Kevin Ross: “I Want to Keep Muay Thai as Pure as Possible, and I Think That Will be Hard to do if it Gets too Popular.”
By Rick Caudle
Muay Thai champion Kevin “The Soul Assassin” Ross (26-9) spoke with Full Contact Fighter about his upcoming matchup with Chris Mauceri (6-2) at Lion Fight 15 at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT. on Friday, May 23.
Ross also discussed how Muay Thai’s growth in the U.S. is a double-edged sword and why he hasn’t tested himself in Glory kickboxing, where there is considerable opportunity for fighters with his skill set.
Q. I know you tore your ACL a year or so ago. Did the injury affect the way you fought after that?
A. In my first match after the injury, I was a little hesitant. It took me a while to work the kinks out. But the knee feels great now and is better than ever.
Q. I know you have fought some famous Thai Boxers during your career. Are there any plans to do that again in the future?
A. Yes, I want to fight the best of the best in the world, regardless of where they come from. I’ll fight guys from Thailand anytime. I’ll fight wherever and whoever they set me up with.
Q. Who is your favorite Thai boxer and why?
A. I love to watch Wangchannoi. He’s old school and he’s not concerned about winning or losing or his record. He just wants to give it his all every time. That’s how I want to be too.
Q. How long is your current contract with Lion Fight Promotions?
A. This is actually my second contract with them. We have this coming fight and the one in July lined up. After that final fight, we’ll renegotiate once again.
Q. I’m curious to why you aren’t fighting in Glory, where the paydays can be considerably higher, especially in tournaments, and the exposure on TV is much greater (Glory airs on Spike TV, which is available in 90 million homes and Lion Fight Promotions airs on AXS TV, which is available in 42 million homes)?
A. Muay Thai is my first love and will always be my preference, no matter what the pay is or anything else. It’s kept me in the sport as opposed to going to Boxing or MMA. I’ve been signed with Lion Fights for a while, but we had to work around some scheduling issues. I knew it was just a matter of time.
Q. Are you opposed to one-night tournaments?
A. I’m not opposed to tournaments. I’ve done some Muay Thai tournaments before and I’m sure I’ll do some in the future.
Q. Do Glory rules not suit your game?
A. Actually Glory rules suit me better in some ways. I’m a kickboxer but I have good hands and do more boxing than a lot of Muay Thai fighters do. I love to elbow people too!
Q. Ultimately, where would you like to see yourself in two years?
A. Right where I am now. I just want to keep getting better and keep fighting better people. I’m totally focused on constantly improving my skills and always trying to reach a higher level.
Q. We all know that Muay Thai is growing in popularity in the U.S. What are your thoughts about that?
A. Well, personally I don’t think it will be as big as MMA and I’m not sure I would want it to. It has grown a lot in the past 2 or 3 years and we now have to make a lot of sacrifices and adjustments.
Since we’re on TV, we can’t use the Thai music or do the Wai Kru or anything.
I know what we make is peanuts compared to Professional MMA and what they make is peanuts compared to Pro Boxing. I want to keep Muay Thai as pure as possible and I think that would be hard to do if it gets too popular.
Q. At this moment, the poll on the Lion Fight website has 79 votes for you to win and 126 for Chris Mauceri. Does that bother you at all?
A. (Laughs) I hate those polls. It’s just a popularity contest and they get people talking. I’m glad he has people rooting for him. It doesn’t bother me at all. The ones that vote usually don’t know much about fighting. But, I could care less.
Q. Do you have a prediction for Friday night?
A. I don’t like to predict fights. I can tell you this though. This is a big step for him and he can put his name on the map by fighting me. He’ll bring on the fight and I won’t have to go looking for him, which is great for me.