America is quite the dark horse when it comes to Muay Thai. Most people’s minds gravitate towards Europe (the Netherlands, France, and the UK, specifically), when thinking of elite, non-Thai fighters, otherwise dubbed Muay Farang.
It is my hopes, though, that I can divert some of this attention to American Muay Thai by highlighting some of the countries top fighters. With due patience, I’ll dispel the notion that America is the small fry of the Muay Thai world. And if I fall short of that, at least I can illustrate just how tasty that small fry actually is.
Now, here is my list of the top American Muay Thai fighters, minus any hierarchical order:
Now this a fighter I hope you’re already familiar with. Ranked number one in the USA, Topic has captured the following titles: WKA North American Lightweight Title, WBC Muay Thai North American Super Featherweight Title, IKF Lightweight World Title, Muay Thai Grand Prix Lightweight World Title, Lion Fight Lightweight World Champion.
Topic has competed in Lumpinee, Rajadamnern, and MAX Muay Thai stadium. Thais he has fought include Saenchai, Paowarit Sasiprapa, Rungravee Sasiprapa, Dechsakda Sitsongpeenong, Saemapetch Fairtex, Coke Chunhawat, and many more.
Stylistically, Topic fights as traditional as it gets. His effective use of fakes and feints, however, add a trickster element into the mix. Let’s say, that if in one of Topic’s previous fights against a Thai opponent, all you saw were silhouettes, it’d be almost impossible to discern who was the Westerner.
Born in Bosnia, Topic fled to Serbia and then emigrated to America at age 9 to avoid the fallout of the Yugoslav Wars. Topic trains out of North Jersey Muay thai, the same gym he started at in 2005. He has also spent time at PK. Saenchai Gym and Eminent Air Gym in Thailand.
A true pioneer of American Muay Thai, Ross aka “The Soul Assassin” has inspired a generation of American prospects to take up the sport. His is an admirable story, one of the underdog: Going from a self-destructive, alcoholic, who got a late start to the sport at 23, to winning multiple titles and facing some of the best of the sport
Thai opponents Ross has fought include Malaipet, Coke Chunhawat, Sittisak, Sagetdao, and even Saenchai, who considers Ross an “A-Class Fighter”. Ross combines a strong traditional style with heavy forward pressure and sharp boxing, having been trained at Master Toddy’s and CSA gym.
Ross’s story, along with his utter grit, heart, and willingness to fight anyone regardless of record, has made him one of Americas most highly regarded Nak Muays. Training out of Boxing Works with Bryan Popejoy and The Boxing Club in San Diego, Ross is hoping to compete again ASAP.
Meet Janet Todd, a professional Muay Thai fighter who also works as a full time aerospace engineer. Todd had an interesting start into competition, having won her first fight via TKO in 2009, then winning an amateur title in her next fight, four years later, after taking time off to finish her degree.
From then on, Todd would win a staggering amount of amateur titles, totaling 12 in all, and become a two-time Pan-American Muay Thai Champion. Competing in the IFMA World Games four times and the Pan Americans twice gave her invaluable experience, as she was forced to adapt to international competition and the varying styles that come with it.
This background would lay the foundation for Todd’s professional career and the culmination of it so far– her win against the one and only Stamp Fairtex in One Championship. Todd showed much skill and promise in the first match (of two), but would lose via unanimous decision.
After this, Todd won three fights in a row to get the rematch, defeat Stamp, and gain the ONE Atomweight Kickboxing World Title. This was a serious upset, and a testament to the heights that American Muay Thai has reached.
A sharp, fast, and very technically sound fighter, make sure you keep an eye out for Todd, who trains out of Boxing Works under Byran Popejoy.
Eddie Abasolo didn’t get the nickname Silk-E-Smooth for nothing. He is a master at fluidity and flow, and makes high level fighting look all too easy. It’s uncanny how relaxed and composed he remains in the heat of battle; it’s as if he’s just hitting the heavy bag but with a live opponent.
Strong eyes and a high IQ allow him to implement a supremely tricky style. As Lawren Kenshin from the YouTube channel, Striking Breakdowns, notes, “Eddie Abasolo is the only matrix style Muay Thai fighter to be produced in the USA.”
Everything about Abasolo is unconventional, from his training methods to the way he fights. Take a quick glance at his Instagram, and you’ll know what I mean. Who stands on a balance board while simultaneously hula hooping? Eddie Abasolo does.
He often fights with a loose guard and employs a lot of risky head movement, all while remaining bone-chillingly calm. Through all the unconventionally, though, Abasolo makes it work, and then some.
I could tell you just how effortless his flow is when he fights, or you could watch one of his bouts. The latter is really the only way to truly comprehend what words can’t fully express. Abasolo is the WBC, MTG, and IKF World Champion.
He fights out of CSA gym, and although his record isn’t exactly jaw dropping (11-3), Abasolo is certainly a prospect you should keep an eye out for.
Here we have another killer out of CSA gym. Originally from Lima, Peru, Bolanos got an early start into martial arts. At age 11 he started Muay Thai, and had his first fight at 12. Three years later he moved to the United States.
As an amateur Bolanos was so good, that at age 16, he lied about his age to get further experience because he ran through all junior competition. In other words, he was fighting grown men as a teen, accumulating an amateur career of 23-3 before turning pro.
In his pro debut, Bolanos scored a beautiful spinning elbow TKO against Brian Del Rosario in Lion Fight. Out of his 8 wins in professional Muay Thai, he has 7 knockouts, 5 coming way of spinning elbow. Indeed, there is perhaps nobody who uses such a weapon better. As his coach, Kirian Fitzgibbons notes,” Jon Jones doesn’t knock people out with spinning elbows because he doesn’t time them correctly. Bolanos does.”
