“If there had been a soccer pitch near our house instead of a Muay Thai gym, I probably would been a professional soccer player instead of a fighter,” laughs the 23-year-old Victor Pinto (72-26, 22 KO's) as he recalls his route into the world of full-contact competition.
His father, Serge Pinto, is a French national who fell in love with Thailand and moved his young family out there in 2001. Victor was just nine years old at the time, his brother Antoine was 11, and they found themselves having to adapt to life in their new home.
“When we moved to Thailand we had no friends at the time and couldn’t speak a word of Thai. A Muay Thai gym was near the house so we started playing around and we had our first professional fight two months later. So yeah, I’d probably be a soccer player at this point if a field had been closer, ha!”
Nine years old is an extraordinarily young age to have a professional fight – except in Thailand, where it is common for Muay Thai fighters to begin their careers at such an age and then retire in their twenties with several hundred bouts to their names.
Still, it's very unusual for a European to begin so early and in such a daunting setting. Most European children that age are more likely to be learning how to ride a bike than land a head kick. “Yeah I didn't like fighting at first - and I’m still not sure if I do now!” Victor laughs.
Later this month, on Friday January 20, he will meet the karate stylist Giga Chikadze (36-5, 21 KO's) in a Featherweight encounter on the GLORY 37 LOS ANGELES SuperFight Series card. It is his debut, while Chikadze is 4-2 in GLORY and looking for a title shot. In a sport dominated by fighters who draw their influence from the Dutch style of kickboxing, both Chikadze and Pinto bring something different to the table.
Pinto believes his background in orthodox Muay Thai, coupled with a mastery of range, will give him an advantage over many of his opponents.
“I'm good at keeping the right distance to make perfect timing for my body kicks,” he says. “I’m normally a kicker rather than a knockout fighter, so the fact that many kickboxers don’t block body kicks [the Thai way] will maybe make me become a knockout fighter!”
If one looks at the recent GLORY 35 fight between Petpanomrung and Stanislav Renita, he may have a point. Petpanomrung brutalized Renita over three rounds with little but a left body kick and took hardly any damage in return. The only thing which kept Renita standing was his sheer toughness.
Pinto is not a one-trick pony though. He says he can fight several different ways, depending on what is happening in the fight and what his opponent is offering him at any given time.
“I can adapt my style to any kind of opponents. I’ll go forward if I have to or fight smarter if have to. There’s no point for me to get hurt if you can avoid it, it just depends on how my opponent is fighting,” he explains.
Pinto's debut takes place on the GLORY 37 LOS ANGELES SuperFight Series card, which you can watch live on UFC Fight Pass from 22.30 ET/19.30 PT on Friday, January 20.
este artículo es impulsado por traductor de Google