The 2023 Sanda World Championships had a fantastic day two in Fort Worth, Texas. Team USA secured three medals on the day after their successful day one. Earning the medals were Audrey Meeks, Livingston McKenzie and Bruce Wang. Today, they will fight for a spot in the finals on tomorrow’s concluding day of competition.
Audrey Meeks: The sole women’s competitor for Team USA
Do not let anyone tell you that people do not like women’s fighting. On day two, Team USA’s Audrey Meeks had the loudest crowd by an order of magnitude. Her fight was a fan favorite and had chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” echoing throughout the Fort Worth Convention Arena.
Meeks punched her ticket to the Sanda World Championships with a 2-0 win over Chinese Taipei’s Si Yun Chen. After not getting to fight yesterday due to her opponent’s forfeiture, Meeks stepped onto the lei tai eager to compete. There, she ran a smart game plan, fighting fast and nimble on her feet with a heavy kicking attack.
“It felt amazing,” Meeks said. “I got all the jitters out, thankfully.” Speaking on the crowd cheering for her, “I definitely heard them. I think that was the first time I ever heard them. It felt great. I guess I was calm enough to hear them because I’ve never heard them before.”
Bruce Wang: A come from behind Hail Mary
At 85 kilos, Bruce Wang stepped onto the mat for the first time and took on an incredibly tough opponent from Egypt. Wang fell behind on the scorecards drastically with the judges giving his opponent point after point. Wang kept a clear head and continued to land the heavy shots.
In round two, he continued his pounding onslaught, sacrificing points for damage. After his nose was cut in a clinch from a headbutt, Wang found the opportunity he was looking for. With less than a round to go in the fight and down in the second round, Wang landed a huge right hand that dropped his combatant.
As he got up and stumbled, the Egyptian could not beat the ten count and the fight was called off. Drama ensued as Team Egypt did what any good team would do and argued the stoppage. But as time went on and he was given two and then five plus minutes to recover, judges said they would make a decision later.
As Team USA headed to the back, the fighter from Egypt was emotional and verbally attacked Wang and head coach Cory Johnson. He claimed he was okay to continue and should be handed the victory because he was up on both scorecards. At the end of the day, Bruce Wang was rightfully handed the victory. In a show of good sportsmanship, the Eyptian fighter and team apologized explaining that they were emotional. With the stakes being so high at the 2023 World Sanda Championships, who can blame him?
Livingston McKenzie: Going for gold?
Calm, cool, and collected, Livingston McKenzie took the mat and was completely in the zone. As he began the fight, it was apparent he was out there for one thing: victory. After the controversy with Wang, McKenzie was on the mat with Egypt’s Ahmed Aly Khamis Hamouda. This fight, a 90 kilogram affair, was nowhere near as close.
McKenzie piled on points after points with takedowns and incredible footwork that had Team UK finding him to compliment him on it after the fight. McKenzie easily took round one and as round two commenced looked like it was going to go the same way. Unfortunately, Hamouda landed wrong after a body kick and seemed to tear his ACL.
In true McKenzie fashion, he kneeled by his opponent who was screaming on the ground in pain. Team USA wishes him a full recovery and sees McKenzie move on to the semi final round.
Jayden Saucedo comes up short in first Sanda World Championships
After a shock in day one, Jayden Saucedo had high hopes going into round two. He took on Kazakhstan’s Avazbek Amanbekov, a fifteen-year veteran of the sport. Saucedo, who has only been training Sanda for two years, just didn’t have the experience to compete.
That didn’t stop Saucedo from coming forward like a zombie. He never once gave up on himself and fought his heart out the entire fight. In between rounds, after getting beat in the first decisively, Saucedo told his coach, “I f**king love this.” It seems he was relishing in the experience at the world level.
Going into day four, there’s a lot on the line for Team USA. Not traditionally a major player in sanda, the Americans have an opportunity for three final berths with wins today. Audrey Meeks, Livingston McKenzie and Bruce Wang will aim for just that to bring home a shot at gold for Team USA. Regardless of outcome, all three will take home a bronze for advancing so far.
You can watch day three of the 2023 World Sanda Championships live on YouTube for free!
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