Australia’s only women’s muay thai event returned to the Meat Market in North Melbourne on Sunday night as Sydney fighter Yolanda Schmidt beat Cairn’s based Kiri Bradley via referee stoppage late in the 5th round of their main event matchup.
Despite being a five round main event fight, neither Schmidt or Bradley started out slowly as is traditional in muay thai, with both women opening up strongly employing a high work rate and exchanging some great shots. A series of quality combinations and precise timing from Bradley opened the second round before Schmidt took the upper-hand later on with some high-quality boxing of her own.
As the third round progressed it was quite evident that this was a well-matched fight between two of Australia’s best female fighters with neither taking a backwards step, making it an entertaining fight for the fans in attendance. Towards the end of the round, Schmidt flicked a switch and went into auto-pilot, landing clean shot after shot and displaying such a well-rounded muay thai game that is rarely seen. A strong clinch, crisp punches and penetrating knees were more than enough to dominate the later rounds of the fight. While it seemed like Bradley had got a second wind as the fourth round started, Schmidt pushed forward landing clean shot after clean shot, resulting in a standing eight-count late into the round. The fifth round was much the same as the fourth with Schmidt dominating with a vast array of clean technique, before a well-timed flying knee and elbow combination resulted in the referee jumping in, putting a stop to the bout and awarding the win to Schmidt.
Also featuring on the night was a four-woman eliminator in which a selection of the best 57kg female fighters in the country competed against each other to crown the best on the night. In the first semi-final, Queensland’s Samantha Torrens lost a close split-points decision to Western Australia’s Alice Becklake. Despite the strong technical skill-set from Torrens, Becklake was able to adopt an aggressive game plan from the beginning of the fight, never allowing Torrens to settle into any kind of natural rhythm. Almost always second to each exchange due to the forward movement of Becklake, Torrens was unable to showcase her boxing skills and take an edge in the fight with Becklake landing some great kicks and dominating the clinch.
The second semi-final of the night was a matchup between Victorian World Muay Thai Council (WMC) Champion Pamela Ablang and Darwin based Bec Rooney. An aggressive start from Rooney in the first round was highlighted by strong push kicks and great boxing combinations, applying continuous pressure to Ablang. The second round followed the same strong pace seen in the first and Ablang managed to land some great kicks, which Rooney caught on a number of occasions, but was unable to land the crucial sweep. Rooney controlled the third round with her reach and strong knees in the clinch, eventually taking the fight via unanimous points decision.
The final of the four-woman tournament between Bec Rooney and Alice Becklake was a tight affair that again came down to the three judges in attendance on the night. Rooney had the clear height and reach advantage over Becklake and in the first round was able to land a series of clean and precise knees on Rooney, who in her own right did not take a backwards step and looked to employ the same tactics as she did against Torrens in her first fight. The second and third rounds of the fight were largely in the favour of Rooney as she stalked her opponent and continually applied pressure, landing some big right hands in the process. Becklake picked up the pace as the round came a close with some great high-low combinations, but ultimately Rooney had done enough, earning a split points decision and the tournament win.
In what is seen to be a heavily male-dominated sport, it’s refreshing to see a promotion with a clear focus on female athletes and the amazing skills they bring to the muay thai ring. Shows like Dynamite Naksoo Female Fight Tour serve as clear evidence that a renaissance of women’s muay thai is currently occurring in Australia and with the right guidance and support anything is possible.