What a night. Nearly a year in the planning, the voyage has finally begun. The opening of the Silk Road Cup marks the debut of what will be an unbelievable journey, travelling back into history over the next 12 months. The famous Silk Road, which once stretched from China to India, through Southeast Asia, Persia, Arabia and into the ancient Mediterranean, over deserts, mountains and lush landscapes, will be the setting for an unforgettable adventure.

The story of exploration, conquest, vast wealth and trade, and the spirit of the merchants and tradesmen who intrepidly led their caravans along this road will blend with the spectacular art and sport of muaythai. The warriors of the Silk Road will defend the caravan as it travels to each historical city on its route. The winners of every battle will win the glory of accompanying the caravan along its journey in the hopes of achieving ultimate prize, protecting it throughout its fateful journey.

The Uzbekistan Muaythai Federation had the honour of opening the first event in this incredible series: without a doubt, they were the right people for the job. It was a colorful, memorable night and while the stadium was packed to capacity, thousands more people stood outside watching the opening ceremony on giant screens. Songstress Sevara Nazarkhan’s golden voice stirred hearts with her opening song, the beautiful muaythai anthem. The ceremony reflected the splendour of the Silk Road, blending past and present in outstanding cultural displays, showcasing some truly fantastic fights.

IFMA world champion from Uzbekistan Firdavsiy Holmuratov won against Latvia’s Kaunietis Jevgenijus. IFMA Asian world champion Ibragimov Yusuf won over Marcelo Tenorio, from Brazil. Aripov Said won against Malaysia’s Chee Jian Kai. The 2010 IFMA World Champion Nazarov Aziz fought a war against Thailand’s Jetsada Pongthong, and after a gruelling battle, Nazarov was victorious. In another spectacular display of muaythai, Botirov Shukhrat waged war against Russia’s Evgeny Makin in a fight so intense it left everyone breathless…when the dust finally settled, Botirov was the winner.

In honour of the victors, a special muaythai song created for the event was performed by Uzbekistan’s very own Ravshan Sobirov to close what had been a night of stunning and epic proportions. A special thank you must go to the Uzbekistan Muaythai Federation and the Government of Uzbekistan. Now the journey has begun and the stage is set. Over the next twelve months, the Silk Road caravan, defended by its noble guardians, will move from country to country until it reaches its final destination. April 2013: showdown in historical Samarkand.