Earlier this month, former Muay Thai world champion Steve “The Panda” Banks obtained his second win over Akbar Karimi, but this time the two fighters fought it out bare-knuckle at BKFC Thailand 2. After a rocky first round, “The Panda” reclaimed his composure to throw a nasty left hook that caught Karimi, causing the latter to collapse and Banks’ hand to be raised.
MMA Sucka’s Nate Freeman caught up with “The Panda” to talk about the fight, BKFC’s Thailand chapter, and Banks’ incredible weight loss journey.
Steve Banks Praises BKFC Thailand’s Nick Chapman and Co.
Banks had nothing but great things to say about the Thai arm of Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship. He complimented the team behind BKFC Thailand CEO Nick Chapman, formerly “The Headhunter” back in his fighting days, and highly commended the company’s organizational methods.
“Nick is an old-school fighter. He knows what fighters wanna be, how they wanna be treated – and he treats them very well. Anytime I needed something, I could always message him for it and he’ll respond within hours.”
Regarding the fight itself, Banks admits that things didn’t go to plan, causing him to get frustrated quickly after the first bell rang. “I wasn’t fighting smart,” he responded when asked about being dropped twice in the first. “The Panda” was expecting Karimi to fight similarly to their first meeting in a Muay Thai match, moving forward in attempts to put pressure and gain ring control, but instead the Iranian opponent was more relaxed.
“I actually thought that he would come forward right from the get-go – I didn’t expect him to sit back the first few seconds and not attack,” he recalls, “it pissed me off and made me go forward.”
Banks admits that letting his emotions get the best of him cause him to forget head movement. This allowed Karimi to gain the opportunity to knock Banks down twice in the first. But, with a false sense of confidence, the Karimi went into the second round doing exactly what “The Panda” had originally expected him to do – push forward.
“He ended up doing what I expected him to do in round one in round two instead which benefitted me,” Banks said with a smile.
“I’m the lightest I’ve ever been in 25 years” – Banks on his weight loss
In preparation for his previous fight, the Bellator veteran Banks thought it was due time that he took care of himself and take his weight to a comfortable position just under the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds. Now he walks around well at 250 pounds, although when six-foot-five “The Panda” first arrived in Thailand several years ago, he weighed about 400 pounds.
“I’ve been meaning to drop the weight anyway. Now, I walk around about 250 – BKFC in the US has a heavyweight limit of 265 pounds. I needed to make sure that I’m under the heavyweight limit.”
Banks also commented that his weight loss has helped his cardio tremendously, despite training cardio between five and six days a week. “The lighter I am, the better cardio I have,” he admits with pride.
Enjoy the rest of the interview on the MMA Sucka YouTube channel here: