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Whitehorse fighter edged from gold at Muay Thai nationals

Whitehorse’s Greg Sanderson came down on the wrong side of a split decision at the National Muay Thai Championship on Sunday in Toronto.

Whitehorse’s Greg Sanderson came down on the wrong side of a split decision at the National Muay Thai Championship on Sunday in Toronto.

“It’s tough because if I threw one more elbow, one more kick, one more knee, it could have been a different outcome,” said Sanderson. “But I felt comfortable, so I know I’m going in the right direction.”

Competing at his first nationals, Sanderson went the full three rounds, losing by split decision 29-28 to Toronto’s Gavin Young.

With just the two fighters entered in the B division’s 81-kilogram weight class, Sanderson comes home with a silver medal. (A third fighter, Qasim Rehman of Toronto, scratched the day before the start of the championship.)

“It was a very close fight, it could have gone either way,” said Sanderson.

“I was pretty disappointed in my performance, overall,” he added. “I had it — that’s the toughest part. I was that close, I had him tired — it’s just disappointing. I’m still digesting it. You win or you learn and I learned so much from that fight that I’m going to give back to other fighters.”

Sanderson, who moved to Whitehorse from Ontario a year and a half ago, was one of 156 fighters at the nationals and the only from the territories.

The 25-year-old has studied Muay Thai, a combat sport from Thailand focused on stand-up striking with fists, elbows, knees and shins, for five years. He previous competed in three exhibition fights but Sunday’s was his first sanctioned bout — and his first in B division with legal elbow strikes.

“I felt amazing. I had a lot more energy; I had a lot more to give in the ring,” said Sanderson. “But I definitely had some ring rust. It’s been two years since I fought last. So his experience came through and my ring rust didn’t allow me to utilize all my weapons the way I wanted to. I was fairly hesitant in the clinch, I wasn’t busy enough in the clinch, so ultimately he threw more knees in the clinch work and that scored him some points.

“I landed some nice head kicks, I got him with a teep (push kick) to the face, I got him with some nice teeps to the stomach and dropped him once.”

Sanderson has been training for months for nationals, but he almost didn’t get to go. Dave’s Cleaning, a Whitehorse-based janitorial services company, and another business that requested anonymity, covered Sanderson’s travel expenses so he could make the trip.

N60 Combative Arts, a Whitehorse gym that opened in May, has been providing Sanderson with free training, physiotherapy and a nutrition program.

“Either way it was nice just being there, seeing the Yukon flag represented was really neat for me,” said Sanderson. “I think it’s great for our gym.”

“I got out pretty unscathed. I have a pretty bruised leg from some leg kicks and my shoulder is a little tweaked, but other than that I’ll be ready to train right away,” he added. “I just want to keep momentum and maybe see what else is out there.”

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