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Mashantucket - Rare is the day (or night) that a form of entertainment makes its East Coast debut.
But it's happening Friday at Foxwoods Resort Casino, which will host "Lion Fight 15," featuring Thailand's national sport, muay thai, a mixed martial art in which the combatants are free to hit each other with their fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet.
Doors will open at 6 p.m. for the six-bout card at the Fox Theater, with the first fight scheduled to start at 7. The main event, pitting muay thai stars Cosmo "Good Boy" Alexandre and Mark "Boots" Holst, is set for 9. Listed on the undercard are Tiffany Van Soest, a former lightweight champion; Kevin Ross, a muay thai champion; and rising star Jason Andrada.
As of Wednesday, the event was a near-sellout.
Popular throughout Southeast Asia, muay thai has shown up at some Las Vegas venues but never on the East Coast. Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have hosted other mixed martial arts.
Felix Rappaport, the former MGM Resorts executive who joined Foxwoods earlier this year as senior vice president and chief operating officer, is credited with bringing muay thai to Mashantucket.
Foxwoods is one of the entertainment capitals of the world, so it's only fitting that we bring in the top sporting events available, including mixed martial arts and muay thai," Rappaport said in a statement. "Lion Fight muay thai offers some of the best standup athletes in the world going toe-to-toe in non-stop action. Fans of both mixed martial arts and boxing will love it."
Las Vegas-based Lion Fight Promotions bills itself as the world's premier muay thai organization. Scott Kent, the company's owner and CEO, has been trying to bring the sport to the East Coast for years.
"We just needed the right venue and the right partner and we found both with Felix Rappaport and his team at Foxwoods Resort Casino," he said. "Every year, Lion Fight makes bold moves to grow this sport and attract more and more fight fans to muay thai."
Friday's main event will be broadcast live on AXS TV, a cable station.