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Mark Miller Talks About Legends and Family

I know that it has been a hard week for the fighter we know and love as the Fight Shark. The training, the traveling, the unraveling of his mind as he prepares himself to fly to Russia to fight for the Glory World Series against Nikolaj Falin. This is his first fight in years now since his open heart surgery in 2007. MMAWeekly.com has been publishing a weekly blog written by Mark where he discusses preparing for his fight and the thoughts that go through his mind.

One of the best parts about reading the articles is that you get to see a lot of the more intimate thoughts that go through Miller's mind, as well as see a fighter that is well-read, educated and brilliant in his own right. It is a breath of fresh air to know that you are supporting someone who is not only a skilled fighter, but able to think and communicate far beyond your average professional fighter. In his latest blog he discusses training with Buddy McGirt and Rob Kaman.

Here I am years later, and these two men are my coaches. These are the men polishing me for this fight. I feel so lucky to have such a career that I get to work with the people I have looked up to and aspired to be like. And truly, my career has been this way since the beginning. Starting with Maurice Smith and Rick Roufus, two men I still am so grateful to, and now these guys.

On top of that, Miller discusses his father and his NBA career as well as his three children.

My dad played in the very first NBA game ever. He played for the Toronto Huskies. I always sort of held that fact as a piece of pride. He was a part of something big, bigger than himself.

I hope to do that for my kids. I have three sons, all of whom are so brilliant, and so individual. I am so proud of the human beings they are growing up to be. I hope one day that they will feel that they can have that same pride when it comes to me.

This is what drives me when it gets hard on nights like this.


Read the rest of Mark's blog on MMAWeekly.com and of course, stay tuned to LiverKick.com for more updates as Mark prepares for his big return fight. [source]

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Jerome Le Banner vs. Stefan Leko on June 11th in Geneva

There have been persisting rumors over the past few weeks over who Jerome Le Banner will square off with in his next fight. Le Banner has not fought since his disappointing bout with Kyotaro in October for K-1 where Le Banner had clearly won the bout in his mind and the judges voted for an extension round. As opposed to continuing on like most men do, despite protesting, Le Banner opted to simply walk out. K-1 has a long history of "gift decisions" that would make MMA fighters like Leonard Garcia even cringe. Since then, the return of Le Banner has been hotly debated, with long-standing rumors that his next fight would be for It's Showtime on May 14th. We were able to confirm with Le Banner a few weeks ago that he was not going to be fighting for It's Showtime any time soon.

Someone had leaked out over the past few weeks that there was a promoter putting together a super fight between Jerome Le Banner and Stefan "Blitz" Leko. Leko, just vacating a WKA World title due to not defending it, and not exactly being the most active fighter over the past few years was not the most promising candidate for a bout with Le Banner it seemed. Thankfully, the fight has materialized and will indeed happen in Geneva on June 11th.

Leko and Le Banner met back in 2001 for K-1 with Jerome Le Banner pulling off the 5-round decision after a war. This was during Le Banner's prime and Le Banner looked ready to take a K-1 World Grand Prix title. Think of Alistair Overeem's 2010 and how huge of a star he is in Japan, how much of a celebrity he is, and that is where Le Banner was at that point. This is yet another huge bout to look forward to, but one that might be difficult to acquire a video of for a while. It will be interesting to see where both men stand almost exactly ten years later. Watch the first below. [source]

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It's Showtime in Final Talks with US Television Network

It's Showtime continues to march on forward, and they do so in blinding speed so far in 2011. From having to cancel their Amsterdam ArenA show scheduled in May, to all of a sudden booking show after show in a vast array of countries, signing a TV deal with the Fight Network in Canada and booking some of the best fighters in the world it feels like It's Showtime is unstoppable. The latest bit of news was dropped by It's Showtime's head, Simon Rutz on his Facebook profile earlier today.

We are in the last stadium to sign a contract with a big tv station in the USA. Soon more information about this! Meaby our first event on May 14 th is already on tv in the USA!

So it looks like they are in the final talks of securing a US television deal. LiverKick.com has spoken at length with Rutz and It's Showtime employees over the past few months about possibly bringing It's Showtime to the United States and helping expand their fan base. We even ran a contest a few months ago where we gave away It's Showtime merchandise to fans to help spread the word.

The May 14th event featuring Badr Hari probably has the widest appeal for It's Showtime, as Badr Hari is an internationally established name, one of the biggest names in the world. Showcasing Hari in the United States would be a great move for them.

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Sergei Kharitonov vs. Mighty Mo on May 28 in Russia

Sergei KharitonovThe GLORY World Series event on May 28 in Moscow just keeps getting bigger and bigger, as yet another big name kickboxing bout was added to the event yesterday. The promotion announced that two K-1 veterans, Mighty Mo Siliga and Sergei Kharitonov will meet in the ring under K-1 rules. Mighty Mo had a bit of a career resurgence last year when Andrei Arlovski had to pull out of his scheduled appearance at the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16 due to a broken nose and Mighty Mo happened to be in Seoul, South Korea to attend the show. The right place, right time worked out for Mighty Mo, who was able to defeat Raul Catinas via decision and move on to the Final 8.

