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Ladies and Gentlemen, The Final Promo Package for It's Showtime on March 6th

I feel like we all got to see an amazing work in progress when AFAV released a video of the footage they took of the It's Showtime stars which was to be used for the final video seen below. AFAV released a video a few weeks ago of all of the footage for this Fighting Stars promo, in a way giving us a look behind the curtain for the number two kickboxing promotion in the world's hype package for what will turn out to be the first major kickboxing show of 2011. There have been many note-worthy shows, but for the current atmosphere, if it isn't K-1 or It's Showtime, it just isn't that huge.

Behind the curtain for this video consisted of a few minutes of guys shadowboxing with cool lighting and some text flying around. Honestly, if you were given a behind the curtain look at LiverKick.com you'd see my kitchen table, my laptop and myself shadowboxing (the wine glasses in the cabinet clang against each other when I high kick or feign a flying knee) with words flying all through my mind with Pink Floyd's "The Wall" playing on a near infinite loop to go with my sometimes intentionally lacking grammar. Writing is like music, once you know the rules and master them you can break them and answer to no one but the inner recesses of your mind.

If this video does not excite you for what is gearing up to be an incredible show, I highly recommend you look up the names of some of these fighters on YouTube, as I'm doubting you've seen them fight before. That is how good this is looking.

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Strikeforce in Japan: Why It'll Work and UFC Won't

(C) Dave Mandel/Sherdog.comThere have been rumors since the announcement of the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP that Strikeforce's head honcho Scott Coker had plans on running a leg of the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP in Japan, of all places. He wants this tournament to have a "global" feel to it, and running in a new market like Japan seems like a no-brainer.

I really haven't given this much thought, as it seemed like big plans with no follow-through. Especially after Coker had all of this big talk about running Cowboys Stadium in Texas, a feat that a Manny Pacquiao fight sold 50,000+ tickets to. A bit of insanity if you ask many, as UFC has yet to even approach such a large stadium. Japan, on the other hand, seems to be a very real possibility. On Tuesday night I spoke with MMA Torch about the announcement from the UFC in regards to their "Japanese expansion" and Jamie surprised me with a question about Strikeforce running Japan.

Honestly, Strikeforce has a much better chance of running Japan than the UFC does, this year next year or after. The logic behind this is very, very simple, but also very solid. The big thing is that to run in Japan, you have to be ready to make concessions and promote in Japan. UFC's expansion is, well, underwhelming. They have an obscure pay-TV network they run on and will now feature some mobile video services, but none of this is very interesting to fans in Japan. Without live shows, a broadcast television network and some star power the UFC has no real hopes. Their attitude of "all or nothing" will be their achilles heel in Japan.

Strikeforce, though, seem to know what it means to do business in Japan, and according to ESPN.com's Josh Gross, Scott Coker is planning to meet with Real Entertainment to discuss an April 9th event. When I spoke with MMA Torch, I explained that the only real way for Strikeforce to promote in Japan would be to work with another company, and with FEG's future uncertain, the DREAM partner company, Real Entertainment made perfect sense. Real has fighter contracts (most of the DREAM fighters), production staff, television partners, sponsors and a lot more.

If you take into account fighters like Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem, Josh Barnett, Antonio Silva, Fabricio Werdum and Sergei Kharitonov, all of these fighters have established name value in Japan. For Fedor Emelianenko this would be a grand homecoming for him. For Alistair Overeem this would be the K-1 and DREAM Champion fighting in his home away from home turf. Also consider that Satoshi Ishii could have a Strikeforce contract by then and that Tatsuya Kawajiri just defeated Josh Thomson at Dynamite!!, so a possible bout between Kawajiri and Gilbert Melendez could be big for Japanese fans as well.

Strikeforce also seems to be considering working with Real Entertainment even more, says Gross. Real Entertainment is going to take some of those fighter contracts that they have and with Strikeforce's help, put on a Lightweight tournament, with our without DREAM. It looks like Strikeforce is taking Japan seriously and are willing to "play ball." Now, if it will pan out financially for them, that is another story for another day (or another site, like FightOpinion.com).

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Andrei Arlovski Prepares for Sergei Kharitonov, Kind Of

Andrei Arlovski has always been one of the greats in the world of MMA for a reason, and it didn't really have a lot to do with his fighting ability as much as it did his personality. Andrei Arlovski in the UFC was a breath of fresh air in a world of fighters with shaved or buzzed heads, covered head to toe in tattoos. He came into UFC with wild, crazy hair, a beard, chest hair and a mouthpiece with fangs on it. The fact that his fist could cripple anyone that stands in its path was just the icing on the cake.

