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Shootboxing 2011 Schedule Released

We're still coming off of the big rush of the year-end kickboxing shows when Shootboxing gives us something to look forward to over the next year. There will be 5 shows spread out over the rest of the year, the first in February and the last in November. Expect the big names to return, with Buakaw Por. Pramuk looking to defend his Shootboxing S-Cup Championship honor, as will newcomer Toby Imada who made a giant impression making it further than anyone expected a MMA fighter who specializes in submissions and judo would make it in a stand up tournament. Also returning with be Andy Souwer, Takaai Umeno and Hiroki Shishido.

The schedule unfolds as such:

SHOOT BOXING2001 acts. 1 - 5, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan

  1. February 19
  2. April 23
  3. June 5
  4. September 10
  5. November 11

After all of the surprises that unfolded in 2010, expect 2011 to be another dynamite year for that strange kickboxing promotion with standing submissions and throws. Shootboxing has really gone out of its way to provide dynamic, exciting events for fans of K-1 MAX. [source]

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Tyrone Spong Keeps the Peace

Tyrone Spong Saves Lives at the It's Showtime 2010 Amsterdam Press Conference

This was back in 2010, so a bunch of you may have seen it already, but Tyrone Spong keeps humorous and awkward from becoming a genuine fracas. I smiled. The eventual Saki/ Manhoef match was pretty good, too!

Tensions between them might still be high, if you remember Saki's half-serious Tweet about wanting to submit Manhoef in MMA.

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Amsterdam Chief Justice Looking for Sources in Badr Hari Case

This is a follow-up to the article from the other day about Badr Hari and commentators on crimesite.nl reporting news about the Amsterdam assault from last February at the night club BlinQ (thanks to reader Ramon for translation help). Wim van den Pol of the website considers himself a journalist and the readers who comment on his articles as "sources." Like any media source, he claims, he refuses to disclose their personal information. Amsterdam officials believe otherwise, that van den Pol is a "telecommunications provider" and must abide by those laws -- which means to hand over IP addresses of those posting comments on his site so that they can be questioned and used as witnesses in the case.

How serious are officials? Van den Pol might be arrested if the IP addresses of the users are not forwarded to Amsterdam officials. That is pretty serious and shows just how much attention this case is garnering at this point in time. Officials are doing more research into the matter currently, with the investigation "frozen" until they can conclude if van den Pol is truly, legally considered a "journalist" or as an operator of a website, simply a telecommunications network provider.

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Satoshi Ishii vs Jerome Le Banner Highest Rated Fight During Dynamite!!

Satoshi Ishii may be a bust but his MMA rules fight against K-1 legend Jerome Le Banner was the highest rated fight during the Dynamite!! show with a 14.1% share. Coming in second is K-1 MAX fighter Nagashima's brutal KO of DREAM lightweight champion Shinya Aoki.

Dave covered the Dynamite!! ratings situation and they weren't good. Obviously down from the year prior.

Ishii, an Olympic gold medal winning judoka in the 2008 games, entered the Japanese MMA scene with much hype. He was the one that would supposedly resurrect MMA in Japan. Satoshi had the credentials and potential but so far, it hasn't happened. Between his odd behavior and failure to endear himself in Japan, the fans haven't taken to Ishii. The future doesn't look bright either as he was booed after his victory over JLB by the normally reserved Japanese crowd. It will be interesting to see if Ishii can resurrect his own image before he can help Japanese MMA improve their own. (Source)

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Tyrone Spong Stripped Of IT'S SHOWTIME 95KG MAX TITLE

The Dutch kickboxing organization, IT'S SHOWTIME, has officialy stripped Tyrone Spong of his 95KG MAX title. In a press release, they listed his failure to defend the title in the two years allowed by the promotion as the main reason. Also, Spong's management has made it known that Tyrone will not be fighting at the 95KG weight in the future.

To me, this shows that Tyrone has set his sights firmly on K-1 and the heavyweight division. With Spong going 2-2 in his last four K-1 fights, some may question this choice. I believe that training with Ernesto Hoost and the considerable experience he has for his age, will lead him to success in 2011.

