Jeron Gunness will fight for a dual-state amateur title against home favourite Max Arredondo in a Bad Blood Muay Thai event at the Empire State Centre in Phoenix, Arizona, tomorrow.
Gunness’s bout against Arredondo, of Danny Brandt Muay Thai, is the co-main event and will be the Bermudian’s first full Muay Thai rules fight — no shin guards or headgear — as he looks to gain more experience in the “Art of Eight Limbs”.
He has previously fought in modified kick-boxing bouts and spent the past month training under Kru Sean Concepcion of Alliance Muay Thai in Las Vegas to prepare for the toughest fight of his career.
“The standard is high for this fight because I’ve never fought without headgear or shin guards and never really been in a full elbow-rules fight,” said Gunness, 27, whose bout will be five two-minute rounds.
“I’ve only been in three-round fights before and I’ll be going into my opponent’s home state, so I will be the unknown who the crowd won’t know.
“It’s a first-time experience for me to be the visitor in a co-main event. It’s a huge step up when compared to all my other fights and experiences.”
Gunness, who has ten bouts under his belt — including three overseas — has stepped up to the A class and said that training with top professionals and amateurs at Alliance Muay Thai has “helped filled some of the holes in his game”.
“Being out here with Kru Sean and his team has been an awesome experience,” said Gunness, who has quit his job at Dockyard Glassworks to pursue his Muay Thai dreams.
“Kru Sean and his wife Sunny have opened their home to me and made me feel like a family member.
“It shows there is more positives in the world than negatives once you follow your dreams and start looking for the positives in life. I’ve had one hard week of sparring, heavy-pad drills and running. I’ve learnt to not try and be better than my new team-mates, but to be a better me every time I step into the gym.”
With potentially five gruelling rounds of combat on the horizon, Gunness has been busy honing his body in Las Vegas, although he admits it is the mental component of the fight game where he has often struggled in the past.
“The biggest change in my preparation has been working on my mind,” Gunness added. “I’ve never had problems with getting my body sharp for a fight, but I’ve had a disconnect with my mind and body in my last few fights.
“This time around I’ve focused more on my mental preparations to get my mind and body to work in unison and to have more confidence and faith in myself.
“With this mentality I have accepted the holes and weaknesses in my game. Muay Thai is a never-ending journey and a way of life.
“It’s quite addictive as I can challenge myself and it allows me to understand more about who I am and to overcome the demons inside of me.”
Chuck Morgan the president of BAMA, said Gunness has left no stone unturned in his preparations for his bout.
“Jeron has had the best training camp of his life working with the coaches at BAMA for technique and the coaches at the Beast Gym for conditioning,” Morgan said. “He is in great shape and stronger than he has ever been.”