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Photo of the Day: Alistair Overeem and Dutch Royalty

Alistair Overeem is an ambassador for the world of Martial Arts. It is rare for an athlete to be a world champion in multiple sports, but that is exactly what Alistair Overeem is. Alistair Overeem is the K-1 World Grand Prix Champion and the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion. On top of that, he is involved in the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP and will most likely end up in the UFC after all is said and done. The man gets around and there is no doubt that he makes his home proud. There is no doubt, in fact, because the Dutch Royal Family invited Alistair Overeem to a lunch with the royal family.

Yes, the photo below is of Alistair Overeem hanging out with Prince Willem-Alexander of Orange. There are sadly no photos with the sometimes cute Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, but we'll survive. [source]

Overeem/Prince Willem-Alexander


Weekly Poll Results

Last week's poll asked: Do you train any martial arts?

41% - Yes, quite a bit

17% - Yes, somewhat

17% - I used to, but not at the moment

17% - I want to, but no

8% - Nope

This week: in case you missed it, over the weekend we posted a video wrap up of March's kickboxing action.  Included in that wrap-up was a discussion of the best fights of March (check here for videos from my picks for best fights).  So, what do you think?

What was the best fight from March?


Mark "Fight Shark" Miller Returns to Action May 28th Against Nikolaj Falin

Mark MillerSometimes you work really hard for something and the payoff isn't immediate, other times you just get lucky and are in the right place at the right now. Other times you wait what feels like a lifetime and have to prove yourself and it can drive you mad. If you've been following K-1 religiously for the past 15 years, you'll know the name Mark Miller. No, I don't mean the IFL Middleweight MMA fighter that competed on UFC's The Ultimate Fighter, but instead the Heavyweight kickboxer who participated in a few of the K-1 Las Vegas Grand Prix tournaments at the turn of the century.

If you don't know Miller you are missing out, not only missing out on an incredible story of overcoming the odds and facing a lot of tough competition, you are missing out on an incredible talent and a great guy. Mark is the first fighter to ever stage a comeback after open heart surgery. I'm not kidding you. Check out the trailer to his upcoming documentary about his trials and tribulations as well as his comeback. After his comeback fight it will be a wrap on the film and it'll be released, telling his awesome story to the world.

His opponent is stiff competition in Nikolaj Falin, who many should know as the fighter who competed in the first round of the GLORY World Series against Gokhan Saki. If you saw that fight you know that he is no slouch at all and will absolutely be game competition for the man who was once talking with Kazuyoshi Ishii about being the American face of K-1 with both men in agreement that he was the future for American kickboxing.

This fight goes down May 28th at the Ultimate GLORY World Series final round as a K-1 Heavyweight Superfight. This fight will be huge for Miller and in the world of fighting this is absolutely a first as a fighter returns from open heart surgery and is doing so in tip-top shape.


It's Showtime Announces New May Show

It's ShowtimeMore news from the ever-busy It's Showtime - this time it's a new show added to their 2011 schedule.  On May 21, the company returns to The Sand in Amsterdam for It's Showtime 48, and there is already a solid partial line-up announced.

In a Heavyweight fight, It's Showtime HW champion and top 10 ranked Hesdy Gerges will face Chris Knowles.  Knowles is a well regarded English Muay Thai stylist.  He was originally set to face Rico Verhoeven for IS late last year, but was forced off the card due to travel difficulties.  He's a good pick up for It's Showtime, and will make a strong addition to their Heavyweight ranks, although he definitely has a tough task ahead of him here.  Gerges will be coming in off his career high win over Daniel Ghita, and will look to continue his rise through the ranks.

The fight that most has my attention is a 70kg bout between Mohamed Khamal and Robin van Roosmalen.  Khamal made the jump up to 70kg last year, and promptly made an impact, winning the K-1 West Europe GP, knocking Artur Kyshenko out of the MAX GP, and putting on one of the best fights of 2010 in his defeat of Mosab Amrani.  He has quickly established himself as both a dynamic fighter, and a real force in the Middleweight division.  van Roosmalen is in almost the exact same position as Khamal was not long ago.  The young fighter is currently on a five fight win streak, including defeats of William Diender and an impressive win over Chahid Oulad el Hadj.  Like Khamal, he is a rising fighter, and is poised to be one of the break out fighters of 2011.  This will be a rematch, as the two men met in the semi-finals of last year's 2010 K-1 MAX West Europe GP - Khamal took that fight via 2nd round KO en route to claiming the tournament crown.  With two exciting, young, hungry fighters, this has all the ingredients to not only steal the show, but be a highlight fight of 2011.

