It’s safe to say that professional kickboxer Christina Rondeau had a smashing debut in the World Combat League (WCL) on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.
“It was awesome,” she said. “It was a spectacular night.”
The 33-year-old Rondeau, a Woonsocket native and a national champion, was chosen to compete in the WCL — a recently-formed professional kickboxing league created by martial arts TV and film star Chuck Norris — three months ago. Competing as one of six members of the New England Strikers, who were making their inaugural appearance in the eight-team, co-ed league, Rondeau certainly made a good impression for Norris and Co.
“(They) told me afterwards that (they) definitely want to make me a superstar,” Rondeau said. “They were very, very impressed with my fighting skills.”
The Strikers took on the Philadelphia Fire in the first of two team matches at Mohegan Sun. In her opening, three-minute round (each team member fights two rounds, split in each half of the 12-round match), Rondeau dominated the Fire’s Suzie Montero. She attained the maximum 15 points by knocking out the Florida native with a series of high kicks and inside jabs.
“It was awesome,” Rondeau said. “I caught her once with a spinning kick. My kicks and my inside boxing skills (were dominant). I went full throttle the full three minutes.”
Rondeau, who owns a 7-0-1 mark as a professional and captured the U.S. lightweight kickboxing championship in 1999, stated that she was never in jeopardy in her opening match, continuously attacking the defenseless Montero — a professional muay-thai kickboxer with a 2-0 record.
“She was a good fighter. She had a powerful kick. She hit me with one shot (to my right) leg that still hurts today,” Rondeau said. “I did awesome. I basically went all out against her. She collapsed outside the ring. She had a few broken ribs and a tooth out. My game plan was to knock her out in the second round. I was actually disappointed she couldn’t come back out and fight.”
Besides having the confidence in her ability, Rondeau also had somewhat of a hometown advantage in Saturday’s fight. Among the hundreds of fans at the Connecticut venue were a good portion of students from her martial arts business in Smithfield — Rondeau’s Kickboxing and Fitness Center LLC.
“I definitely think more than half the crowd was for me,” said Rondeau, a 1990 Woonsocket High graduate. “I probably had 200 students in the crowd, yelling and screaming. It was really exciting.”
Due to the fact that Rondeau disposed of her opponent in the first round, she had to fight an alternate in the second round. In that three-minute span, she went toe-to-toe with Boston’s Virginia Baker, who happens to be Rondeau’s sparring partner.
As a whole, Rondeau thought that the WCL was a huge success in its first New England appearance. So far the league has had just one other match, making its debut in Houston last April. In Saturday’s event, nearly half of the 24 individual matches for the night were decided by a knockout.
“It was awesome,” she said. “It was really good. I think people really liked the three-minute rounds. There was no lax. It really moved fast. Nobody had time to just sit there and be bored. There was definitely a ton of knockouts. It was crazy.”
EXTRA ROUNDS: Rondeau plans to continue to fight for the WCL, which Norris is hoping to make a big-time professional sport by attaining lucrative endorsements. She’s also looking to perhaps add another national title to her resume. Her manager Charlie Sampalis is trying to work out a deal in March for Rondeau to fight for the USKBA lightweight championship at the R.I. Indoor Sports Center on Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick ..The New York Clash and the Miami Force were the other two teams that participated in Saturday’s event.