The Evolution of MMA in Houston
MMA in Houston continued to progress after its origin at Tim Mousel’s Self Defense Academy. As mentioned earlier, many of the top students at Tim’s original place branched off to form their own schools. At the front of the pack was Saul Soliz and Patumwadee Gym aka the home of Kickboxing in Houston and Muay Thai in Houston.
Saul’s place was unique mainly because of Saul. He did not come from a traditional martial arts background. Instead he came up boxing and discovered Muay Thai at a later age. He was focused 100% on the actual fighting aspect of Martial arts and therefore attracted some of the toughest guys around at his place. His was the only martial arts school in the area that I knew of that had a real boxing ring and even a “jerry rigged” cage to practice MMA strategy.
The 1st show for MMA in Houston
At the same time he was learning about fighting and the new sport of MMA and how his brand of Thai Boxing could be utilized in this new concept sport, he was always learning all about event promotions. During this time he was exploring promoting Muay Thai smokers at the Thai Temple, Pancrase events, toughman contests, and grappling tournaments.
All of these were pre–boxing commission and featured some of the best local MMA action I have seen to date. I had the good fortune of being able to referee matches with UFC standouts like Yves Edwards, Pete Spratt, Ricco Rodriguez, and others in these early unsanctioned events. These experiments eventually led the the first MMA show in Houston called Renegades Extreme Fighting.
MMA in Houston Gets Better
The Renegades show had another effect on MMA in Houston, purely by coincidence. In an effort to promote his show, Saul would invite MMA Fighters to the event for good PR. He would also invite them to his gym to train and some of them ended up liking his MMA style of Muay Thai and solicited him as a trainer for their upcoming fights.
This is when he had the chance to be involved in training camps of athletes contracted to PRIDE and the UFC. Not only was he working the corner of guys liek Ricco Rodriguez, Mark Coleman, Yves Edward, Pete Spratt, Keven Randelman, Tito Ortiz, and others, they were coming to his mixed martial arts gym in Houston on a regular basis.
Next blog we will discuss two forgotten soldiers of MMA in Houston.