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Enfusion Live #37 Fight Card

Ringfight Promotions and Enfusion Live are putting together a special card for us in Eindhoven, The Netherlands on February 27, 2016. Enfusion said they would be stepping it up in 2016, and they are proving it with their best card to date. Ismael Lazaar will defend his title against his toughest opponent yet in Jahfarr Wilnis. Also they will have the Finals of their 70kg max tournament that was started in 2015 with the winner taking home $25,000.

Fight Card

Hvyweight Title: (c) Ismael Lazaar vs. Jahfarr Wilnis

70kgs Tournament semi-final: Winner semi final #1 vs Winner semi final #2

70kgs Tournament semi-final #2: Mohammed Jaraya vs Nordin Ben Moh

70kgs Tournament semi-final #1: Tayfun Ozcan vs Philippe Salmon

Ilias Bulaid vs Edson Fortes

Mark van den Ouweland vs Koos Kivits

Ibrahim El Boustati vs Yakup Kaya

Horace Boy Boy Martin vs Mohammed Boubkari

Marcel Verhaar vs Bilal Kasrioui

Jeremy Blijd vs Boubaker Elbakouri

Hamza Ahnine vs Reda Narain

Henri Van Opstal vs Mohammed Mezouari

Ali Zoubai vs Soufiane Kaddouri

Khalid Elbakouri vs Ertugrul Bayrak

Fikri Ameziane vs TBA

Samantha van Doorn vs TBA

Ralph Blewanus vs TBA

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Bob Sapp Has a Special Message for Giorgio Petrosyan

Look, everyone can stop worrying already, Bob Sapp is back on the winning path. He came out of retirement and dispatched of the giant Akebono in one of the strangest fights that we've all seen in years where we got to see Akebono's skull while Sapp pantomimed throwing up. This all happened during the numerous breaks in the fight for the doctor's to work on Akebono's skull. 

Weird fight. Seriously.

Armen Petrosyan was in the corner of Jleana Valentino, who made her MMA debut against Japanese Shoot Boxing star RENA in what was perhaps the best fight of the night at Rizin, with Jleana's stand up proving troublesome for RENA, forcing her to go for a submission, which ended the fight in spectacular fashion. I mean, a flying armbar, cool, right? Anyway, Bob Sapp had a message for Armen's brother, Giorgio, and we all got to see it via Instagram.

Bob Sapp want to kill me

A video posted by Giorgio Petrosyan (@giorgiopetrosyan) on

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Masato and KID Yamamoto the Kings of Fight Sport on NYE, Rizin Did Okay

After many years of not having much to talk about from Japan on New Year's Eve there has been a metric shit-ton to talk about instead. The big event was Rizin FF on New Year's Eve, which pulled out all of the stops to try to emulate the glory days of Japanese MMA and kickboxing. The show was both successful and kind of a mess, all depending on the situation. Fujii TV has not had a NYE event based on fighting in well over ten years, with TBS being the network that aired the K-1/DREAM Dynamite!! cards.

The peak rating for Rizin FF was 7.3%, which many are seeing as a win. Kyokugen, the event that the Masato/KID exhibition happened on drew 9.0%, while the Red and Blue Festival reigned supreme as always with 39%.

Is this a win for Japanese fighting sports, or simply a collective delusion? That much remains to be seen. The next Rizin event is scheduled for April and we'll know more then. Interestingly enough fans were more interested in the return of Masato and KID Yamamoto, in a rematch from the K-1 MAX glory days. 

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Rizin News: Peter Aerts Saves the Day Yet Again

This wouldn't be the first time that Jerome Le Banner has pulled out of a fight without much of an explanation given, nor would it be the first time that Peter Aerts has stepped in on late notice to help to save an event. That's just the kind of guy that Peter Aerts is. Once again Peter Aerts has come to the rescue, just six months after he officially retired from professional fighting. This time it was for Rizin FF's big New Year's Eve spectacular.

Jerome Le Banner was originally slated to fight Kaido Hoovelson in an MMA contest, but has pulled out. Last night at Rizin's first event Nobuhiko Takada stepped into the ring alongside Hoovelson and Peter Aerts to announce that Le Banner was out, officially, and that Aerts was in. 

