Now that Solveigh Skarhus’ Muay Thai tournament is over with, she can watch the video of her bout and trace back the bruises that developed on her legs.
“With any fight, you’re not going to walk away without something,” she said. “But with a belt, it’s a little nicer.”
The 19-year-old fighter nabbed her third consecutive win at the Thai Boxing Association’s Classic Muay Thai World Expo Tournament June 25 in Des Moines and was named the Ladies Class B Welterweight World Champion.
Skarhus had one opponent in her division, which meant she would have to wait a few days until the championship rounds took place. Only then would she be able to fight. Skarhus restrained herself from watching too many fights before then -- just in case she hyped herself up too much and wound up burnt out.
Having already earned two previous belts from the tournament, Skarhus knew she would be back again this year to compete.
“I had been keeping it in mind for pretty much the whole year,” she said. “I actually did not get much of a training camp this time. [After] watching the video of my fight, I could definitely tell that I should have been better conditioned for it. Not that it was bad, but I feel I could have done a lot better.”
She’s still proud of the result and her performance. Leading up to the tournament, Skarhus lost about 20 pounds to meet the weight requirement. She faced off against 33-year-old Kelsie Kidder from Low Kick Camp in Kansas City, Missouri. Skarhus and Kidder fought three, two-minute rounds.
“Although in the middle of it, it felt like half an hour,” said Skarhus. “It goes really fast, but a lot of it you do see more in slow motion. Muay Thai is all power sport. Every strike, most of them are moving straight forward and backward, a little bit side-to-side but not too much circling. It’s all power. There are no light strikes in that at all.”
It’s not as scary compared to her MMA bouts, she added. In the cage, Skarhus isn’t restricted to one style of martial arts. “If you get hit, you can hug ‘em,” Skarhus said with a laugh.
After three rounds, it was decided that Skarhus was the winner of her division. It was a hard-earned victory. Pushing through the pain and constantly fighting was particularly difficult. Typically, the fighters spend first two minutes giving it all they got, hitting at full power. The next rounds, the fighters start to visibly slow down.
“Pushing through the rest is the hard part,” said Skarhus. “Lifting weights while running would be the equivalent.”
Skarhus felt good the first round. Looking back at the video, the fighter discovered she threw more strikes than she originally thought. After every round, she turned to her coach and mentor John DeVall and asked, “Did I win the round?” In turn, he gave his honest opinion.
“He thought I had won each of the rounds,” she said. “The first couple seconds in, you can ‘dump’ – which is throwing them but you can’t use hips or anything – and that counts for quite a few points. I got one of those right away.
“I want to say it was the end of our second round at the very end, the last punch I threw hit her in the face and knocked her down. I was surprised. I want to say that counted for quite a bit.”
Kidder hit a few strikes that rocked Skarhus as well. If there was ever a point Skarhus felt she could have lost, it was when her opponent hit two really good teeps – a straight push kick – right underneath the ribs.
After re-watching the video of their fight, Skarhus faulted herself for getting hit after charging kidder.
“Muay Thai is very much about controlling the center,” she said. “I learned from one of the best how to just walk through it even when you don’t realize. I walked straight into a couple of those. Kinda knocked the wind out of me. It could have dropped me but I’m glad it didn’t. That was probably the most worried I was.”
In addition to the MMA belt Skarhus earned in January, the young fighter now has four belts to her name. The three consecutive Muay Thai titles, she added, have made her feel more credited as a fighter. But Skarhus still wants to test herself and hopes to compete in the Class A division of the Muay Thai tournament next year.
She has also set her sights on more fights and titles in the near future.
“I haven’t had as many fights as I would have liked to over the last couple of years, and I’m trying to speed that up now,” said Skarhus. “We’re looking at getting me on a show in August coming up in Sioux Falls. Looking to take a few more fights and get a couple more titles relatively soon.”