BUTTE — Sam Rauch was admittedly a little distracted by the attention and time spent on trying to put on one of the biggest fighting events the City of Butte has ever seen, but he still edged out Canada’s Kolton Menzak by a unanimous 48-47 decision for the Sparta Combat League’s Muay Thai world title belt on Saturday night.
“I put a lot into this show and I think it held back my performance a little bit, but that’s just part of it,” he said.
The owner of the Grit Training Center in the Mining City had to show plenty of it early on in the match, as a heavy elbow from Menzak gashed Rauch over his left eye.
In a pivotal third round, Rauch managed to take down his Canadian counterpart with a pair of shots to the midsection. The momentum began to swing, with chants of “USA” filling the Butte Civic Center.
Despite the cut above his eye reopening frequently, Rauch managed to muscle out a victory in front of his home crowd, the biggest win in his decade-long career. He wasn’t happy with his performance, though.
“I didn’t really get off to what I wanted to do — I never really got my style off,” he said. “I never really got in my groove … but that’s how it goes. If you had a performance every time you wanted, it’d be easier.”
It certainly wasn’t easy, but Rauch won the first world Muay Thai belt Butte has seen in its history. He will compete in his next Sparta Combat League event in Denver in June.