Those that watched last night's event can attest to it being a violent throwback to the days of PRIDE and K-1 Dynamite!! events that kept the lifeblood flowing through a lot of fans, a stark contrast to the homogeneous UFC events that are pumped out on a weekly basis. 

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Rizin News: Le Banner Might Be Out, Fujita or Aerts Possibly in

Fans of Jerome Le Banner that were looking forward to his return on New Year's Eve in Japan against Kaido Hoovelson in an MMA bout, but it looks like that bout might be in danger now. Reports have been coming in from Japan that Le Banner is injured and won't be able to participate in the show. The only press that we've seen on it seems to be inconclusive, to say the least

The rumored replacement is former PRIDE fighter and New Japan Pro Wrestling star Kazuyuki Fujita and there have been some rumors of Peter Aerts possibly filling in -- and we know that he's in Japan right now -- but it's not clear. Fujita is currently scheduled for a bout on the IGF Inoki Bom-Be-Ye event

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Surprise! Fedor Really is Fighting Jaideep, Plus Masato vs. KID is Still On

New Year's Eve is rapidly approaching and now that Star Wars has been released there is nothing in between us and New Year's Eve. Okay, maybe a few holidays, but still, it's just a matter of days now and we are finally getting some clarification on what we can all expect to go down. Remember how initially it was reported that Fedor Emelianenko would be fighting Jaideep Singh, then RIZIN FF and Jerry Millen denied it? Well, I can't find Millen's tweet anymore, because he's that kind of guy, but that did, indeed happen. 

Now, today, RIZIN FF sent out a press release announcing Fedor vs. Jaideep. 

Go figure, right?

On another front, remember how we said before that it looked like KID Yamamoto vs. Masato was in peril because of KID Yamamoto's tattoos? Apparently that fight is still on and while it will still be an exhibition, it will no longer be just a single round, it will now be three rounds. 

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Full Card for Kunlun Fight 35

On December 19th, after most of us have seen Star Wars, Kunlun Fight will be putting on Kunlun Fight 35. There is a lot going on with this card, so I'm not even going to bother explaining most of it. Seriously, just look at it. Sure, Yodsanklai dropped out of the 70kg tournament, which is a hit, but there's just so much talent there that it's hard to complain. 

Card via Kiksie.

Kunlun Fight 35

December 19, 2015

Luoyang, Henan, China

Tournament Reserve Fight - 80kg

Artur Gorlovs (Latvia) vs. Deng Ningning (China)

Tournament Semifinal #1 - 80kg

Dmitry Valent (Belarus) vs. Arthit Hanchana (Thailand)

Tournament Semifinal #2 - 80kg

Artur Kyshenko (Ukraine) vs. Eyevan Danenberg (Netherlands)

Kickboxing - 64kg

Kim Dongsu (South Korea) vs. Wei Ninghui (China)

MMA - 61kg

Xie Junpeng (China) vs. Zhao Yafei (China)

Middleweight World Championship Tournament Quarterfinal #1 – 70kg

Kong Lingfeng (China) vs. Victor Nagbe (Australia)

MMA - 61kg

Kirill Medvedovski (Israel) vs. Wu Tieyin (China)

Middleweight World Championship Tournament Quarterfinal #2 – 70kg

Enriko Gogokhia (Ukraine) vs. Davit Kiria (Georgia)

Kickboxing - 90kg

Sebastian Ciobanu (Romania) vs. Wang Chongyang (China)

Middleweight World Championship Tournament Quarterfinal #3 – 70kg

Zhang Chunyu (China) vs. Superbon Banchamek (Thailand)

MMA - 61kg

Yan Xibo (China) vs. Daulet Userbay (Kazakhstan)

Middleweight World Championship Tournament Quarterfinal #4 – 70kg

Marat Grigorian (Armenia) vs. Sittichai Sitsongpeenong (Thailand)

Tournament Final - 80kg

Semifinal #1 Winner vs. Semifinal #2 Winner

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Rizin FF Announces Jerome Le Banner Fighting MMA on NYE

Remember when Jerome Le Banner retired? Yeah, about that. Combat sports retirements only last as long as there isn't money on the table and Japan's new RIZIN FF promotion has laid out whatever amount of money that it took to get Jerome Le Banner back into the ring for New Year's Eve. The crazy, three-day long event will culminate with a huge NYE event on December 31st that'll air on Spike TV in the United States. 

