In the Lion Fight 13 main event, Tiffany "Time Bomb" Van Soest stepped into the ring against hard-hitting Australian challenger Caley Reece in what was the promotion's first ever female headlining bout.
The first round of Van Soest vs Reece was a bit of a feeling out process, with neither fighter earning much of an advantage on the judge's scorecards.
Both fighters picked up the pace in the second stanza, and Reece appeared to do the most damage by pulling her opponent into a tight clinch as time wound down in the frame.
Tied one-all heading into the third round, Van Soest knew she needed to press the action to retain her belt. Reece was getting the best of the action in the clinch, but Van Soest won by working angles on the outside.
The "Time Bomb" was ticking in the fourth round, and it exploded when Van Soest landed a crisp elbow to the side of the face in the 20th minute.
It was an even contest when the fifth round started, but Reece scored points by throwing knees in the clinch. Reece also had two takedowns in the final round, as compared to one from Van Soest.
After five rounds of championship action, Reece won the fight via split decision.
Van Soest, who fights out of Blue Ocean Thai Boxing in San Diego, Calif., became the first ever women’s Lion Fight featherweight champion with a knockout win over Lucy Payne at Lion Fight 10.
"Time Bomb" put her perfect record on the line against Reece, a legendary standup fighter who has held three World Muay Thai Council (WMC) titles over the course of her lengthy career.
Reece was briefly retired, but her passion for kickboxing drove her back to the sport. Van Soest was more than happy to put her title on the line against the fast-rising Australian.
“Every fighter dreams of fighting in the main event title fight, and to have this opportunity – especially as a woman – is a dream come true,” said Van Soest in the days leading up to the event. “What means even more to me as a fighter is challenging myself against the best. I want that super hard battle to see what I am really made of and I know I will get that with Caley. I am looking forward to a tough fight and to my hand being raised at the end. Thank you Lion Fight and Caley Reece for this awesome event February 7 in Las Vegas!”
There was no animosity between Van Soest and Reece, as they clearly respected each other's skills.
“When Lion Fight called me about this title fight, I was immediately excited because I have what it takes to beat Tiffany Van Soest and take this belt back to Australia,” said Reece before the bout. “She is a talented, young fighter but I’ve got years of ring experience and my winning strategy already figured out. I look forward to coming to America and to this championship fight at Lion Fight 13.”
Lion Fight 13 also featured two highly anticipated rematches, the first Kevin Ross vs. Matt Embree II and the second Coke Chunhawat vs. Rami Ibrahim II.
Chunhawat vs. Ibrahim was an action-packed five-round war, with the former walking away the victor. Chunhawat won each of the first four rounds, but that didn't stop him from coming out swinging in the fifth and final frame.
Chunhawat earned a unanimous decision on the judge's scorecards.
Ross vs Embree put on an exciting show in the Lion Fight 13 co-main. After a back-and-forth opening frame, Ross pulled ahead in the second round with crossing elbows and low kicks.
Embree did a much better job in the third round, working inside to drop bombs from within the clinch.
Here's a look at the Lion Fight 13 main card results:
- Coke Chunhawat def. Rami Ibrahim via unanimous decision
- Kevin Ross def. Matt Embree via split decision
- Caley Reece def. Tiffany Van Soest via split decision