This year, The Cellar Gym brought 13 Muay Thai fighters to Des Moines, IA for the 2022 TBA Classic Muay Thai World Expo! In total, our team went 12-9 on the weekend and celebrated three 2022 TBA champions: Sam Bailey, Jess Prewett, and Johnny Lee.
Sam made his Muay Thai debut at TBA this year and faced a full 32-man bracket for a total of five fights in four days. Sam fought twice in the Thursday elimination round; he won both fights by 1st round TKO using impressive boxing, body kicks, and ring control. He blasted through the quarterfinals with another 1st round TKO, and faced a formidable opponent in the Saturday semifinals in a 3-round war. On Sunday, Sam had a grueling championship fight against a very tough and skilled opponent, but Sam gave everything he had and scored two 8-counts to win the 2022 Men’s C Class Welterweight title!
Sam also received one of five “Best Fighter” awards given during the tournament! This is an award that is hand-picked by Ajarn Chai (founder of the World Thai Boxing Association) and is only given to a handful of fighters. Sam went 5-0 this weekend with 3 wins by KO. Since the TBA Classic recently increased brackets to 32-man divisions, Sam is the first Cellar fighter to win 5 fights in a weekend. Congratulations Sam! What an honor!
Jess kicked off our team’s Friday quarterfinals with a great performance displaying excellent ring control and pressure along with a solid clinch. In the Saturday semifinals, Jess got the win in a crazy war of boxing, elbows, and knees. Both she and her opponent gave it their all, but Jess landed the more significant strikes to earn the victory. What a battle!!
In the finals, Jess faced a tough and technical fighter, but made smart adjustments mid-fight to counter her opponent’s strategy and land punishing punches, elbows, and knees. Jess took the unanimous decision to win the 2022 Ladies C Class Welterweight title! Congratulations Jess, great work!
Junior fighter Johnny Lee made his Muay Thai debut in the Sunday finals and won by 1st round TKO via 3x knockdown rule! This tournament is emotionally draining… to amplify that, this was Johnny’s first-ever fight, he had to wait all week for his turn, and we made him eat food non-stop because he was below his weight class! He went out there on a mission and got the job done with great punches, strong kicks, and some scary elbows to secure the Junior Boys C Class Light Heavyweight title! Congratulations Johnny!
Kailey won her first fight of the weekend in the Saturday semifinals, using great forward pressure and brutal low kicks. In the finals, she faced an aggressive opponent but fought through adversity and battled back to win the final round. Although Kailey lost by decision, she showed so much heart and is an inspiration to us all. We are so proud of you Kailey, great job!
Brian had a hard-fought battle of interesting styles in the Saturday semifinals, and made good adjustments to improve every round and win the judges’ decision. He fought like a warrior in the finals, but lost via TKO. We’ve got some small things to work on in training, but he has come so far from where he was at last year’s tournament. We’re proud of you Brian!
Matt C. showed an impressive technical display of skill in his quarterfinal bout on Friday, securing a win by 2nd round TKO via knee strikes. In the semifinals, Matt and his opponent left nothing in their tanks after a 3-round battle of high kicks, spinning elbows, and strong punches against each other. It was close, close, close and amazing to watch! But the decision didn’t go our way. Incredible job Matt; we’re so proud of you!
In the quarterfinals, Grady fought an awesome fight against a tough opponent with a giant-like frame. It was a back-and-forth battle with both fighters having great moments. Unfortunately Grady came up a bit short on the scorecards, but it was still a fight to be proud of. Great job, Grady!
Star fought a great fight in the Friday quarterfinals. It was a back and forth battle with both fighters emptying their gas tanks; unfortunately, Star came up short on the scorecards. Star put in a lot of work during this camp, and this was his Muay Thai debut – we look forward to seeing him fight again very soon!
C.J. came out strong in the first round against a highly skilled and experienced opponent in Thursday’s elimination fights. Although C.J. landed many devastating punches and showed good ring control, he took a damaging knee to the liver that changed the momentum of the fight.
Early in the 2nd round, C.J. got dropped by a solid punch to the chin. While taking the 8-count, he didn’t follow the referee’s instructions and the fight was stopped. Although we feel that the call was slightly too early, we understand and respect the ref’s decision to prioritize fighter safety. C.J. showed great growth and improvements during this camp, and we look forward to seeing him back in action soon.
Xavier made his Muay Thai debut this weekend and lost by decision. Because of his boxing experience, Xavier fought in the B class division. He had an awesome fight, and although he will leave this event with lots of lessons, he also had some excellent exchanges against a very skilled and technical opponent. Good work, Xavier!
Javier had a tough loss on Thursday, in the 2nd round by KO. He was landing some great strikes throughout the fight, but it wasn’t enough to control distance against a talented and larger fighter. We will make some adjustments and Javier will be back next year to win this tournament.
Matt W. made his Muay Thai debut this weekend. He came out strong in the first round, but got caught with a great punch by his opponent that changed his game plan, and he lost by TKO. This was Matt’s first fight camp, and he is a consistent hard worker in the gym. We will continue to make improvements and get him back in action.
Linda is an inspiration to all of us on the team! Linda is one of just a few fighters who registered in this year’s Senior+ division (55+) and put in countless hours of daily training, running, strength & conditioning, and much more. Unfortunately, no other fighters registered in Linda’s division and she was not able to fight at this event. However, she was a constant pillar of support for all of our fighters through a long and grueling tournament, and we are so grateful for Linda’s determination and positivity. We will be seeing her in the ring soon!
The level of competition at TBA this year was very intense, with impressive fighters of all experience levels attending from gyms all over North America. We are incredibly proud of all our fighters this year for their commitment to training and to supporting each other. Great job, everyone!!