai that it is growing in the U.S., the problem for the USA is not a lack of talent, but organization. They have to organize in a big way for things to grow in America.
MTiL: Nieky, you are coming off big wins in the MPL where you currently lead your group as well as your weight division. Your last bout was with an up and coming talented American in Ky Hollenbeck. You are now facing another talented American in Cyrus Washington. What are your thoughts on Cyrus?
Nieky Holzken: I think Cyrus is a good fighter and it will be a hard fight. I feel very good right now. (SIDE NOTE FROM EDITOR – Nieky made it a point to speak English at the press conference so that Cyrus did not think he was trash talking. He told Cyrus he watched his fights and respects him and that it will be a good fight.)
MTiL: Marco, you spent time on the Challenger Muay Thai with your opponent Michael Corley although during the show you guys never faced each other, with that said, how did you guys get along on the show and what do you feel Michael brings to the table in this fight?
Marco Pique: Michael was a very nice guy on the Challenger show. I did not get to know him too well as he had to leave the show after the first episode. He had his first fight with [Vuyisile] Colossa.
MTiL: Cyrus and Michael, you guys are facing Nieky Holzken and Marco Pique respectively tomorrow December 23rd in Paramaribo, Suriname. Both Marco and Nieky are considered to be among the top Muay Thai/Kickboxers in their weight class and many have you as huge underdogs in your bouts, what are you both trying to take away from these bouts besides the win?
Cyrus Washington: I feel I have made a statement by fighting alongside and against some of the best fighters in the world. That has brought me to the status of World Champion. I am the WMF World Champion and I have also won a bare knuckle title! I came here to win just like everywhere else. I have traveled to fight. That is why I have won titles and so many matches. I will make sure that no matter what, that I fight well. I have my respect, I want more. I want it all! I dont mind playing the underdog. Nieky is an amzazing fighter. I’m really looking forward to fighting him!
Michael Corley: First and foremost I want to win! Aside from that I want to show the promoters, fighters, and fans that I can compete at this level.
MTiL: Having fought in Suriname myself, I found the country to be incredibly passionate about the sport and very supportive of not only its local fighters but those that come from abroad to compete, how has your experience been in Suriname so far?
Michael Corley: It has been a great experience. I did not have any idea what to expect coming here. The food is great and the people have been awesome. Everywhere we go people know about the fights. I want to put on a nice fight for these people. Im very happy to be involved in a little bit of Dutch Muay Thai/Kickboxing history in that Marco and I will be competing in the first ever full rules bout in Suriname history!
Cyrus Washington: Suriname is great! Up until four years ago I had never even heard of Suriname. Then I met a Dutch fighter while training at Siam in Thailand. This experience has been great and these memories will stick with me life long! It is really a beautiful place with beautiful people.
MTiL: Marco, you are originally from Suriname but compete all over the world. I fought in Suriname at the Anthony Nesty Sporthal over a year ago and I was very impressed by how big the sport is here. How does it feel to fight in front of your home crowd? And do you feel any added pressure when you fight back home?
Marco Pique: It feels incredible to fight in Suriname for my own people. Especially when I am introducing Full Thai Rules to the country (SIDE NOTE – Marco’s fight with Michael Corley will be the first Full Thai Rules bout in Suriname history). Of course I feel the pressure but I am used to it. Experience has tought me to handle my emotions.
MTiL: Nieky and Marco, what is next for both of you after these fights? With the MPL postponed until further notice, what is in store for you guys after the Klaar Om Te Bossen 3 show?
Nieky Holzken: I will defend my W.F.C.A. World Title against Yohan Lidon. It will be a very interesting match as we have very different styles.
Marco Pique: After this fight, I am scheduled for the Yokkao event in Italy on January 21st, it is a huge super show with a lot of big names. There I should fight Sudsakorn.
MTiL: Michael, you are scheduled to face off with Chike Lindsay in February at Bangkok Fight Nights in Atlanta…how does it feel to fight again on U.S. soil?
Michael Corley: Awesome man! It has been too long. Chike is a great fighter and it will be a good fight. I know that a lot of promoters do not know me, so this fight is sort of my introduction to the American public. That is important to me. A lot of my peers are getting much deserved attention in the USA now and I have spent nearly all of my acreer overseas. I’m really hoping this fight will open some doors for me domestically.
I think it would be really cool if they put their WBC belt on the line for this fight as well!
MTiL: Cyrus, what is next for you after this bout in Suriname with Nieky Holzken?
Cyrus Washington: I have a few weeks off coming and I plan on spending it with loved ones. After that, I will start my training camp for my WBC rematch with Stephen Richards in Feb.
Also I want to say thanks for the time and look out for www.dynamite-muaythai.com and God Bless!
MTiL: I wanted thank all of you guys for taking the time to speak with Muay Thai is Life! We definitely wish you all the best of luck in your bouts!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Special thanks to Eric Haycraft for his help in getting these talented fighters to sit down for an interview and grabbing these photo of the weigh ins.