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Overeem Leads K-1 Presence at Strikeforce

 

Alistair OvereemI was debating discussing this story at all. I mean, yes it does involve K-1 Grand Prix champion Alistair Overeem, but there are so many places where the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament is getting coverage that it seemed maybe unnecessary. Then this morning, Strikeforce added an extra fight to the tournament that really piqued my interest.

In an upcoming fight, Valentijn Overeem will face one of K-1’s favorite sons, Sugar Ray Sefo. The fight is not 100% confirmed yet, and it is unclear if it will be on the Feb. 12 card or a future date, or a prelim or main card fight.

Now, here’s the interesting thing from our end about this tournament. You have 8 names in the main draw, plus 4 more Heavyweights currently set to compete in fights on these shows. Of those 12, 3 are current, active K-1 fighters (Overeem, Sefo, Sergei Kharitonov) and one more (Andrei Arlovski) was very nearly in the 2010 Grand Prix. This tournament is a major event – the most prominent US tournament in MMA since Don Frye won the UFC Ultimate Ultimate way back in 1996. For the tournament to feature a significant K-1 presence is definitely a point worth discussing.

Much has been made of the Strikeforce/Dream partnership that has resulted in fights like Shinya Aoki v. Gilbert Melendez and Tatsuya Kawajiri v. Josh Thomson. But one aspect that has been largely overlooked previously is that Dream and K-1 are both part of FEG, so as Strikeforce works with Dream, they open the door to working with K-1. We are seeing that door crack open here in the tournament. Now, obviously the fighters we are seeing her are not K-1 exclusive fighters, and all have experience in MMA; most fans still view Overeem and Kharitonov as primarily MMA fighters trying their hand at K-1, while Sefo has been working on his fledgling MMA career for the past 2 years. But they are all fighters whose recent careers have been more marked by K-1 action than MMA, and who hold interest for K-1 fans.

Last year, there were vague rumblings of Strikeforce considering running some kickboxing fights in the US – remember that Strikeforce started in the kickboxing heavy California scene – but these plans never came to fruition. Since then, we have heard rumors of It’s Showtime making their US debut in 2011, though again, nothing is confirmed. With this tournament including some big players in the kickboxing scene (and right now, no one is bigger than Alistair Overeem), there definitely is potential to generate some stateside interest in kickboxing.

Will this tournament lead to Overeem v. Badr Hari here in America? No, but depending on how they promote Overeem, Kharitonov, and Sefo, it could lead to a significant number of MMA fans hearing an awful lot about K-1 and kickboxing throughout the course of the tournament. Much will be told by how the videos and commentary position these three fighters. If they focus on MMA, there will be little benefit for kickboxing. But if they talk up Overeem as the GP champ, Sefo as a K-1 legend, and Kharitonov as pursuing a kickboxing career, it will give kickboxing valuable exposure to the large US MMA audience. And as K-1 struggles at home, increased international exposure can only be a good thing.

Alistair Overeem faces Fabricio Werdum in the quarter-final round at a date yet to be determined. The winner moves on to the semi-finals to face either Fedor Emelianenko or Antonio Silva, who meet on February 12.

Sergei Kharitonov v. Andrei Arlovski is also set for February 12 with the winner meeting Josh Barnett or Brett Rogers in the other semi-final.

Ray Sefo v. Valentijn Overeem may be on Feb. 12, or may be at a later date. The other announced fight is a reserve fight on the Feb. 12 card between Shane Del Roasrio and Lavar Johnson.

No dates are yet set for the 2nd half of the quarter-finals, semi-finals, or finals.

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Isuzu Tournament to Determine Participant in Next Thai Fight Tournament

A 67 kg, 147 lb, tournament sponsored by Isuzu Motors is currently underway in Thailand. According to Rob Cox, based in Bangkok, the winner receives one million baht and an Isuzu pickup truck, as well as the opportunity to represent Thailand in the next Thai Fight Tournament. The Isuzu Tournament proceeds in a "Groups" format where fighters in Group A and B will have multiple fights within their respective groups before proceeding to the semi-finals.