Jerome Le Banner will be a part of that, fighting his first MMA fight in over five years against former sumo wrestling star Kaido Hoovelson. Le Banner was a huge star in Japan thanks to K-1 and still holds a near god-like status with fans in Japan. This booking is little surprise considering that, even if the fight is a bit, well, strange. It's Japan, it's New Year's Eve, this is the kind of stuff that we've come to expect, know and love.

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GLORY's Mauro Ranallo Announced as Lead Commentator for WWE's Smackdown

Since GLORY's inception the promotion had struggled a bit with finding its voice across its platforms. Over the past few years they've finally put together a solid broadcast team including major finds like Tim Hughes as the ring announcer and the stable-yet-familiar team of Mauro Ranallo as the lead play-by-play man and Stephan Quadros as the color commentator. That team does change at times, but it's usually when Mauro or Quadros have another gig booked in advance. 

Ranallo has been the voice of Showtime boxing over the past year or so, making a solid name for himself in the boxing community while also picking up accolades for his work in professional wrestling calling AXS TV's New Japan Pro Wrestling program. Those accolades have been vast and were enough to raise some eyebrows in Connecticut. The WWE has been looking for a solid announce team for their programs for a while now, with some of their internal candidates either falling flat or simply showing signs of wear and tear. 

So imagine the surprise when it surfaced last night that Mauro Ranallo -- who had been hinting on social media over the past week about taking that "next step" in his career -- was selected as the lead commentator on WWE's Smackdown program. Ranallo, a life-long wrestling fan, seems incredibly happy by this and the deal that he worked out allows for him to continue being the voice of Showtime boxing and GLORY kickboxing as well. 

Congratulations, Mauro, you deserve it.

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Maurice Jackson Exposes the Glaring Holes in the 'Honor System' of Combat Sports

I had never heard of Maurice Jackson, the 31-0-0 phenom of a fighter, until doing my research for GLORY 21. 

When I look back at these notes all that he had a win in Bellator (which I'm still unable to find video of) and that he was big and most likely strong. The little footage that was available of him was old highlights, mostly from MMA or still images. That is usually a pretty bad sign. Even going into the last Denver card where the SuperFight Series was filled with fighters that had little name value or experience there was footage available of prior fights in kickboxing to line up with their rather modest records.

At this point I've gotten rather good at hunting down footage from lesser-known fighters, finding old interviews, promotional material or just going to their team for information. Maurice Jackson, at the time, was an afterthought. There wasn't much to find on him and realistically he was raw meat for Vigney, so who really cares, right? Myself and a few others laughed at the record for being clearly embellished, but life went on. Then the Vigney fight happened and he looked not only like an amateur, but a total amateur. How many professional fighters turtle and turn their back towards an opponent who is raining down blows at them? I've seen a few, but on average, fighters without much experience sparring tend to exhibit such behavior. 

This guy couldn't even take a low kick.

I don't like to criticize fighters because fighting is difficult, it's not an easy job to do nor is it one that comes with a lot of gratitude and money. GLORY booked Jackson under the pretense of his record, his history with Bellator, most likely his size and the game that he spat. Hell, he was scheduled to be one of Jerome Le Banner's final opponents until he pulled out under mysterious circumstances at the last minute, forcing Karl Roberson in, who put up a valiant effort against Le Banner. 

Maurice Jackson is not a fighter who is prepared to fight at this level and wherever that ludicrous record came from is exactly the problem with combat sports today. We've seen MMA leagues that help to inflate the records of younger fighters to help them get into the UFC. Go ahead and search for 'Xplode Fight Series' on Google and you'll be assailed with articles about corruption, lack of oversight, fighters fighting multiple times in one night and everything else a promotion could do that is wrong. 

