From the Vault: Yodsaenklai Fairtex v. Vuyisile Colossa

Originally posted at

Welcome back to From the Vault - a series here at Head Kick Legend focused on classic fights from kickboxing's past. With more and more fans discovering kickboxing every day, this series aims to revisit some of the sport's greatest fights.

February 13, 2010

For this edition of From the Vault, we tackle something a bit different. Instead of looking into kickboxing's far past, we turn to one of the most talked about results from 2010: Yodsaenklai Fairtex v. Vuyisile "The Cheetah" Colossa. One of the biggest upsets in recent years, this fight remained unseen for months until footage finally surfaced recently. Now, we examine the lead up to the fight, and the controversial result.

Heading into this fight, Yodsaenklai was one of the top pound for pound Thai fighters on the planet. Starting in mid-2005, Yod had been on an unbelievable streak, winning countless fights against top opponents and only notching one loss - an extra round decision defeat in 2008 to Andy Souwer, at that time the reigning MAX champion and #1 ranked 70kg fighter in the world. Yod's streak included winning The Contender Asia by defeating John Wayne Parr, plus wins over Cosmo Alexandre, Marco Pique, and Tum Madsue among others. For some perspective, at the time Yod began his streak, Pride still existed, Badr Hari had yet to make his K-1 debut, and Chuck Liddell had just won the UFC Light Heavyweight belt. In short, the man was dominant, with no end to his spectacular run in sight.

On February 13, with thirteen straight wins behind him, Yodsaenklai stepped into the ring in Equatorial Guinea in Africa for what was assumed to be another relatively easy win. His opponent was Vuyisile Colossa, a 27 year old South African fighter.

A professional since 2002, Colossa had fought all over the world, gaining valuable experience competing in Hong Kong's Planet Battle, Thailand, and Europe. His path had brought him against many notable names in the sport including Naruepol Fairtex, Armen Petrosyan, and Tum Madsua. While these were undoubtedly helpful learning opportunities, Colossa had yet to earn that big win needed to break out and gain serious attention. His biggest win to date was a victory in early 2009 over Xu Yan, the Chinese fighter who would end 2009 with a K-1 win over Yuichiro Nagashima.

One other notable name appeared on the resume of Vusi Colossa: Yodsaenklai Fairtex. The two men had met twice before in the ring - first on November 25, 2008 in Hong Kong, then on March 26, 2009 in France. In both fights the result had been the same - Yodsaenklai via decision. For their third encounter, the two men would compete under modified Muay Thai rules: five 3-minute rounds with no elbows allowed.

Between Yod's dominance, Colossa's significantly lower ranking, and their two previous encounters, this looked like an easy fight to pick. Sure there were rumblings that Yodsaenklai had not looked quite as strong in his most recent outings, choosing to coast to decision victories rather than finish his opponents off, but he still was the heavy favorite here.

Five rounds later, the unthinkable had happened. The judges rendered a decision. Yodsaenklai had been defeated. Vuyisile Colossa had toppled the Muay Thai giant.

Almost immediately, questions began to be raised regarding the decision. Live reports indicated that it should have gone Yod's way, calling Colossa's victory into question. With no footage available, fans were left to wonder exactly what had happened in Guinea that night.

Last week, after months of anticipation, the fight showed up. A close look reveals much about how Colossa walked away with the win, and whether or not that win was deserved.

Fight video and analysis after the jump.

Rounds 1-3:

Round 1 is a pretty typical Muay Thai first round. Both men are definitely feeling each other out, with not a lot of big shots thrown. Yodsaenklai is moving forward, with Colossa taking a more counter-striker approach, but there's nothing significant to separate the two men in this round as I see it. I give it 10-10.

Round 2 starts as more of the same until Colossa visibly hurts his right leg on a leg kick. He does his best to protect the leg, wisely moving to keep his right side against the ropes in order to take away Yod's ability to strike the leg. But his mobility is hampered, and Yodsaenklai begins applying the pressure. With Vusi thinking about his leg, Yodsaenklai throws some leg kicks before expertly switching to a head kick. It lands clean, and Colossa goes down. Yodsenklai keeps up the pressure to end round 2. Easy 10-8 for Yodsaenklai there, and a beautiful example of technique.

As round 3 begins, Colossa looks to have regained his footing. Here, he starts using his superior hand speed and some nice boxing combos to land punches on Yodsaenklai. Again, Colossa hurts his leg, and Yod goes for the same head kick from round 2, but Colossa is on to him and blocks it. Colossa is clearly the busier fighter here, though Yod picks his shots and lands some nice kicks - and it's here that we run into some scoring uncertainties. Namely: what criteria are the judges scoring on? Are they using traditional Muay Thai scoring, or more of a K-1 style? The key difference is that, in Muay Thai, kicks are given higher weight in scoring than punches, whereas in K-1, all effective striking is measured equally. This is particularly important because Yodsaenklai is using more kicks, while Colossa is relying mainly on his hands. I call this 10-10 again, but if it's Muay Thai scoring it would go to Yodsaenklai.

Rounds 4-5:

For round 4, Colossa continues to use his boxing, landing a number of punches and using effective counter-striking to match Yodsaenklai's strikes. Yod throws a lot of kicks, but very few land clean, with Colossa taking most on the arms. The main story of this round is Colossa's hands, and while I could see an argument for Yod here, I go 10-9 Colossa.

Round 5, and here we firmly see the criticism of Yodsaenklai. As in other recent fights, he sits back in this final round, offering up virtually no offense for the first half of the round, and allowing his opponent back in the fight. Colossa responds with increased aggression, taking the fight to Yod for the first time and landing a number of clean punches to end the fight. Definite 10-9 for Colossa.

So for me, it's a 48-48 draw. Judges give it to Colossa, and while my score differs, it's not so drastic that I cry foul.

Colossa does a lot of things right here. He uses his hand speed to outbox Yodsaenklai, recovers from a bad spot in the 2nd, and stays in the fight until the final bell. He grows as the fight goes on, while Yodsaenklai fades, and that makes an impression. Again, the method of scoring does play a factor here, as under a strict Muay Thai scoring, I would go 48-47 Yodsaenklai, but with these modified rules I don't believe they were scoring that way.

Many disagree with the result, but at the end of the day, Vuyisile Colossa is your winner. He's followed that up with a win in his MMA debut, as well as victory in China's Wu Ling Feng tournament, and is looking towards a possible fight with Buakaw in the future. Yodsaenklai meanwhile has won his sole fight since this one, a TKO victory over Abdel Halim Issaoui.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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