Nakamoto defeats Kitchen in a WCK Champion of Champions World Title fight

Saturday night, at the Pala Casino & Resort, WCK Muay Thai featured a duel between Julie Kitchen (r) and Miriam Nakamoto (l) with Nakamoto winning by a unanimous decision.

It’s certainly getting tougher and tougher to please local sports fans. Saturday night is a good example. They were forced to choose between the following hot tickets: the Muay Thai Show at the Pala Casino, an MMA show at the Sports Arena and finally the San Diego Chargers playing a home game at Qualcomm Stadium.


At Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley, San Diego, Calif. there was a 28-20 shootout occurring between the Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo and the Chargers QB Philip Rivers who miraculously managed to come away with the victory despite throwing two interceptions.

If you’re the type who likes your excitement to be over and done within the blink of an eye, the MMA would certainly serve your purpose. At the Sports Arena in Point Loma, there was Strikeforce bantamweight champ Rhonda Rousey keeping her unbeaten streak alive by getting Sarah Kaufman to submit by way of an Armbar in less than a minute.

Rousey is shown applying her patented Armbar to her latest victim Sarah Kaufman.

More than adequate in both Judo and Jiu Jitsu, apparently her opponents are not. That is now nine Armbar finishes in nine mixed martial arts fights for the former Olympic bronze medalist in Judo. Of those nine victories, eight came inside the first minute of the bout. One critic mentioned: “They should save themselves some money and start paying Rhonda Rousey by the hour.”

On the undercard of that Rousey vs. Kaufmann fight was Tarec Saffiedine of Team Quest, Temecula defeating Roger Bowling and ironically, here we see Miesha Tate defeating Julie Kedzie by Armbar.

Miesha Tate applied the Armbar to Julie Kedzie, on Saturday night, August 18, 2012 at the very same venue, the Sports Arena in Point Loma, San Diego, California.

When you add boxing gloves and eliminate the choke holds plus the stretching of ligaments, you’re going to have a more tried and true test of one’s superiority over another Mixed Martial Artist.

On that day, this reporter decided to go to the WCK Champion of Champions event at the Pala Casino & Resort just north of San Diego in Pala, Calif. and here’s why:

Kru Ruben Rowell (r) waits with his fighter Andrew Gabriel in the dressing area prior to the start of Bout #1 in the WCK Champion of Champions Muythai Show at the Pala Casino and Resort, Saturday, August 18, 2012.

Bout #1 was a three round IAMTF California Super Welterweight bout between Andre Alvarado and Andrew Gabriel of the Extreme Power Gym in Oceanside, CA. Gabriel looked spectacular in this one, kicking and striking his way to an unanimous decision victory.

After his hard fought victory over Ernie Gutierrez, Dave Pacheco was surrounded by well wishers. All photos Jim Wyatt

Bout #2 was a four round IAMTF California Super Middleweight Title bout between USKO’s Dave Pacheco and Ernie Gutierrez of Team Valdez.

After dominating Gutierrez in round one, Pacheco found himself in one hotly contested exchange after another. At one point a high kick to his head followed by an overhand right had the Pacheco backers worried. In the end, it was the accumulation of scoring blows that gave the younger Pacheco his unanimous decision victory.

In Bout #3, Chris Culley (r) got the win over Raul Rodriguez.

Bout #3 was the first of two qualifying bouts for this year’s WKN Belarus Big 8 North American Welterweight Qualifier Tournament, a show to be held sometime in November of this year.

In this one, the veteran Raul Rodriguez from Bakersfield, CA (10-0) was expected to have no problem defeating the up and comer Chris Culley from the Bullet Hole Gym in Barstow, CA. After all, the rather lanky framed Culley was making his pro debut.


In Round one, everything seemed to be going as forecast. Rodriguez’s hard kicks and strikes had Culley backing up. Then, as the fight progressed, surprise, surprise, so did Culley’s confidence. Soon, his kicks and counter punching were reaching their target. In the end, the bigger, tough guy went down to defeat by the upstart who proved to be quicker and had more stamina.

Bout #4 winner Artem Sharoshkin is joined by his sister Irena Boostani and three of the coaches from his gym after his victory over the very tough Joe Davidson. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #4

The second qualifying bout of the Big 8 North American Welterweight Qualifier Tournament featured Joe Davidson (4-2, 2 KOs) going up against Artem Sharoshkin (2-1-1).

The entire fight was scary good with every known kick and every known punch being employed. The only thing you could hang your hat on was the fact that Sharoshkin was the better striker and Davidson the better kicker. It was up to the three judges to show their preference and they went with the puncher, Sharoshkin. All three judges scored the bout 29-28 for Sharoshkin in this closest of decisions.