Group A consists of: Kem Sitsongpeenong; Sudsakorn 13 Coins; Nopparat Keatkhamtorn; Kongjak Sor Tuanthong.

Group B is: Prakaisaeng Sit-Or; Thepsutin Pumpanmuang; Dernchonlek Sor Sor Niyom; Thanongdet Petpayatai.

These fighters are all highly regarded in Thailand and fight anywhere from 147 to 160 lb. Fights are spaced out with one fight per week.


Results thus far:

Dernchonlek def. Prakaisaeng, Points

Thanongdet def. Thepsutin, Points

Sudsakorn def. Kongjak, Points

Kem def. Nopparat, KO Rd 3

Dernchonlek def. Thanongdet, Points

Prakaisaeng def. Thepsutin, KO Rd 4

Sudsakorn def. Kem, Points


Upcoming Matches:

Nopparat vs Kongjak on January 22nd


Of these, Sudsakorn vs Kem is easily the most anticipated. Kem is favored to win the whole tournament and both he and Sudsakorn have put on very strong showings internationally. The last time they fought, it was a vicious, technical bout ending in a third round knockout of Sudsakorn by Kem. Kem will give up two pounds to Sudsakorn in this next bout because of Kem's higher seeding. Though 1 million baht and and an Isuzu is a substantial reward, the spot in the next Thai Fight may be just as important. Thai Fight was introduced in 2010 and is quite prestigious in terms of prize money and recognition. It is rare to see a full Muay Thai rules tournament that offers so much in the way of winnings. Adding to the appeal of the tournament is the fact that the field for fighters above 63.5 kg, 140 lb, in Thailand is quite limited, as attention usually focuses on fighters between 55 and 61.5 kg, 122 - 135 lb.

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Finally, Welcome to LiverKick.com

I know what you are thinking, LiverKick.com has been up and running for a solid two weeks now, why now? Well, while LiverKick.com has been live for a few weeks now, it was with minimal fanfare and really, no solid explanation behind the move, concept and what to expect. Now that the MiddleEasy Network has launched, I feel like a weight has been removed from my chest, the gag order removed and the cat is out of the bag.

Our oral history and mission statement follow.

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Krush Year Begins This Weekend

Krush TournamentThere's still plenty to discuss about the end of 2010. From the poor Dynamite!! ratings, to the K-1 v. MMA debate, to the Fight of the Year, we definitely remain in year end wrap up mode.  But now that it's 2011, and now that we've officially joined the awesome new MiddleEasy.com network (click the link!), let's stop looking back for a moment and look ahead.  Because even though K-1 may not be producing any fights for a few months, there's plenty of action upcoming.  In fact, we're just a few short days away from the first major event of 2011.

On January 9, Krush presents the Krush First Generation King Tournaments Round 2.  Which is a fancy way of saying this show will feature the first round in Krush's tournament to crown an inaugural 63kg champion.  The four tournament fights include:

-Koya Urabe, whose last fight was a win over K-1 63kg champion Tetsuya Yamato v. Korea's Sung Hyun Lee, last seen scoring a decision win over Kizaemon Saiga at the K-1 MAX Final 16

-Team Dragon member Ryuji Kajiwara, who defeated Naoki Ishikawa at Krush.9 last year v. TaCa

-Yuki Yamamoto, a WBC Muay Thai Japan champion v. Krush Rookies Cup winner Takuya Shirahama

-Kizaemon Saiga, one of the breakout fighters of 2010 v. Naoki Terasaki

Winners move on to the March 19 finals.

Urabe is the clear favorite to win the tournament, as he has looked more and more impressive with every outing.  I would love to see him meet both Saiga and Kajiwara before the tournament is done.

