HELENA — After an 11-year fighting hiatus, Helena fighter Taj Rae will be taking on the Helena Civic Center Saturday in Mountain Force 33.
“I started fighting when I was 17. I was wrestling in high school. And then I saw some guys were doing MMA and I thought that'd be fun to do since I liked independent sports, and tried it out and kind of liked it and then got injured and took some time off. And then came back to it 11 years later,” Rae told MTN.
Rae's first fight after the 11-year break was in April in Mountain Force 32 where he won his kickboxing bout in a unanimous decision.
"That was super exciting. I just quit smoking and was going to do a boxing match before that and it got canceled so I went and did that instead," he said.
In Saturday's MF33, Rae will be fighting in a Muay Thai bout. Though kickboxing and Muay Thai share similarities, some of the main differences come within the striking. In kickboxing, fighters only use kicks and punches whereas Muay Thai can also use elbows and knees.
"The difference for me is going to be more clinch game, closer stuff, not spread out through the ring, and more slips and trips,” Rae said.
And for those who step in the cage with Rae, they'll have to catch him first. He fights under the name "Twitch."
"I'm very unorthodox. Non-traditional. I like to move around a lot. I've got high cardio," he said.
Rae trains at 8 Limbs Muay Thai and will be joined by quite a few others from the gym for Saturday’s bouts. The last time the 8 Limbs fighters took on a Mountain Force event they came out with a clean sweep, which Rae says they will "absolutely" do again.
8 Limbs is led by multiple-time Muay Thai champion, coach Donnie Nickerson.
"Donnie's a great coach, he's very patient, works hard with us all, and makes us to be better people," Rae said.
And for now, Rae is looking towards winning Saturday's fight.
"It'd be amazing. It'd be like a dream come true for me. So the biggest opportunity for me," he said.
Mountain Force 33 kicks off at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Helena Civic Center. The full fight card and tickets can be found here.