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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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Clothing Companies are Responsible for Their Products

It came out yesterday that Silver Star was once again using Nazi imagery on some of their products. This is hot on the heels of last year's Hoelzer Reich incident which turned stomaches everywhere. The bottom line for this should be that using imagery on products that anyone would wear is wrong. Silver Star Casting Company is a MMA "lifestyle" clothing company with association to the UFC. Some of the sport's biggest stars wear Silver Star shirts, from Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, Rashad Evans and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. It should also be noted that much like TapouT, Silver Star was acquired by an acquisition and brand-building company, Authentic Brands Group, and through that acquisition, has been placed in major retail outlets around the country.

Authentic Brands Group is a company that purchases budding companies for healthy sums of money, uses their wide distribution network to make the brand stronger, then in a calculated manner sell to the highest bidder. They were, of course, quick to issue a statement about how they do not support Nazi imagery and how Silver Star has acted quickly. You'll notice in the same article, Luke Burrett of Silver Star was also quick to respond, but throughout this whole thing, there is something missing.

An apology. Silver Star owes the world an apology, they need to take responsibility for their actions, regardless of the status of the designer with the company. Silver Star produced and distributed those t-shirts, hats and other products with Nazi symbols, there should be an apology. (Read after the break as to why they should apologize)

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Watch AFAV's Awesome Documentary on Mosab vs. Mootje

It seems the way to go if you are a kickboxer who competes in the Netherlands is to allow a really tight documentary crew follow you around and document your fighting career. Luckily for us, it wasn't just the brains behind the Alistair Overeem hype train, but AFAV (Advanced Fighters Action Visuals) has been putting together some great videos, and the highlight being a 5-part series about the build-up to Mosab Amrani vs. Mohamed Khamal from It's Showtime 45. As we all saw, it was an absolute-war, one of the best fights of the year. Now watch part 5 of AFAV's awesome series and be in awe.

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Gokhan Saki Wants to Fight Melvin Manhoef in Strikeforce

That headline will read as downright odd to anybody who follows kickboxing. Gokhan Saki is known as being one of the most exciting high level kickboxers in the world, who has overcome the odds over and over again. He is one of the few fighters who is always undersized going into his bouts, but always puts his all into every fight, leaving nothing to question.

Well, according to Saki's Twitter account, he wants to fight in Strikeforce.

My arm is oke I hope to fight at glory and in the summer for strike force!

 

 

 

If you are like me, you don't even know what to read into this. It is good that his arm is doing better now, and is perfectly logical that he wishes to fight for Golden Glory's next show, which is coming up in a few months. The surprise is that he wants to fight in Strikeforce. This, coming off some rather substantial rumors that It's Showtime is looking to break into the United States market next year and that their relationship with Scott Coker is "healthy" makes one wonder if maybe there is a chance of seeing some of the best kickboxers in the world fight in the US, regardless of the banner in 2011.

Of course, the kicker was him taking a pot shot at rival Melvin Manhoef.

Yes I like to fight manhoef at mma fight I win for sure by submussion heheheeheh!!!

 

 

 

Gokhan by armbar, somebody book this.

UPDATE: We've received word that this wasn't just a one-off joke post by Saki, there is some weight to this. Saki is in talks with Strikeforce.

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Badr Hari Attempted to Pay Off Beaten Bouncer

If you've been paying attention to the kickboxing world in 2010 you'll notice that Badr Hari's name has been continually coming up in regards to a February altercation in front of an Amsterdam night club. This led to a brief stint in prison as well as Badr Hari missing the K-1 World Grand Prix, a glaring omission from this year's tournament for all the die hard fans.

Dutch newspaper "The Telegraaf" is now reporting that Badr Hari had originally paid off the bouncer to not come forward with his name. Through intermediaries, the bouncer had asked Badr Hari for 15,000 Euros (around $20,000 USD). Badr Hari's lawyer, Benedicte Ficq, decided that it was in their best interest to pay the bouncer some money to keep him quiet on the "false" allegations. Instead, they opted to pay 5,000 Euros (around $6,500 USD) as to not damage Hari's career.

"It was hush money paid to the doorman, who had been asked to stop discussing the incident. There is absolutely no truth to it. The doorman kept gossiping and chat that Hari had beaten him, which is not true. It could cause Hari lot of damage to his career, so I thought my client would be smart to pay. "

As you can see, this did not exactly turn out the way that they planned it.

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Mohamed Khamal and Mosab Amrani Put on FOTYC at It's Showtime 45

Mosab Amrani and Mohamed Khamal went to war at It's Showtime - The Sands, It's Showtime's 45th show on December 18th. It was one of the most anticipated bouts of the evening and was for the "King of Amsterdam" crown. With all of the speculation and anticipation, it ended up being put in the main event slot for the It's Showtime broadcast, which was aired live on http://www.itsshowtimefights.com for around $10 USD. Basically, if you missed this show, make sure to catch the next one.

Mosab and Khamal put forth a battle that can easily lay claim to one of the greatest fights in combat sports all year, as both men poured everything into their three rounds with neither man giving an inch of being knocked down. The officials at ringside had no choice but to score the bout a draw and move on to an extension round.

The extension round was incredibly close, with both men standing toe-to-toe and both connecting with clean shots on each other. It was dead even until the last minute of the round where Khamal reached down deep and had Mosab on the ropes. This was enough to impress the judges and score him the big win, in what many might consider an upset with Mosab Amrani being a favorite going into the fight.

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