‘The Surgeon’ aiming to take scalpel to Lion Fight 35 foe
Things couldn’t have gone much better for Chip Moraza-Pollard when the made his first foray into the Lion Fight ring.
Not only did “The Surgeon” operate at a high level, he looked every bit the part of an accomplished Muay Thai practitioner as he precisely worked his way to a one-sided victory over Brett Hlavacek at Lion Fight 33 last November. Now the trick is to repeat that type of performance as he makes his return to action at Lion Fight 35 coming up on Friday, March 3 at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
Moraza-Pollard’s clash with Scott “King Nomad” Noble is a featured fixture on the main card that will air live on AXS TV Fights in the United States as well as on Fight Network throughout Canada, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
A seasoned mixed martial competitor, Moraza-Pollard elected last year to return to his striking roots and take his best skills into the Muay Thai combat arena. It was evidently an extremely wise move. As he put the finishing touches on a clear-cut verdict against Hlavacek, AXS TV Fights’ renowned commentator Michael “The Voice” Schiavello called his showing “…the best performance I have seen from a guy with one fight in this sport. He’s fighting like a guy with 50 or 60 fights under his belt. I am blown away by how good Moraza-Pollard’s Muay Thai is.”
The lofty accolades were taken with great humility.
“The recognition and praise was great and much appreciated,” reflected Moraza-Pollard. “I’d been looking to switch from MMA to striking for a long time so it was awesome for people to finally see what I can do in the ring.
“Of course I’m happy with my performance. Getting a win against such an experienced and dangerous opponent in my first pro Muay Thai fight was very satisfying. At the same time, there’s improvements to be made and a lot that I’m capable of that I didn’t get to showcase in that fight.”
The 28-year-old from Plymouth, Massachusetts, is one of a handful of veteran MMA fighters who have opted to make the switch to Muay Thai fighting in order to utilize their best weapons. Many high-level strikers like Moraza-Pollard and Anthony Njokuani, who earned a second-round knockout at Lion Fight 34 just a few weeks ago in Las Vegas, want to make a final run in combat sports by showcasing their punching and kicking prowess without the fear and grind of dealing with takedowns and submissions.
Moraza-Pollard, who was 10-9 in mixed martial arts most notably competing for Bellator MMA, is at the forefront of this revolution which suits him just fine.
“I love to see guys like myself make the switch from MMA to Muay Thai or kickboxing,” he said. “Not everyone is in love with the MMA game and those guys can really flourish in a setting where they don’t have to worry about takedowns or grappling. Plus it exposes those fighters’ fans to pro Muay Thai, maybe for the first time which is good for the sports expansion and popularity.”
It might be early to consider Moraza-Pollard a contender for a title yet that doesn’t seem to be an entirely unreasonable expectation. First things first, however, and for Moraza-Pollard that means getting past Noble in convincing fashion.
“I know that my opponent has some MMA and striking experience and is a talented athlete,” said Moraza-Pollard. “I feel like my advantages are the same in every fight which is my ability to adapt to whoever is in front of me.
“I never look beyond my next fight, but if I keep performing the way I’m capable of, the sky is the limit.”
Topping the Lion Fight 35 card is a pair of title bouts, including the main event which will see two-division champion “Smokin” Jo Nattawut put his super welterweight belt on the line against Kengsiam Nor Sripueng. In the other championship matchup, reigning women’s lightweight queen Antonina “The Panther” Shevchenko defends her crown against France’s Magali Foroni.