Putting American Muay Thai On The Map: Eddie Abasolo And Luke Lessei Eager To Showcase Their Art In Bangkok
On February 16 at ONE Fight Night 19: Haggerty vs. Lobo on Prime Video, Californian Eddie “Silky Smooth” Abasolo and Iowa native Luke “The Chef” Lessei will throw down in a battle between two of America’s top Muay Thai competitors.
When the featherweights square off in U.S. primetime, they’ll be fighting for much more than just victory and glory – they’ll also be aiming to put American Muay Thai on the map in a big way.
Both men will enter the bout in Thailand following hard-fought decision losses to highly respected Thai athletes.
Abasolo went to war with legendary striker Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong last June at ONE Friday Fights 22, while Lessei engaged in an unforgettable Fight of the Year contender against “Smokin” Jo Nattawut in December at ONE Fight Night 17.
Those performances earned both of them plenty of respect from the global Muay Thai community, but their head-to-head showdown at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium will give them the chance to showcase their uniquely American style of combat.
Abasolo Plans To Display ‘Beautiful Muay Thai’
At 37 years old and a veteran of three thrilling fights in ONE, Abasolo has long been at the forefront of the Muay Thai scene in the United States.
Throughout his career, he’s been fighting for respect from the international community, hoping to prove – with his “Silky Smooth” footwork and creative combinations – that Americans are much more than just hard hitters; they’re technicians just as devoted to the art as their Thai counterparts.
He explained to onefc.com:
“I’m not saying that we’re not respected, but it is a fact that we’re not at the top of the totem pole when it comes to Muay Thai, you know?
“We get down over here in the U.S., man. And we’re pretty good at it. We’re not just meatheads. We got style, and we know how to fight beautiful Muay Thai.”
According to Abasolo, he and Lessei are the perfect strikers to elevate American Muay Thai to new heights.
With their unorthodox and entertaining styles, he thinks fans are in for an eye-opening experience on February 16:
“There’s a ton of talent out here in the U.S. I feel like two U.S. fighters like Luke and myself, especially us two, we’re gonna go out there and we’re gonna show that beautiful Muay Thai is found in this corner of the world, as well.
“We’re already on the map somewhat, but this fight will definitely make people take us a lot more seriously and look a little bit deeper into the U.S. and see what we’re about when it comes to Muay Thai.”
Lessei: ‘There’s No Two Better People’ To Promote The Art Of Muay Thai In America
For his part, Lessei is also excited to push back against the stereotype of the wild American brawler.
“The Chef” agrees with his opponent that they are the best American representatives of true Muay Thai – technical strikers with a wealth of knowledge and a nuanced understanding of the discipline.
Their respective styles, he says, also reflect the American ideal of a cultural melting pot:
“I think there’s no two better people than us to represent it because, for the longest time, it’s wrestling, MMA, tough-guy mentality. The wrestler that can f****** throw an overhand and knock someone out. Then you got these two Americans who care about the art and beauty and the technical side of this.
“There’s no better two than us because of our fight style, because of our approach to the game. It’s just like going back to the tradition of martial arts. And think of America as a melting pot, right? And then you’ve got these two guys who mix everything they can into this Muay Thai game, under this Muay Thai umbrella.”
While #5-ranked Lessei is coming into the featherweight contest with bad intentions, he certainly carries no ill will toward his compatriot.
Quite the opposite – he hopes that “Silky Smooth” will also have his chance to display the beauty and creativity of the sport:
“Obviously, I’m going into this to absolutely starch him and knock him out and make his family cry, but it would almost be cool if it could be like a draw, where we get both of us just showing that we’re both here. We both just won with American Muay Thai. Almost like winning two gold medals.”
Ultimately, the Iowan is confident that he and Abasolo will put on a show for the Bangkok faithful and those watching around the world on ONE’s global platform.
American Muay Thai, he adds, is here to stay, and his battle at ONE Fight Night 19 will be an incredible showcase of world-class striking:
“Honestly, I don’t see how this could go bad, as long as me and him don’t just do some wacky American stuff and throw as hard as we can.
“If we show good, clean Muay Thai, which obviously we will, it’s going to put America on the map in one fight.”