[CES Presss Release]
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Aug. 2nd, 2016) -- It's one of the more unorthodox title fights you'll ever see, a rematch between two fighters who say they don't believe in rematches with the champion, not the challenger, carrying the bigger chip on his shoulder.
Woonsocket, R.I., native Andre Soukhamthath (10-3, 6 KOs), now fighting out of Boca Raton, Fla., defends his CES MMA Bantamweight Title for the first time Friday, Aug. 12th, 2016 against Cambridge, Mass., vet Kin Moy (8-2, 2 KOs) in the main event of "CES MMA 37" live on AXS TV from Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., a rematch of their back-and-forth war in January of 2014 in which Moy won by unanimous decision.
Two and a half years later, Soukhamthath, not Moy, is CES MMA's inaugural bantamweight champion -- the region's highest honor in his weight class -- after beating Kody Nordby in March, while Moy is hoping to keep the momentum going following back-to-back wins in 2015 with Bellator.
Having already beaten Soukhamthath once, Moy would've had no reason to grant his adversary a rematch were it not for the possibility of snagging Soukhamthath's CES MMA title, which is the only real incentive to step back into the cage with a fighter he admits is a "real champion" and a "devastating" striker.
"I've never asked for a rematch against someone who's beaten me because if this were real martial arts," Moy said, "I'd be dead."
Though Soukhamthath isn't playing the "revenge" angle in next Friday's rematch with Moy, the reigning champ, who also says, "I don't look for fights and I don't go around saying, 'I want a rematch!'" is still a bit sour over the fact Moy called him out prior to their first meeting in 2014.
"They had to find a late replacement and they wanted to fight me in two weeks and I still took it because I'm a man," Soukhamthath said. "I don't back down from fights.
"I guess they called the matchmaker and said they wanted to fight me. If I wanted to fight somebody I'd call him face to face and say, 'Hey, I want to fight you.' That's it."
"We had been pushing to fight Andre for a while," recalled Moy, "because, as I said back then, he was the best and I wanted to challenge the best. That's why I was pushing it so hard."
Moy got his wish and delivered, pressuring Soukhamthath from the opening bell and outworking him on the ground to earn the win, which, at the time, was Soukhamthath's first loss in two and a half years, snapping his seven-fight win streak.
"I was expecting us to stand there and beat the shit out of each other," Moy said. "The big thing was I had to get in his face, because I had watched Andre fight many times before that and if you give him time or give him the space and respect to get his game going, he's going to pick you apart.
"He's got devastating strikes, but he needs room for those, so I got in his face from the get-go. The second I got in his face and he couldn't strike with me, he started shooting for a takedown. He's a much better wrestler than I am, but on the ground I'm always active, striking from the bottom, or top, or wherever I am. I was able to outhustle him and push the pace until he started to fade and that's when I really came alive."
Those strikes on the ground -- "baby punches," as Soukhamthath calls them -- were ultimately the difference in the outcome, but Soukhamthath says he doesn't plan on doing anything different in next Friday's rematch, which falls in line with what Moy feels is a consistent approach from his opponent on a fight-by-fight basis.
"To be honest, I think he does the exact same thing he did before, but he just does it better," Moy said. "Kody Nordby is an amazing grappler and quite the wrestler, and I was impressed with the way Andre stopped him every time.
"Traditionally, he's had good takedown defense anyway and against great grapplers like Kurt Chase-Patrick and Blair Tugman, Andre was able to stuff the takedowns, so while he's gotten sharper, I don't think he's changed much.
"On the one hand, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, but on the other hand I know I for one have made leaps and bounds in terms of not just the efficacy of my style, but what I do is completely different than when we fought before. Despite the fact he's grown, he looks pretty much the same in my opinion."
While Soukhamthath acknowledges he's a better fighter now than he was in January of 2014, he still plans on "bullying" Moy the way he bullied Nordby in March, a heated rivalry that ended with Soukhamthath knocking out his opponent with a flying knee in the fifth and final round.
Though he may not have changed much stylistically, Soukhamthath is clearly more mature and more capable of handling pressure in and out of the cage, as evident by how he channeled his anger toward Nordby and fought a near-perfect fight on the biggest stage of his career.
"At the end of the day, I'm still a fighter. I'll always be a fighter," he said. "I don't get emotional in my fights anymore. At the end of the day, I know I'm a better fighter than a lot of these guys on the regional circuit and I knew I was way better than Kody. He wrestled his whole life, he was an All-American -- whatever. I still outwrestled him and I never wrestled a day in my life. The only wrestling I ever did was in MMA and I still outwrestled him. I don't let those things get to me.
"When people talk, they talk because they're insecure. That just gives me confidence when I know they're insecure."
The fact Soukhamthath is still on top of his weight class in the northeast despite losing to Moy the first time around adds a rare twist to Friday's highly anticipated rematch. The irony isn't lost on Moy, who once again finds himself chasing down the proverbial top dog in an attempt to stake his own claim as the region's No. 1 bantamweight.
"I generally don't give rematches to people I've beaten, but this is for the title and that makes all the difference," Moy said. "I honestly feel that because it's been so long ago Andre has both improved his skill level and he's done some great things between now and then. It's deserved. If anything, it's me coming at him, not vice-versa, because he's the champion.
"That's who I want to test myself against. These are similar circumstances. He's the one with the belt and he's the one I want to beat."
Tickets for "CES MMA 37" are priced at $40.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesmma.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
The Soukhamthath-Moy rematch is one of three, five-round title fights on the televised main card. Stafford Springs, Conn., vet Matt Bessette (19-7, 5 KOs) battles Stephen Cervantes (6-1) of Albuquerque, N.M., for the vacant CES MMA Featherweight Title and Providence's Greg Rebello (20-6, 12 KOs) faces Oklahoma's Ashley Gooch (9-4, 6 KOs) for the vacant CES MMA Heavyweight Title.
Also on the AXS TV main card, middleweight Chuck O'Neil (16-8, 5 KOs) of Bourne, Mass., faces Roy Jones (7-4, 3 KOs) of Waterloo, Iowa, and featherweight Joe Pingitore (6-2-1, 2 KOs) of Johnston, R.I., returns to network television for the fourth time when he faces Bill Jones (12-10, 3 KOs) of Somersworth, N.H.
The preliminary card features four exciting bouts, highlighted by a middleweight showdown between Berkeley, Mass., vet Pat McCrohan (2-0, 1 KO) and Russian Ruslan Melikov (3-1), fighting out of Fairfield, N.J. Providence bantamweight Marquis Brewster (1-0) faces Turtle Creek, Pa., native Roosevelt Archie (0-1); Boston lightweight Devin Carrier (1-1, 1 KO) battles Holbrook, Mass., native Connor Barry (1-0); and Dylan Lockard of Derry, N.H., makes his professional debut against Seldon, N.Y., featherweight Mak Kelleher (1-2). Quincy, Mass., middleweight Mike Rodriguez (3-1, 1 KO) will be featured in a separate three-round bout against an opponent to be determined.
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-- CES --