Sergei Kharitonov was a late fill-in to start his K-1 career, when Chalid Arrab got injured and Kharitonov stepped in to fight Daniel Ghita at the tail end of 2009, only to be outclassed. Kharitonov didn't give up on K-1, making a return to the K-1 ring in 2010. Kharitonov scored a first round knockout over Takumi Sato at the Final 16, which secured him a spot in the Final 8 show in a reserve bout where Singh Jaideep utterly outclassed Kharitonov, knocking him out in the first round.

Kharitonov enters into his fourth professional kickboxing bout against Mighty Mo with the fight being a tossup. Mo is coming off of a loss to Peter Aerts in the Final 8, while Kharitonov is coming off of a win over Andrei Arlovski in the opening round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP. Kharitonov scored a first round knockout of Arlovski, backing Arlovski up and putting him down with a barrage of punches, proving that he has dynamite in his fists. Kharitonov is eagerly awaiting the next few bouts from the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP, where he'll find out who his next opponent is. It comes as no surprise that Kharitonov will appear on the Golden Glory card, as many of the members of the Golden Glory gym tend to fill up the bigger Ultimate Glory/Glory World series cards.

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Shootboxing: Souwer Overcomes Sato, RENA Gets Knocked Down

Masato Delivers Flowers to Andy SouwerAfter a bit of a lull for high end kickboxing Shootboxing returns with a bang this weekend in an event featuing Andy Souwer, Yoshihiro Sato and female superstar RENA. Andy Souwer had a rematch with Yoshihiro Sato, but this time under Shootboxing rules where Souwer is much more comfortable than Sato. Sato was coming off a rather dirty loss to Armen Petrosyan but was still unable to overcome an environment where he could possibly be taken down.

A side note to the main event, retired K-1 MAX superstar Masato was in attendance and presented both Sato and Souwer with flowers before the bout (pictured, right). Whenever Masato makes his presence felt in the kickboxing world in Japan it should be noted, as there are persisting rumors that there are multiple forces trying to pull him back into active competition.

Hiroaki Suzuki was able to keep his winning streak alive in Shootboxing, besting the Korean Wu Hu Kim by decision. Japanese boxer-turned-kickoxer Satoru Suzuki continued to look strong with a first round knockout over Masahiro Shimada.

One of the most noteworthy moments of the show was an exhibition bout between Shootboxing's female ace RENA and a high school student, Erika Kamimura. Kamimura was a late replacement for Sun Young Kim, who didn't want to risk any type of exposure in Japan, but put on a quite impressive performance. They were given one three minute round to work in, and in that round Kamimura actually dropped the women's S-Cup Champion with a hook! By all reports Kamimura outclassed RENA, which leaves fans and pundits alike scratching their heads.

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Leko finally stripped after six years: New WKN Super-Heavyweight Kickboxing champion crowned

By Daniel Fletcher

It took six years, but the World Kickboxing Network finally awarded the winner of a ranked heavyweight fight their world super-heavyweight (96+kg) title, and the rank of champion.

The WKN press releases were sent round, and today their website showed a new champion for the first time since 2005. It was in March of that year that they crowned two very notable fighters from K-1 and It's Showtime their world and European champions respectively; Leko beating Florian Ogunade to win the world belt, and Daniel Ghita claiming the WKN European Heavyweight Muay Thai title with a win over Mourad Bouzidi. Both fights took place on the Local Kombate 14 card in Romania.

It goes without saying that the delicious irony of the situation is that Leko is much smaller than Ghita, both in height and weight, yet his title that night was in a higher weight class to that of Ghita's... as well as the fact that since that night the fortunes of both men have gone in opposite directions.

Over the years, Leko was rumoured to make several defences of the belt, most notably in a grudge rematch with Catalin Morasanu that was cancelled, and against other suggested contenders, but each time the fight fell through. As for the Muay Thai side of WKN, Ghita has never defended his own title, though he remains champion officially. While the press releases say "Heavyweight champion", the website has replaced Leko with yesterday's heavyweight winner Susperregui in the Super-Heavyweight category. The full list of champions can be seen here: 

http://www.worldkickboxingnetwork.com/rating/

The new WKN World Super-Heavyweight kickboxing champ is Stephane Susperregui, of France. He won by second round KO over the Spaniard Damien Garcia. The card took place in Troyes, France, and featured a variety of kickboxing, full contact rules and amateur bouts.

 

New WKN champ Stephane Susperregui

 

While the absence of a defending super-heavyweight champion for several years does not appear major league per se, the WKN put on very regular events throughout Europe, and have had extremely high profile kickboxers competing on their cards.

