Interview: Michael “Chase” Corley

“I’m down for building Muay Thai here, no politics or that kind of thing, I just want to build Muay Thai.”

Michael “Chase” Corley

Interview by: Lance Edwards

This week, September 15th, sees the airing of the follow up Contender Asia series, called The Challenger Muay Thai. According to the Word Muay Thai Council, it will be broadcast to almost four hundred million homes worldwide, and shown as twelve one hour episodes.  To make things even better, Michael Chase Corley, a well known Houston area fighter will be appearing on the series. readers may remember Michael’s write up of one of his fights at Lumpinee Stadium in Bangkok. took the opportunity to catch up with Michael, unfortunately contractual agreements meant we couldn’t find out too much about the series, but we also found out about Michael’s plans now that he’s back in the US.

TCD: Michael how are you settling back in to Texas?

Michael: It’s OK being back, I miss the excitement of fighting regularly or being able to go and watch fights all the time. There’s not much Muay Thai here, there’s a big scene in California and Vegas, but nothing like the scene in Thailand.

TCD: You’ve been over in Asia filming the latest contender series and I believe it airs this week?

Michael: It does, I don’t think it will make TV over here though. It’s being carried by AXN Asia, so is showing in Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, China, those places. I’ll probably end up finding a  link and hosting it on my Facebook if I do.

TCD: How long were you there?

Michael: I’m afraid I can’t say, due to contractual agreements. We were all in a fighter house, we just walked in, and there was an upstairs and a downstairs.  I ended up rooming with Jessie Miles from Canada, and Reece from Australia. Next door it was the English guys and there was an Iranian guy, so the English speakers were together.

TCD: Was it a good experience?

Michael: What was really cool was that I got to see how world champs and previous world champs train. I was able to see their intensity, it pumps you up, and it shows you what you have to do to be at that level. I know I’m already at a high level, but it was great to be surrounded by so many high level guys. Everyone was going hard in training, it gets you enthused more than it does training in the States.

TCD: You’re originally from Spring, how did you end up spending a lot of time training in Muay Thai?

Michael: I am. I actually started boxing at Savannah, and used to drive down there after high school. I met Yves Edwards and did some grappling and Muay Thai. Yves started taking us to do some smokers at Saekson’s  in Dallas. I really enjoyed the Muay Thai, and Yves told me I should go up there sometimes to train, which I did. I submitted my info for the US team and I compiled a highlight real (I only had seven Muay thai fights at the time, so included some boxing as well). I got the call for the 2008 Muay Thai team, and it started from there.

TCD: How did you end up training in Thailand?

Michael: After the fights, which took place in Seoul in Korea, I realized I wasn’t really that good at the Muay Thai aspects and was really a boxer, so I went to Thailand to train before coming home. After I was home, I had a stale year, I couldn’t get fights, until I got a call to fight in Canada against their no. 1 fighter, who I beat. That earned me my spot for the 2009 team. The event was in Thailand, and I went to Fairtex to train again. While I was there I heard the manager was leaving, I have a degree in sports management, so decided to throw my name in the hat. I got the job and was there a year and about six or seven months.

TCD: Is training here very different?

Michael: Now I’m back here and I’m training with MMA guys, it’s actually different. The MMA guys use a lot of sideways movement, or jump back and evade the attack, in Muay Thai rules it’s scored differently, so it’s not so good to do that, you never really move back, you block the strike. Over here you can toughen up good, over there sparring is very technical.

When I came back from Thailand, I came back in April or May I started eating a lot and tearing up the BBQ.  In Thailand as you are fighting all the time, you stay on weight; suddenly I got the call for Challenger and was like “oh crap”. I always train here with guys like Andrew Craig; Travis Tooke is a long term friend of mine and I was training with Todd Moore when I was around as well. When I came back Todd called me and asked me if I’d like to get involved with Gracie Barra The Woodlands.

TCD: Are your classes more traditional in their approach?

Michael: I have an Advanced Class where I do more of the things people don’t spend so much time doing in Muay Thai in the States. A lot of classes aren’t focused as in depth in areas like the clinch and elbows. They don’t teach strategy and how Muay Thai is scored, so I try to teach the full aspects of it.

TCD: Do you teach the Wai Kru?

Michael: I’m still a fighter and am still learning myself, so there are some things I don’t do. I don’t take on the full role of a teacher. As far as Wai Kru, that’s something special for my guys who are fighting, and then I will teach them just before they fight.  I don’t want to do a 180 from what my guys were learning before. I lived at a Thai camp, I want to give that feel, lots of pads, technical sparring and the like. I like to be hands on, not doing a groupacise, cardio kickboxing class where everyone’s working on heavy bags for example.

TCD: So what’s next?

Michael: I fought in a lot of shows in Thailand other Americans haven’t. I didn’t get a lot of exposure, however, I don’t blow my own horn. Now I’m back in the US and I want to build my name. On October 22nd I’m fighting a guy from France in Las Vegas. Muay Thai is gradually growing in the US, and there are guys like Kevin Ross and Ky Hollenbeck. They’re fighting big names, and are getting good exposure for US guys. I want to get good exposure, in Texas there aren’t many opportunities and there isn’t much exposure.  After that fight I’ll play it by ear and see what I can get. I set 2012 as a deadline, I want to get a couple of students fighting and get some fights myself. If it doesn’t happen I’ll head back to Thailand.

TCD: So if it doesn’t work out here you’ll go back?

Michael: I sacrificed a lot to train Muay Thai, this is all I do. I turned my back on my education, other people went out and got jobs with their degrees, I focused on Muay Thai. I want to succeed like Kevin Ross or Hollenbeck, I want to teach and have fights lined up regularly, I’m hoping this fight will lead to that.

TCD: Anything you’d like to share?

Michael: I have a message for everyone in Houston, if you really want to do Muay Thai you have to make sacrifices. It won’t come to you, you may have to fly to Florida to get a fight or have a fight in an event at a bar in Oklahoma. I’m from Spring, Tx, there’s nothing Muay Thai about Spring, Texas; but I’ve fought in the Toyota Cup, Lumpinee Stadium and now this reality show.

If anyone really wants to fight, I’m happy to help. I’m not interested in stealing students or anything like that, if people want my help, I’ll help them. I’m down for building Muay Thai here, no politics or that kind of thing, I just want to build Muay Thai.

Here is a high light video of Corley in action. Enjoy.