One other fight to note is Anderson "Braddock" Silva vs. Jamal Ben Saddik.  Saddik is the fighter who scored a surprise KO win over Rico Verhoeven at It's Showtime 46 last month.  If he can score back to back win over Verhoeven and Silva, he will have immediately established himself as a serious challenger, and a name to watch.  Silva is a tough challenge though, as he holds some big wins over the likes of Hesdy Gerges and Freddy Kemayo, who he KO'd with a spectacular head kick to close out 2010.

The full line-up announced so far:








Andy Souwer vs. Yoshihiro Sato Set for Shootboxing

Souwer SatoK-1 may be quiet these days, but that doesn't mean the rest of the kickboxing world is just sitting back.  Shootboxing has their 2nd big show of 2011 coming up later this month, and they have just announced quite the main event.  Headlining Shootboxing 2011 act.2 on April 23 will be former multi-time Shootboxing S-Cup and K-1 MAX Grand Prix champion Andy Souwer vs. Yoshihiro Sato.  According to our rankings, that's a clash between the #3 and #5 fighters in the world at 70kg, and no matter how you see it, this is undoubtedly a great fight.

Souwer will come into the fight with a considerably edge in Shootboxing rules; an edge he has used to his advantage before, including his quick submission victory over Hinata last year.  He also has the advantage of already holding a win over Sato - the two men met once before in K-1 MAX in 2007 with Souwer scoring the decision win (video below).  But Sato is an incredibly skilled fighter, and an opponent you can never underestimate.  After a rocky 2008, the Japanese star has regained his footing somewhat, going 9-3 in the last two years.  He will be coming in off an upset loss to Armen Petrosyan, while Souwer has two recent upset loses of his own, to Abraham Roqueni under K-1 rules, and to Toby Imada at Shootboxing's 2010 S-Cup.

I see this being a highly technical affair, with both men using superior skill.  The trouble for Sato is that Souwer may just have a few more skills in his arsenal.  In addition to the experience in Shootboxing's unique rules, Souwer also is skilled at fighting in the clinch - and area that has shown to be a weakness for Sato, as seen most recently in the Armen Petrosyan fight.  As he typically does, Sato will have a reach advantage here, and as always, he'll know how to use it.  I expect he will try to keep on the outside and pick Souwer apart, but Souwer should be able to break through that range, get inside, and cause Sato enough damage to take the win.  This is definitely one of those fights where the old adage of a human chess match will come to life.

This show will serve as a benefit for disaster relief in Japan, with many of the fighters already promising to donate their purses to relief efforts.  Also announced for this card are some of Shootboxing's biggest homegrown names: Girls S-Cup champion RENA, Shootboxing 55kg champion Ryuya Kusakabe (who is also scheduled for Krush on April 30, so may end up dropping out of one or the other), and the popular Hiroaki Suzuki.

Andy Souwer vs. Yoshihiro Sato, K-1 MAX, 2007:


Training Diary: April 1

It’s all about the little things.

The pivot on your foot. The rotation in your hips. The placement of your hand after the jab. The step through on your punch. The little things.

Last week’s entry led to a great discussion in the comments about these sorts of issues. As a result, they were fresh in my mind this week, and as fate would have it, they were also a big theme of this week’s training. I started the week paired up with a new sparring partner – one who was considerably above me in terms of experience. This ended up being a great thing, as he went out of his way to give me very specific pointers on ways to improve my form – all of which were very helpful and most appreciated.

The only difficulty is – there are just so many little things to remember. Let’s take one combo we worked: a relatively simple jab/cross. Combining instructor Andre’s pointers with my partner’s tips, I ended up with this list of things to watch for:

1. On the jab, snap my hand back up into place after the punch in order to protect my head.

2. Keep my hands a bit off to the side of my head, not right in front as boxers do.

3. On a double jab, don’t bring the first jab back all the way, and step forward as you bring it back so that the second punch has more forward motion.

4. Give a small pivot on the foot to the jab.

5. On the cross, pivot my whole body, especially in the hips.

6. Bring the cross back right away.

I think that’s it for this 3 punch combo, though I’m sure as I get these down there will be more to add to that list.

When I write them out and think about them one by one, each seems simple and easy to execute. But when throwing the combo at anything resembling a decent speed, it becomes much harder. I get in my head and before I know it, I’ve remembered to bring my hand back, but the second jab has come and gone and I forgot the step. Clearly the key is to drill, drill, drill. Put these motions into your muscle memory so that your brain doesn’t need to do the work – your body does it for you. I suspect that will come, and I look forward to it – because right now I can’t possibly imagine adding responding to an opponent’s moves into the mix. And luckily, I don’t have to. For now, I’ll keep my mind on the hips, the pivot, the step, the guard, the... well, the little things.

