Lanna Muay Thai Fighters Go To The TBA Classic World Muay Thai Expo 2017
By Ryan McKinnon
Des Moines, Iowa was host to 3 days of amazing amateur Muaythai this past
weekend, with Ontario fighters receiving top honours in various categories. Commonly
called the ʻTBAsʼ this tournament is in its 11th year, with talent from around the
continent coming to showcase their skills. This yearʼs event hosted 402 fights! Kevon,
Brenda, and Tyya, 3 of Lannaʼs rising stars made the 12-hour drive to Iowa with Kru
Jordan and competition team coach Tyler McKinnon to put their skills to the test against
some of North Americaʼs best nak muay. It was a weekend full of excitement and huge
learning experiences for our fighters and coaches.
The last time Lanna was part of the TBAs, the school was known as Lanna Muay
Thai. It has been almost 10 years since Lanna fighters went south of the border to
compete in the most popular amateur Muaythai tournament on the continent. Making a
return to the tournament is a gigantic accomplishment for a team that has been
relatively quiet before Kru Jordan. With a year full of accomplishments for all of Lannaʼs
fighters, the team was positioned to make a huge statement at the tournament.
Brenda ʻEl Gauchoʼ Vargas
In the ʻBʼ Class featherweight division, Brenda Vargas fought first for Lanna
against Talitha Lundgren, an opponent who was much bigger and taller. It was evident
from the opening of round 1 that Brenda had her work cut out for her as she tried to find
angles of attack to negate the reach and clinch advantage of her opponent. Throughout
the fight, Brenda found herself locked up in the clinch, or on the outside, looking for
ways to land her patented cross, left kick combination. Never out of the fight, Brenda
showed true heart and determination in her attempts to close the distance and turn the
fight in her favour. Unfortunately, her opponent was too overwhelming, and did a good
job of keeping Brenda guessing. It was a phenomenal experience for her, as Brenda
was exposed to someone she was unfamiliar with in both size and skill level. This fight
led her and the coaching staff to consider a change in weight class, where opponents
will be built more like her, and not so damn tall! Never one to make excuses, Brenda
realized that beyond her size disadvantage, sometimes things donʼt go your way, and
you have to accept that by getting back in the gym and sharpening your skills. We canʼt
wait to see her back in action with a newfound determination to take on top competition.
To check out some of Brenda’s other fights check out the breakdown of her performance at SheFights
In her Class ʻBʼ fight at bantamweight, Tyya took on Jessica Ventura from
Ayothaya Muay Thai Fitness Academy in Toronto, the team that won the trophy for most
points in the tournament. Tyya has truly evolved as a fighter, and was coming off a huge
win at the Muaythai Ontario Provincial Championship two weeks prior.
It was obvious from the start of the fight that Jessica and the coaching staff of
Ayothaya had studied Tyyaʼs forward-moving style, and her ability to create various
angles of attack. The gameplan against Tyya was to push forward and overpower her in
the clinch. Tyya showed tremendous heart as she engaged with Ventura, but
abandoned some of her most effective weapons by allowing herself to submit to her
opponentʼs game plan, leading to a decision loss. She didnʼt display the beautiful
muaythai that weʼre used to seeing from her. While this may be disappointing to some,
Tyya recognized her error immediately after the fight as an important learning
experience. With a move up to A class after this tournament, Tyya is fully aware of what
she can improve on to battle with the toughest class of competitors that muaythai has to
offer. She already has all of the intangible qualities that make for a champion nak muay.
Kevon ʻBadmonʼ Singh
After a disappointing loss at the provincials, Kevon came to Iowa determined to
prove to himself that he belongs in the ring with some of the continents top A class
In his first fight of the tournament in the ʻAʼ Class bantamweight division, Kevon
handily defeated last yearʼs champ and fighter of the tournament, Nick Robinson of The
Academy. Looking almost like he was shot out of a canon, Kevon immediately took
control of the fight, battling Robinson all over the ring. Kevon showed a lot of
improvement in his clinch game, and used his elite conditioning and pressure fighting
style to overwhelm his opponent.
On Sunday, Kevon competed for the bantamweight title against Emilio Pineda
from Florida Kickboxing Academy. Badmon had his work cut out for him against Pineda,
a former IFMA silver medallist.
Kevon utilized the same game plan as the one against Robinson, by pushing
forward with his attack, giving Pineda very little room to formulate his own attacks.
Kevon stood in front of his opponent and tried punching his way through the guard.
Early in the fight, Kevon used leg kicks and body knees to score effective points after
throwing hand combinations, but threw far less as the fight progressed. In rounds 2 and
3, Pineda, a very slick nak muay, began to figure out Kevonʼs angles of attack, and
began countering with elbows and other technique. It was an amazing display of pure
heart from Kevon, who lost by decision, but not before earning the respect of his
To read about some of Kevon’s previous fights check out his performance at Destiny.
It has been an outstanding year for Lanna fighters, and Iowa is no exception. A
loss is only a loss if you fail to learn the lessons that come from it. Our fighters and
coaches are constantly working to improve upon previous fights. There is no shortage of
hard work and willingness to learn from the team. Although our athletes didnʼt bring
home any hardware, their journey served as an important experience to remember and
share with the rest of the team. We all look forward to seeing them in future competition,
and return to Iowa next year with a brand new set of skills to employ.
A huge thank you to everyone who supported and donated resources to helping
our fighters make this trip a reality for them! Thank you for seeing the value in
supporting local amateur Muaythai, and the benefits it can have on an entire community.