Fletch

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Rumblings of a RINGS Revival in Japan

This isn't purely kickboxing, but more a general look at the world of MMA in Japan. Sure, FEG has rounded up some of their benefactors to help them with their latest venture, which means that we have at least one DREAM show planned and rumors of something going on with K-1. Outside of that, things in Japan are bleak at best. The sad truth is, for something to be popular in Japan there is a need for a figurehead, a public figure to help generate interest. If you look at someone like Antonio Inoki, he is still able to put on shows using his name alone to get TV contracts, advertising deals, sponsorships, top fighters and professional wrestlers to work with him.

In the same vein as Inoki is Akira Maeda. Akira Maeda was a huge professional wrestling star in the 80's and 90's, and one of the first to really push for martial arts to thrive on its own, outside of wrestling. Names like Akira Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada, Antonio Inoki, Satoru Sayama and Masa Funaki should roll off of the tongue for anyone who fancies themselves a MMA historian, and the irony in that is that each man made a name for themselves in the pre-scripted world of professional wrestling. Each man can be traced to a certain branch of the MMA lineage; Pancrase for Funaki, SHOOTO for Sayama, RINGS for Maeda and PRIDE for Takada. Inoki is in his own world, as he was the one that inspired everyone else and has had his nose stuck into every MMA and kickboxing venture to make it big in Japan.

Takada was the figurehead for PRIDE, and many will remember Takada as the guy with his ass hanging out, banging on the big drum to open up events. Takada can also be remembered from his early "fights" in PRIDE where ridiculous things happened under the guise of being a fight while it was a professional wrestling bout made to look realistic. Maeda worked closely with Takada for Maeda's UWF vision in the late 80's and early 90's before Takada went off to form UWF-i, when Maeda branched off to form RINGS. RINGS was the more serious endeavor than what Takada did, as it quickly branched off into real fights and left a lot of the Japanese pageantry out. Takada made a public challenge to the Gracies by way of sending Yoji Anjoh to the Gracie dojo to get publicly made a fool of, which sparked the first PRIDE card and one of Takada's many career losses. Regardless, PRIDE was huge and only got bigger.

The thing is, while all of that was happening in PRIDE, RINGS was doing something very real and a lot more serious. A lot of the fighters who fought in RINGS went on to be the absolute, undisputed best fighters in the world. If you are wondering who, here is a partial list of RINGS fighters who went on to bigger, better things; Renato "Babalu" Sobral, Ricardo Arona, Gilbert Yvel, Valentijn Overeem, Alistair Overeem, Elvis Sinosic, Fedor Emelianenko, Renzo Gracie, Antonio Rodrigo Nogeuira, Dan Henderson, Matt Hughes and Randy Couture.

So, reading this bit of news earlier today was mind-blowing. Akira Maeda was involved in FEG's "HERO*s" events as the figurehead before that fell apart due to FEG's seemingly constant stream of financial woes, then decided to create "The Outlaw" which serves as an amateur MMA breeding ground, kind of like SHOOTO. The Outsider shows tend to be a bit more gritty than your standard SHOOTO show and the fighters are a very different style from the international SHOOTO style. The thing is, Maeda is not wrong, someone needs to step up in Japan. Don Quijote, the company that was funding and then decided to pull out of Sengoku shows, leaving more uncertainty for fighters in Japan. No one is quite certain what will come of FEG and all of the affiliated promotions and SHOOTO is currently in disaster mode.

Akira Maeda has made a lot of solid, smart moves and is still surviving to this day, if not thriving. If there is anyone that I would trust to help nudge the fighting world in Japan back on the right path, it is Akira Maeda. Maybe he'll even pass on the Capture Suplex to someone other than Josh Barnett.

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Some Notes About This Weekend's Shootboxing Card; Andy Souwer, RENA and More

RENAThis weekend we finally get a break in the action a bit and Shootboxing in Japan will put on a rather big card for them. The main event is Andy Souwer facing off against Yoshihiro Sato. This is a big fight for both men and both could really use a win to keep their heads above water. Andy Souwer has discussed maybe moving over to MMA at some point and has found a good training partner by the way of UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo. Aldo has once again asked Souwer to train him, this time in preparation for his next fight and Souwer has of course accepted.

Sato is coming off of a controversial loss to Armen Petrosyan at Fight Code's Oktagon Milan show in March. Armen used a lot of Muay Thai sweeps and really, for all intents and purposes fought a "dirty" fight. Sato looked good and landed more clean, powerful shots, but the cards were simply stacked against Sato that night. Sadly for Sato the cards are a bit stacked against him again for this fight, as it is Shootboxing rules, which means standing submissions and throws do indeed count. Against a Shootboxing veteran like Andy Souwer he needs to be careful.

Women's Shootboxing S-Cup Champion RENA makes her return to the ring, but not as expected. It looks like her opponent, Sun Young Kim has pulled out of the fight. This is bad news and good news, as it means we don't get to see RENA tested and actually in action, but we will still see her participate on the card. She will now face a high school student, Erika Kamimura in an exhibition bout which will only last 3 minutes.

After RENA's popularity spiked over the last few months you have to imagine Shootboxing will try to find any way to showcase her and bring some much-needed attention to the Shootboxing cause. We'll be bringing you results and further coverage of Shootoboxing 2011 Act 2 when available.

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