Bout #5, a three round IAMTF Female Flyweight contest featured Marie “The Angry Korean” Choi (4-1-1) from Irvine, Calif. taking on the shorter Gabriella Carrillo of Tecate, B. C., Mexico. Despite the noticeable difference in size, Carrillo won the match by being the quicker, more accurate striker and kicker. The way Choi was fighting, you had to figure she’s been moonlighting in the world of MMA. Every time she grabbed or clinched with Carrillo, her only tactic appeared to be an immediate throw-down of the smaller lady which often had Carrillo’s head landing first.

After the scores were read, referee Jose Cobian raised the arm of the victorious Gabriella Carrillo.

Before leaving the ring, the crowd gave the young ladies, Marie Choi (l) and Gabriella Carrillo (r) a rousing applause for their amazing performance. Photos: Jim Wyatt

Bout #6 a four round WCK Muaythai Cruiserweight bout featured Mike LeMaire of the Art of Eight Gym in Kearny Mesa going up against Miguel Cosio of Team Warriors Muay Thai. This turned out to be another bout with a lot of punishment being dealt out right from the opening bell. After an even first round, LeMaire came at Cosio in Round 2 like a man possessed. One of his punches opened up a nasty cut on Cosio’s forehead. One that was so serious that the referee stopped the contest and had the fight doctor look it over. forward and stop the bout.

After his head injury in Bout #6, referee George Valdez stopped the contest and had the fight doctor look over Miguel Cosio injury to the forehead. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In the end, the Fight Doctor recommended that the fight should be stopped and as a result they went go to the judges’ scorecards. Since Mike Le Maire (l) was ahead on all three scorecards, he was awarded the decision. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In Bout #7, you had two more young ladies ready and willing to leave it all in the ring. San Diego’s Kealani “The Hawaiian Punch” Vanderleest (left) and Oléna “Lena” Serhíyivna Ovchýnnikova (r) a Ukrainian kickboxer/mixed martial artist.

Bout #7 was a four round WCK Muaythai Women’s International Super Bantamweight bout between Lena “the Hunter” Ovchynnikova (8-2-0), from Lviv, Ukraine and Kealani “The Hawaiian Punch” Vanderleest a late substitute who lives and trains locally. Her gym of record is the 858 Fight Shop on Miramar Road and her coach is Doug Dickey. Ovchynnikova had been scheduled to fight Emily Bearden (16-6-0) from New York City for the International Kickboxing Federation (IKF) World Super Bantamweight title but Bearden was injured in training.

This was a classic lefty versus righty bout and as it pertains to eating leather, both dished out a lot of punishment with far too many shots to the head. Despite being a virtual novice to the sport, Vanderleest, coming out of the local WCK Amateur ranks, did quite well and at times held the upper-hand. Even after fatigue had settled in, neither lady showed any sign of letting up.

Bout #8: Here we see Artem Sharoshkin having his arm raised after stopping Chris Culley in round two of the finals for the North American Welterweight Qualifier. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #8 ended up being the final match of this three bout North American Welterweight Tournament. At which point it was Chris Culley facing Artem Sharoshkin. In earlier bouts Sharoshkin had defeated Davidson and Culley had defeated Rodriguez.

As in his first fight, Culley remained evasive in the opening round and circled about the ring with Sharoshkin in hot pursuit. By the second round, Sharoshkin was able to cut off the ring and start connecting. Then came Sharoshkin’s home run punch which sent Culley to the canvas. When trying to get back up, it was clear he was on rubbery legs and could not continue. So, it’s now on to the finals for the power puncher Sharoshkin.

In one of the most exciting matches ever, Bout #9 had local favorite Tiffany Van Soest (green top) doing battle with Jemyma Betrian of The Netherlands. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #9 was a five round IKKC Muaythai Women’s World Super Bantamweight Title bout between Tiffany VanSoest (8-1) of San Diego who trains at the Black House Team Nogueira Gym across the street from the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Jemyma “Golden Girl” Betrian (13-2) from the Netherlands.

This was another of the matches that had everyone on the edge of their seats, tied in knots. In Betrian’s corner was her crew which included her husband with an infant in a stroller. On the opposite side of the ring was Van Soest’s crew, with Kru Alex Palma with a crew from the Black House Team Nogueira fight team.

Both fighters and their corners were well aware of the importance of this match, and both had been training intently for two plus months. The winner would become the new IKKC Muythai Super Bantamweight World Champion.