The main event this weekend is a big one for Krush, as the #5 ranked Yoshihiro Sato faces Shemsi Beqiri.  Sato is the definite favorite here, but don't rule Beqiri out.  He had a great 2010, including a win over Alviar Lima, and is just outside the top 25.  He has his work cut out for him, but is an exciting fighter, and this is a good match-up.

Two other MAX veterans are on the card - #17 ranked Yuya Yamamoto faces Masakazu Watanabe, and K-1 MAX Japan 2010 tournament participant Yuji Nashiro looks to continue his strong 2010 as he faces Daisuke Tsutumi.

This is the first of 4 shows Krush already has scheduled for 2011.  Up next is the March 19 event featuring the 55, 60, and 63kg tournament finals.  After that will be the 70kg quarter finals on April 30 with the finals on July 16.  With these tournaments, Krush has great potential to capitalize on the strong year they had in 2010.  Thanks in part to K-1 emphasizing the smaller fighters with their new 63kg division, Krush stars have begun to gain greater prominence in the larger kickboxing world.  But Krush has always been boosted by a relationship with K-1, and while that helped them in 2010, it may cause them trouble in 2011.  If K-1 de-emphasizes MAX and the 63kg division, it will definitely have an impact on Krush.  In the short term, it may help them to book more big name fighters who now find themselves with less Japanese fights.  But in the long term, if MAX fades, Japanese interest in the smaller weight classes may also fade, which would be a great trouble for Krush.  This is definitely a pivotal year for the company as they look to further establish their own identity apart from simply a K-1 feeder.

But that's all down the road.  For now, the next 6 months of Krush are bright and full of good fights - and those fights begin this weekend.

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Dynamite!! Is More Than Fighting

Ever since Dynamite!! completed last Friday morning, I've heard a lot about how the show, and the format as a whole, is a waste. Some dislike the match-making. Others are not fans of the special rules fights and think they serve no purpose. I, on the other hand, think the Dynamite!! event succeeds in one key area better than any other: entertainment value.

Let's compare Dynamite!! to the gold standard in the MMA world, the Ultimate Fighting Championship. UFC events aren't predicated on entertainment value. Instead, they are mostly about what goes on inside the cage. It's conjecture on my part but I believe this may be due to the constant comparison of the UFC  to the WWE. Dana White seems willing to do whatever it takes to seperate himself and his company from the circus that is modern Pro Wrestling. I applaud him for that and think it's a great idea. I'm glad there are no locker room confrontations and pre-fight dialogue from the fighters. And let's be honest, nobody  can do that as good as Ric Flair, anyways.

Dynamite!! gives fans the entertainment aspect that is missing in American MMA promotions. When you pack a stadium full of fans, it gives the viewer a feeling that what they're watching is truly a big event. The sets and light shows combined with the fight introduction videos, work the crowd into a frenzy before the fighters do battle. I may not know every combatant before they take to the ring but the intro videos are done so well that I feel familiar with the fighters and their motivations to put it all on the line by just watching a few minutes of video.

The staples of Japanese fight sports are another huge plus. Lenne Hardt and her banshee screams to announce the fighters before they embark down the ramp  towards the ring. Yuji Shimada and the exuberance he displays by throwing his arm in the air while pointing to a fighter and asking if they want to submit.  And who can forget the stalwart officials outside of the ring that are there ready to slap a fighters hand for holding onto the ropes or wiping blood away from a bleeding forehead at a moments notice.

These are things we won't see in the States. Some, because they're impossible with the fights taking place in a cage while others just don't fit into what  American promoters envision for an MMA event. I believe this plays into Dynamite's favor as it adds to the feeling of exclusivity among fans.

Sure, Aoki vs Nagashima was a bust and had no real value when it comes to each fighters career. Of course, Jerome Le Banner vs Satoshi Ishii wasn't a matchup that will go down as a pivotal bout in the history of Mixed Martial Arts. But each fight was just goofy enough to make viewers tune-in. Couple that with legitimate fights such as Kawajiri vs Thomson and you have what has made Dynamite!! such a big success - entertainment.

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