Bolanos has also successfully transitioned into both kickboxing and MMA, scoring highlight reel worthy knockouts in both sports. In Bellator MMA, he was voted for knockout of year in 2017 (you guessed it, by spinning elbow).
Bolanos is a three time amateur Muay Thai champion, winning two belts in South America and one in the U.S, and is also a pro WMC South American Champion at 140 pounds.
Tiffany Van Soest
Known as the “Time Bomb”, Van Soest is an explosive, unorthodox fighter who succeeds at blending multiple styles together. She does not fight traditionally, although she can fall upon that foundation when needed. Rather, her style is one of constant motion and rhythm.
Her use of footwork, angles, and stance switches makes her hard to hit and simultaneously creates advantageous openings. She actually attributes much of her footwork to years of soccer competition.
Van Soest has fought tough competition from all over the world. She is a three time world champion in Muay Thai, with the brunt of her experience coming from Lion Fight. A three sport athlete, Van Soest has also made the transition to MMA (Invicta FC) and Kickboxing (GLORY).
Because of her kickboxing oriented style, the transition to GLORY has been smooth and successful. Van Soest holds the Glory Super Bantamweight Title, and makes her return to the Glory ring on the 30th of this month.
Asa Ten Pow
Asa Ten Pow, “The American Ninja”, is not one to shy away from flashy techniques. Spinning back kicks, heel hooks, axe kicks, flying knees, he’s got it all. To accompany this wide arsenal, Ten Pow also has solid boxing, having won the Florida State Golden Gloves. Additionally, his Muay Thai fundamentals are solid as well, with great teeps and roundhouses.
Most importantly, Ten Pow excels at distance management, which ties all his skills together. To say he got an early start into martial arts might be an understatement, starting Kung Fu at age 5.
Establishing quite the amateur career, Ten Pow racked up 41 wins with 10 losses. Most of these were Muay Thai and kickboxing, with some MMA and boxing bouts as well. Ten Pow has also faced international competition, fighting with Team USA for IFMA PRO/AM tournaments in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
He has captured the ISKA, IKF and the Thai Boxing Association tournament belts. As a pro, Ten Pow fought in Lumpini Stadium and on Muay Thai icon Buakaw’s All-Star promotion. With a record of four wins and one loss as a pro, he then made the successful transition to Glory Kickboxing, winning six fights in a row. Ten Pow owns Florida Kickboxing Academy, where he trains and also teaches.
Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu
From humble beginnings to the stuff of legends: Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu is in a league entirely of her own. Born in Boulder, Colorado, Sylvie started training at age 24 in 2008, under a then 70-year old Thai man, Kumron Vaitayanon (Master K), in his infamous basement-made gym.
A year later, in 2009, Sylvie had her first amateur bout. It didn’t take long, though, for Sylvie to realize that opportunities for fights were sparse in the states, especially at her weight (46 kg). Consequently, she made a trip to Thailand in 2010.
That trip turned into a permanent stay, and an aspiration to do 10 fights turned into 50, then 100, and so on. Right now, Sylvie has over 260 fights, which means she averages about 36 fights a year. This is the record for most fights for a foreigner, male or female. If that isn’t wild enough, she plans to break the record for most professional fights ever (473, Len Wickwar).
A Muay Khao style fighter, Sylvie excels in the clinch, is deadly with her knees, and uses constant forward pressure to break her opponents down. In the Thai newspapers, her nickname appears as “Sao Nakleng Khao”, or Miss Gangster knee.
When one effectively adopts the moniker, “The Muay Thai Guy”, they better encapsulate and embody Muay Thai to a strong degree. And this is exactly what Sean Fagan does. Most people probably know him as a content creator. Whether it’s his Muay Thai Guy blog, YouTube channel or his online training courses at Nak Muay Nation, Fagan is constantly cranking out high-quality content covering all aspects of Muay Thai.
Along with that, he hosts “Muay Thai Vacations“ and does the “Muay Thai Guys Podcast”. Being such a successful entrepreneur, it’s easy to forget that Fagan is also a fighter. He has won two amateur championships, fought in Lion Fight, and captured a title at Madison Square Garden.
More importantly, though, Fagan has competed against, defeated, and knocked out Thais with much more experience than him. Fagan is technically sound all around, but is especially effective with his punches and low kicks, and often likes to switch stances.
Balancing fighting with entrepreneurship, all while simultaneously spreading the knowledge of Muay Thai to the masses, is a feat worthy of great praise.
The youngest of anyone mentioned so far, Irwin, at the age of 20, represents the new wave of American Muay Thai. Having her first fight in the states at 15, Irwin wasted no time and traveled to Thailand a year later to compete against serious Thai competition.
Among her achievements as a youth, perhaps the most notable is winning the IFMA World Youth Championships three years in a row (2016, 2017 and 2018). Moreover, she did not lose a single round in any of those fights in each of the respective tournaments.
In the 2017 tournament, Irwin won all three bouts by knockout. Two of those KOs were from her infamous head kick. She is also the first American to win two gold medals in the IFMAS.
Irwin likes to strike on the outside, utilizing her long limbs, and is especially strong with her body and head kicks. When making the move to GLORY, Irwin remarked how the new rules would actually favor her style, as she much prefers to strike than clinch. And the switch has indeed been successful for Irwin, who is 3-0 in Glory.
Irwin trains out of Heritage Muay Thai in Houston, Texas, under the renowned Michael Chase Corley. With a full future ahead of her, Irwin should certainly be on your radar.
Now, who else would you add to the list?