In scoring the bout, rounds #1 and #3 were simply too close to call. The momentum swings went back and forth like a ticking clock. Betrian held an edge as far as number of punches thrown to the head in both rounds #2 and #4 while Van Soest held the edge in overall power shots, hammer fists, kicks, elbows along with her quick lunging attacks that had Betrian falling back into the ropes. The most noticeable advantage came from the extra points being awarded to Van Soest for a knockdown and a point deduction to Betrian for hitting Van Soest behind the head after an earlier warning. With these distinctions, Van Soest should have won the match. As it turns out, the judges were split with one judge favoring Van Soest, the other Betrian and the third calling it a draw.

After hearing the judges’ scores which made the contest a majority draw, the crowd booed and most observers were looking right and left with puzzled looks on their faces.

Like Bout #9, Bout #10 was more than a bit controversial. Version#1: In Bout #10, local fighter/gym owner Dave Nielsen’s kick to Ryan Madigan’s head dropped his opponent to the canvas in round #2. After Madigan’s failed attempt to get back to his feet the contest was ended and Nielsen was awarded the knockout victory.

Ryan Madigan was clearly and officially counted out by referee Jose Cobian.

The other side of the story: In the first round, Madigan claimed he had his opponent, Nielsen, in trouble several times. Moving on to the second round, Madigan gets swept by Nielson and goes down. As Madigan was attempting to get back on his feet, Nielsen landed another solid kick to his head. Some observers to include Madigan’s corner, felt Madigan should have been considered down on the canvas and Nielsen’s kick should have been ruled illegal – the hitting of an opponent while they are down. In the above photo, we see Madigan pleading his case to one of the officials. Photo: Jim Wyatt

The third version:

Bout #10 was to be a five round WBC Muaythai United States Cruiserweight Title bout between Dave Nielsen (13-1-7 KOs), the 38 year-old owner/operator/chief instructor of American Boxing in Pacific Beach, Calif. and the 35 year old former UFC and WCL veteran, Ryan “The Lion” Madigan. At this point, Madigan was the current IKF East Coast Middleweight Champion. He fights out of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and has a professional Muay Thai record of 28 wins with 6 losses.

So, the stage was set for a great match. In the first round, Madigan resembled a UFC fighter and immediately tried to pound Nielsen with some H-bombs. Despite getting hit by some powerful shots to the head, Nielsen appeared to be as nonchalant as you can get, cool as a cucumber.

As they entered the second round, Madigan was quite confident the match was already in the win column. That’s when Nielsen saw his opening and POW! down went Madigan. Treating the knockdown as if it were just a slip or at worst a flash knockdown, Madigan immediately tried to get back to his feet. At this point, Nielsen flew passed with a kick that returned Madigan to the floor.

As a result, Madigan could not beat the 10 count and Nielsen was awarded the knockout victory. With the use of a video monitor, the referee Jose Cobian and one judge looked at the tape of the first knockdown to aid them in their ruling. Since the earlier ruling was not over-turned, up went Nielsen’s arm.

The statuesque Julie Kitchen makes her long walk to the ring with her husband and fellow coaches in tow. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #11, the Main Event, featured a five round WCK Champion of Champions Women’s World Title fight between Miriam Nakamoto and Julie Kitchen. Kitchen, 44-8, of Cornwall, England, was going after her unprecedented 15th World Title against the undefeated WBC & WMC World Champ Nakamoto, 14-0, of Dublin, CA. It was the best American female fighter known as “the Queen of Mean” versus the U. K.’s Kitchen, dubbed “The Queen of Muaythai” for her many titles and classic fighting style.

Round #1 began this war, a war using elbows, knees, legs and fists going nonstop. The oohs and aahs from the crowd became part of the Pala Event Center’s ambiance.

Early on, the Fight Doctor was looking at both Miriam Nakamoto’s nose plus a cut that was streaming blood from around her left hairline. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Three-quarters of the way through the second round, referee Jose Cobian stopped the bout after noticing Nakamoto’s nose was either broken or just bleeding. After the ring doctor looked her over, he gave his thumbs up and of course the crowd cheered.

Given this reprieve, Nakamoto came even harder. Her elbows and punches to the head had Kitchen’s neck snapping back like a speed bag. As far as the scoring, Nakamoto had begun to dominate and in the end the three judges awarded Nakamoto an unanimous decision victory.

As the fighters stood there in the center of the ring awaiting the announcement of the judges’ scores, Kitchen put her left hand up as if it were a foregone conclusion that she had won. Nakamoto had a different take on the matter. She didn’t look right or left, just straight ahead.

After the announcement that she had won, the Pala Marketing Director, show’s promoter, etc. came rushing to her side. They most likely asked, “Has it sunk in? You, Miriam Nakamoto, have just beaten the most successful female fighter ever from the United Kingdom and possibly the world. You’re now the WCK World Champion.” For all, it was an exemplar moment.

Below are three additional photos of these legends which were taken that same day.

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