Kickboxing and muay thai can, at times, be much worse. I've heard claims that Jackson's record comes from "Full Contact" fights, which is a rule set of kickboxing that doesn't utilize low kicks. This is also a style of kickboxing that is mostly extinct these days when it comes to professional fights. Full Contact mostly exists in small pockets of Europe or as an amateur rule set to help acclimate fighters to being hit and getting comfortable in the ring. I'm not saying that it is a bogus subset of kickboxing, just that it does not exist as it once did in a world where muay thai and K-1 rules are all the rage. Low kicks are an essential part of MMA and MMA is the golden standard of combat sports these days. What I'm saying is that I am doubtful that Jackson has the record that he claims, and if he does, it is most likely an amateur record or from "gym fights."

Look at the records of some kickboxers and muay thai fighters and you'll see crazy records, spanning dozens and sometimes hundreds of fights in a short period of time. Trying to keep track of all of these fights is nearly impossible, making most records the responsibility of the fighter and their team, not anyone else. Vetting a fighter's record is something that rarely comes into play because of how difficult it is. So if a fighter like Jackson felt that he was ready to take on the bigger names, all he had to do was present a winning record and voila, he had a fight in a major kickboxing organization with more to follow. They perhaps went a bit overboard with that 31-0-0, though. Yet, GLORY gave him the benefit of the doubt and the final result was embarrassing. 

That one fight, though, earned him future bookings. He was supposed to fight Jerome Le Banner! He got booked to fight Catalin Morosanu! Crazy the ripple effect that happens, isn't it? Did anyone bother to watch the fight with Vigney, or was the record and being able to put "fought in GLORY" enough?

I'm not sure if Jackson was selected because of a poor performance against Vigney and an impressive sounding resume, or if he was selected just on the merits of resume alone with no intent behind it. What happened in the ring, though, was insanity. Jackson immediately backed up to the corner, much like we saw against Vigney, with his hand outstretched to keep Morosanu at bay. Morosanu landed one looping shot that clipped him on the left side of the head (don't listen to the commentary, it was aimed at the right but Jackson turned his head). Jackson immediately crashed to the canvas, holding the left side of his head and his ear.

Now, it was entirely possible that Morosanu's shot landed on his ear, but what happened next was confusing and strange by any standard. The referee simply urged for Jackson to keep fighting. By the look of it Jackson was taking a dive, he was done, he wanted the fight to be over. He said that he wanted to keep fighting, so the ref took a point away and let the fight continue. Then the same thing happened. There was an official from the promotion right by his corner literally screaming at Jackson, Jackson having an exchange with him before he went back to selling his injury. 

This fight somehow went on, Morosanu hit him, he turtled up and then Morosanu just chopped away at his exposed back before the ref called Morosanu off, Morosanu taking another shot that led to Jackson's corner grabbing his glove and telling him to stop, while that same SK official was shouting obscenities the whole time. Morosanu was then, somehow, announced the winner and Jackson was announced to be banned from SuperKombat for life. 

There are a few possible explanations for this, the first would be that Jackson took a dive and just wanted to collect his money, get a trip to Italy and take off. The second would be that Jackson is an inexperienced fighter who has been in over his head this year, felt that one strong punch from Morosanu and realized he was trapped inside of a nightmare. Morosanu is a tough guy who has hung with some of the greats in the sport, he also hits like a truck and Jackson's trash talk upset him heading into this fight. 

A big part of the problem is that Jackson, no matter what happened, did not belong in that ring with Morosanu. He's risking serious injury by stepping into the ring with actual, qualified professional fighters with a lifetime of experience. Promoters are hungry for talent to fill their cards and the allure of a heavyweight from the United States with a very good record and solid resume is too much for some to resist. In an already crowded and underfunded business fighters like this are taking money away from fighters who have earned their chance to fight in the ring while simultaneously being a danger to themselves and to everyone around them.

We need trainers and managers to not just look for dollar signs, but to be realistic and concerned with the health and well being of their fighters. Maurice Jackson is, intentional or not, a fraud on this level and his team has not only exposed him as such, but have made it difficult for themselves to be taken seriously again in the future. The job of a trainer is to ensure that their fighter is prepared for their fight and if things are going wrong to make sure that they don't get hurt. In the case of Maurice Jackson none of that has happened and that should be scary to everybody in combat sports. 

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