Ten Red Deer kickboxers entered the ring at Cheney Martial Arts Winter Warfare IV at the Westerner Agricentre on Saturday night, but only four left the ring victorious.
Stephanie Essensa of Red Deer Arashi-do and her opponent Annie Lockhart of Regina put on an impressive display of technical Muay Thai skills in their 122-pound bout.
In the end Essensa’s hand speed, foot speed, and southpaw stance was too much for her Regina opponent as the Red Deer kickboxer posted the unanimous-decision win.
“That was the hardest fight I have had yet,” said the Canadian national ‘B’ team champion.
“It (her skills) helped me to actually play my distance wisely, because if I had stood in front of her it would have been a really close fight. But I was able to use distance and move in and out and because she fought kind of flat-footed, I was able to dictate the pace.”
Essensa had the edge in the first round, using her clinch well and countering well with her left hand.
In the third round she was able to pull away as she broke the Regina fighter’s rhythm.
“A lot of the stuff we (including coach Gary Vig) have worked on is breaking someone’s rhythm, feinting, and see how they react and making them miss,” said the 8-0 Essensa.
“I kind of figured out that she wasn’t picking up her foot speed at all, so it was easy to tell where she was going to be. So from there I was able to figure out where her range was and just play at the end of that.”
Cheney Karate’s Manuel Juarez made an impressive Red Deer kickboxing debut, putting on an excellent display of ring generalship, movement and boxing skills in posting a split-decision win over Travis Kleinfelder of Regina in the 190-pound category.
“I come from Spain and I previously have trained in a type of kickboxing without leg kicks, and Tai Kwan Do,” said Juarez.
“This is my first kickboxing fight, I have been training for a year in Lacombe but the leg kicks make a difference.
“In the town I used to train in Spain, there was a guy who went to the Olympic games for boxing, so I used to train with him and he helped me with the head movement.”
In the first fight of the evening, Red Deer Arashi-do kickboxer Wolfgang Janssen, 2-0, used his height and reach advantage to dominate Kurt Schonkneckt, 0-1, of Edmonton and get a unanimous-decision win.
Janssen was able to land his jab, lead hook, straight right and then rake the Edmonton fighter’s body with roundhouse kicks as the shorter athlete tried to close the distance.
“When I saw Kurt at the weigh-ins I saw he was shorter than me, and I had fought shorter guys previously but never really took advantage of my height,” said the five-foot-11 Janssen.
“So this time I really wanted to use my jab, move and move, and make him come into me and hurt him that way.”
The next win for Red Deer was an exact opposite, as Dave Crowley from Seven Stars Praying Mantis gave away four inches in height but used excellent strategy to beat Lloyd Visser of Lethbridge.
Crowley, in his first-ever kickboxing match, made his taller opponent come forward and miss, and then the Red Deer kickboxer countered with quick combinations and frustrated his taller opponent.
“My strategy was wait, work the leg kick, jump in and work the body and the head,” said Crowley, 1-0.
Red Deer’s Clint Robison of Cheney Karate, in the fight of the night, used his karate skills to win the first round of his bout against Shawn Whitehall of Edmonton, and then found himself in a brawl the next two rounds and it probably cost him the fight as he lost a split-decision to the Edmonton fighter.
In other action involving Red Deer kickboxers, Dean Rose of Cheney Karate lost by third-round referee-stops-contest to Edmonton’s Justin Wong in the 165 pound division; Travis Osmond, also of Cheney, lost by unanimous decision to Dustin Bertrand of Edmonton in the 135 pound category; in the 145-pound division, Ramin Rezai of Red Deer Arashi-do lost by unanimous decision to Cody Earp of Dawson Creek, B.C.; in a light-heavyweight bout, independent fighter Jesse Vogt of Red Deer lost by unanimous decision to Paul Rokosh of Edmonton; and Scott Allen of Seven Stars lost by split-decision to Edmonton’s Brian Kong in a light-heavyweight contest.