For those of you who have been training, I’m sure it varies quite a bit from person to person, but when did you notice yourself getting out of your head and letting your body guide these motions more?

And one more highly practical question for the day – best way to wash hand wraps?

Training Diary is a weekly series documenting my journey starting Muay Thai training. For more on this series, read the first entry here. I train at Conviction Fitness & Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL


Badr Hari Has a Message to His Fans; He's Ready

The Bad Boy will officially return to action on May 14th as Badr Hari is set to face off with Tony Gregory for It's Showtime in Lyon, France. The kickboxing world is on edge awaiting the return of the Golden Boy. Not many feel like Gregory is a worthy challenger, but regardless there is a ton of hype coming into the fight. This just proves that fans want what they want; they want Badr Hari to return to action and crush the opposition.

This interview with Badr Hari catches up with him to get his thoughts on returning to action and how he feels about competing in France, "it is a great honor to be fighting in France," he says, as he feels ready for action.


The Reem Part II, Episode 2: The Tournament Begins

The age of the internet has led to a lot of great things, including being closer than ever to superstar athletes as they globe trot and make a bigger name for themselves. I firmly believe that Alistair Overeem's recent burst of fame has a lot to do with great management and the hype that was built up for him. Overeem's internet documentary The Reem is absolutely first class. We followed Overeem from his Strikeforce title win to his K-1 World GP win and now we follow him through the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP. This is the second episode of The Reem. [source]


It's Showtime 85kg Title Vacant

It's Showtime announced today that their 85kg World Title, previouly held by Melvin Manhoef, was now vacant.  According to their official statement:

"Melvin Manhoef was in possession of this title from August 2009. However, due to various reasons he hasn’t been able to defend his title. An IT’S SHOWTIME world champion has to defend his title within 1 year, and IT’S SHOWTIME is able to extend this period with another year. Because the term of maximum extension will end next August, we have decided to make this title vacant immediately."

This doesn't come as a big surprise - earlier this year I spoke with It's Showtime president Simon Rutz, who told me that Manhoef being stripped was indeed a possibility, especially since the champion had declared he likely would not compete for It's Showtime in 2011.

Manhoef won the belt in 2009, defeating Denes Racz to become the first 85kg champion.  Since then, Manhoef has only fought for It's Showtime once - a 2010 fight with Gokhan Saki that took place outside the 85kg weight limit.  In fact, Manhoef only has two kickboxing fights in that time, as he has been more focused on his MMA career.

While it's unfortunate to not see Manhoef competing, this is a good move.  It's Showtime is really working on emphasizing their titles, and making sure that they are held by champions who will defend them.  I'm glad they are sticking to their contractual promises regarding title defenses, and look forward to seeing what is next in this division.  Now let's just hope we can get Orono back to defend his 65kg title soon.

Regarding the future of the belt, It's Showtime stated "We don’t know yet when and between who the next 85kg max title fight will be. Also it is not an impossibility that Melvin will fight for this title in the future."


Jerome Le Banner NOT Fighting for It's Showtime on May 14th

There has been a persisting rumor about K-1 legend Jerome Le Banner and his next fight possibly being in his home country of France for kickboxing's new powerhouse, It's Showtime. There was actually a rumor that he was the leading name to fight Badr Hari for his comeback fight. The reality is, a fight like Le Banner is incredibly risky for a fighter who is still a top prospect at this point and has yet to reach the top of the mountain. No one wants a guy to lose momentum taking a KO to a tough vet like JLB.

So, there have been talks of JLB still fighting on the card and a few people have flat out asked me if he will be fighting or if we know anything. Since It's Showtime also dangled a possible JLB fight over our heads at the recent Amsterdam card with a JLB sighting in the crowd and the announcers making a rather crass reference to us "seeing more from him soon," the rumors have just strengthened. It has gone as far as people saying it was a done deal that JLB was fighting in May.

Sadly, today confirmed that just is not true. We spoke with the Hyper Battle Cyborg himself to see if this strong, persisting rumor held any weight and the sad truth is that Jerome Le Banner will not be fighting on the card and for right now, you might want to power down on the Hyper Battle Cyborg hype train coming to It's Showtime. Just for the time being, though. Expect more Jerome Le Banner news shortly, but just not for the It's Showtime Lyon show.

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