By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. This month, a UFC fighter helps his home country, Nathan Chen dazzles, and The Filipino Flash wins a bantamweight title.
UFC fighter helps home country of Laos after flood
Ultimate Fighter Championship MMA fighter Andre Soukhamthath recently won his latest fight in the Octagon against Jonathan Martinez. The native of Boston, Mass. is also a Laotian American, aware of the recent events in Laos that has left many in his native country in desperate need of help. Nicknamed “The Asian Sensation,” Soukhamthath sought to find ways to raise money for flood victims of Laos.
“My heart just sank to the floor,” said Soukhamthath. This past July, a hydroelectric dam system under construction in southeast Laos collapsed, leading to the deaths of at least 27 people and destroying the homes of more than 3,000 residents. The destruction of the dam put Laotian villages downriver in peril. The flooding spread to nearby Cambodia, where villages were flooded and required help from the local government to evacuate the area.
While Soukhamthath is not making a lot as a UFC fighter, he decided to earn the money he wanted to donate. He raffled off all of his UFC walkout gear, including hats, workout shorts, and the shorts he fought in and made $1,200. He then offered to train people. As a professional MMA fighter, there were many people who wanted to take advantage of his services. He offered private training sessions of 5 rounds (3 minutes per round) for $25 and 10 rounds for $50. Andre raised another $1,800 to $2,000 with the private training sessions.
Soukhamthath is a second generation Laotian American and the first fighter from Laos to compete in the UFC. He was a competitive soccer player growing up, but started to train in mixed martial arts in 2009. The 30-year-old is 13-6 in his professional MMA career.
Chen dazzles at Skate America event in Everett
19-year-old U.S. skating star Nathan Chen easily won the gold medal at the first ISU Grand Prix event of the season in Everett in October. Chen, who is known for his quadruple jumps, dialed back his final free skate routine, as he performed just three “quads” to secure first place. The Utah native hit an Olympic record six in his long form routine at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
But those Olympics were not the best for Chen, as he was favored to win a medal in Pyeongchang, North Korea. However, a disastrous short program landed him in 17th place and out of reach of his gold medal aspirations. His six quads in his free skate performance vaulted him to 5th place, but off of the medal stand. Chen will have to wait until 2022 Olympics in Beijing, China to go after an Olympic gold.
The two-time U.S. and reigning world champion was the favorite at the first stop on the tour.
Donaire wins bantamweight title, advances in tournament
Overshadowed by Manny Pacquiao during his prime, The Filipino Flash, Nonito Donaire has been one of the best pound-for-pound boxers you rarely get to hear about. He was named Fighter of the Year in 2012 by the Boxing Writers Association of America. However, Donaire’s career has slowed over the years. Earlier this year, he lost a decision to Carl Frampton in Ireland, where he was constantly beaten to the punch by the younger boxer. Going into his latest fight, he was an underdog going against British boxer Ryan Burnett on Nov. 3 in Scotland.
Burnett, the defending World Boxing Association (WBA) bantamweight title holder, suffered what looked to be a back injury after throwing a punch in the fourth round. He was unable to continue and Donaire won the fight and the WBA bantamweight title. He also moved on to the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS). The WBSS is an international professional boxing tournament that awards for specific boxing divisions with the winner of each tournament receiving $10 million.
Donaire said he felt sluggish early on, but started to connect against Burnett. Unfortunately, Burnett suffered the injury and could not continue in the fifth round. Officially, Donaire won via a technical knockout. The win gives the Bay Area-based fighter some momentum going into the semifinals of the tournament. He may not be the same “flash” at 35 years old, but Donaire is one of the smarter boxers out there who can adapt.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.