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Female championship fights in spotlight at Lion Fight 31
Jorina Baars, left, versus Angela Whitley during the main event.
Photos by Nicola Faraone and John Fulcher
By Brian Woodman Jr.
(Sept. 2 -- Mashantucket, CT)

    Live Muay Thai came returned to Foxwoods Resort Casino and the fighters came from across the world. Four of the five professional bouts on Lion Fight 31’s main card were title fights. All of the bouts, including the six amateur fights on the preliminary card, ended in unanimous decisions despite occasional differences in the judge’s scoring.
    The main event was a women’s welterweight championship bout that ended with champion Jorina Baars (41-0) retaining her belt. Baars, who rains out of SportsArt Den Helder in the Netherlands, clinched and exchanged strikes with opponent Angela Whitley (14-1) during a fight that increased in intensity by the end of the second round. But Whitley, who trains out of Thunder Muay Thai in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was bleeding from the forehead courtesy of a spinning elbow from Baars by the third round.
    Whitley, who was also bleeding from her nose, took Baars’ back during the clinch while dodging spinning elbows. Several high kicks also marked the fight.
    The main card opened with a light heavyweight bout between Brad Mountain (3-4) of Kaizen MMA and Brett Hlavacek (17-3) of New York City’s The WAT. Mountain, who trains out of Woodbridge, Virginia, tended to favor punching while Hlavacek throws more kicks and elbows. Hlavacek, who opened a cut in Mountain’s cheek during the second round, tossed his opponent during the cinch a few times during the bout, eventually securing a decision from the judges.
    The next bout was a women’s lightweight bout that ended with Antonina Shevchenko (37-1) of Lima, Peru retaining her belt. Shevchenko, who trains at Tiger Muay Thai Phuket, caught several of the kicks from challenger Paola Cappucci (46-10-1) and threw her. Cappucci, who trains out of the Brizon Gym in Florence, Italy, brought Shevchenko to the ground earlier in the fight but the champion dominated all the rounds.
    During another women’s championship bout, Jeri Sitzes (33-13) of Springfield, Missouri’s Budo Kai Fight Game Gym fought Iman Barlow (84-5) of the British gym Team Assissins for the vacant super bantamweight belt. Clinching and exchanges that increased in pace marked the first three rounds, with Sitzes throwing more punches and Barlow leaning toward kicks. Two judges awarded the fight to Barlow with a 50-45 score while the third one scored the fight 49-46.
    During the only male championship bout, Tum Sityodtong (76-22-3) of Thailand fought Gaston Bolanos (8-1) of Dublin, California for the lightweight belt. Sityodtong, who trains at the Winner Muay Thai Gym, was grinning oddly throughout the fight -- the joke was on him when referee Kevin Mulhall penalized him by one point during the third round.
    During the round, Sityodtong ate a spinning elbow from Bolanos -- a technique Bolanos tends to favor. Sityodtong tried to return the favor after the bell rang ad received the penalty. 
    Earlier in the fight, Sityodtong nearly kicked Bolanos while he was on the ground and received s warning. 
Sityodtong kicked Bolanos’ legs out from under him during the second round and generally dominated the fight in points despite sustaining some spectacular hits as the rounds ended. 
    Two of the judges scored the fight 48-45 in favor of Sityodtong while one scored it 49-44.

Tum Sityodtong, left, versus Gaston Bolanos at Foxwoods.
Photos by Nicola Faraone and John Fulcher
The preliminary results were:

Super Bantamweight: Ava Scheininger (1-0) of the UFC Gym and Hard Knocks defeated My Seppo (0-1) of Redline Sports. Both fighters train out of Boston.

Welterweight: Jerral Womack (2-1) of Plus One Defense (West Hartford, CT) defeated Manny Sanchez (1-1) of Valiant Martial Arts (Berlin, CT)

Light Heavyweight: J. Luck Henry (5-4), who also trains out of Hard Knocks, defeated Skye Soderberg (4-2-1) of Pride Martial Arts (South Kingston, Rhode Island).

Super Flyweight: Brandy Young (4-3), also who also Redline Fight Sports, defeated Marissa Messer-Belenchia (0-1) of Calandrelli MMA (New Haven, CT).

Heavyweight: Steve Walker (9-2), also of Hard Knocks, defeated Doug Holland (8-2-1) of Pride Martial Arts.

Lightweight: Mike Triana (14-4) of Team Link (Worcester, Massachusetts) defeated Steven Summers (6-5) of Sidthilaw Muay Thai & MMA (Nashville, Tennessee)