Over the years we've been treated to the indignity of seeing him getting repeatedly hit in the jaw and taking a nap or simply being far too timid in the ring. Where was the wild man? Where was the Pitbull? The Strikeforce Heavyweight GP is a chance for Arlovski to prove to the world that he is still for real. He takes on stiff competition from Golden Glory's Sergei Kharitonov and is currently training with Greg Jackson's camp in my adopted home of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Sadly for me, I have yet to see Arlovski walking the streets of the Duke City like I have with other fighters. I've seen GSP bumping and grinding with some chunky chicks, Rashad Evans in a pretty sharp suit, Melvin Guillard jogging, Greg Jackson almost side-swiped me on the way to work one morning, rolled his window down and yelled "sorry, bro" while I flipped him off, and I did my laundry next to Keith Jardine in the area of town we lovingly call the "student ghetto."

Go figure, one of the coolest figures in MMA history is around and I have yet to bump into him walking the dog. Jackson's MMA released a video on YouTube earlier today that shows why everybody loves Andrei, he is a legitimately fun guy to be around, and apparently a part of his training is running full speed at a bag, doing a push kick and shouting "This is Sparta!" while Jon Jones giggles.

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Jean-Claude Van Damme and Fans Weigh in on Kamsing Fight

There are some topics that are just so strange that you have to say them out loud to believe that they truly exist. The mysterious kickboxing fight between Olympic boxer Somluck Kamsing and action movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme is one of them. We've been covering this fight for a while now, almost two years by the time the fight is actually scheduled to take place, which is amazing in and of itself.

JCVD himself has set up a Facebook "event" page for the fight, currently scheduled for April 1, 2011 in Las Vegas. As of this story being published, no one that I've spoken with in Las Vegas knows of this fight and the page itself says that the date and place are subject to change. There have been multiple places named as well as multiple dates floating around for this fight, everything was set to line up with three projects JCVD is currently working on, from a film project, to a reality series, to a documentary on training for a fight. He will also do his first major VO work in the second Kung Fu Panda film and there is talk of him working on a "Muppets" project as well.

His team recently released a video where JCVD publicly speaks about his decision to fight at this point in his career, how he is a normal guy and is doing this because he believes it is the right thing for him to do. Then some of his fans from around the world tell you that JCVD will win or do crazy, JCVD-esque kicks to show you why he'll win (the Hindi dude at 2:33 yells with such conviction).

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If Def Leppard's Guitar Player Can Do Muay Thai, Anyone Can

Phil CollenThere is always a sort of stigma that follows around fight fans, that they can be critical but refuse to learn about the sports they love to criticize. That is often-times untrue, as there are tons of fans who end up jumping into the deep end and training with some of the best trainers available in their area due to their love of fighting. For those of you that might have an inkling of participating, but for some reason don't, here is a bit of a motivational tool for you.

Phil Collen (no, not Phil Collins), the guitar player from 80's hair metal band Def Leppard from about 1982 on in a recent interview with the LA Times talked about his love for martial arts. Collen is a black belt in Kempo Karate and has for years now practiced Muay Thai to keep himself in shape. To understand how weird this is, the dude is 53 years old and maintains a rather rigorous training schedule as well as a touring schedule with the band. He talks a lot about his fitness now, more than he does about his guitar playing (well, I can't blame people there) or the band (ditto).

About 12 weeks before a tour I'll start training, and the last eight weeks I'll work out two to three times a day doing weights, jumping rope, hopping on the spin bike. The rest of the time I work out three to four times a week and try to eat OK. Jean (Carrillo) does come with me on tour, and we work out -- there are so many different ways to do it, and switching it out makes it fun.
We've been in places where there's just a bar or a beam to hang from, but you can do push-ups or pull-ups or do bits on a chair. You can have the most fantastic workout if you use your imagination.

Collen talks about how after sobering up he was looking for ways to get himself into shape, he used to jog until he realized how much he hated it, then started kickboxing and has for the past 23 years loved the sport. While I don't see him stepping into the ring with Badr Hari or Ubereem any time soon, he shows that literally anyone can kickbox. [source]

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United Glory Make-Up Date: March 19, 2011

Just a few days ago Golden Glory announced that the United Glory Tournament's second round show, which was set to take place on January 30th was postponed, mainly due to Gokhan Saki's hand injury. Saki was one of the top-billed fighters on the card and had to bow out due to the injuries he sustained during the K-1 World Grand Prix. The second round of the tournament was set for the 30th in Charleroi, Belgium, but has now seemingly been pushed back to March 19th.

This hopefully gives time for Saki as well as John Alessio, who was also injured heading into the January 30th event, time to fully recover and appear on the March 19th show.

The MMA Welterweight tournament brackets are as follows:

John Alessio vs. Siyar Bahudurzada
Tommy Depret vs. Roan Carneiro

The Kickboxing Heavyweight tournament is as follows:

Gokhan Saki vs. Wendel Roche
Brice Guidon vs. Mourad Bouzidi

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Get Hyped for Diaz vs. Cyborg This Weekend

There has been a lot written about Nick Diaz over the past few years, and his hilarious performance at the recent Strikeforce conference call has helped lead him into the limelight once again. This weekend he defends his Welterweight Championship against Brazilian striker Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos. Cyborg has fought just about everywhere, from Brazil to the US and Japan and fights with that crazy, brawling Chute Boxe style that we all know, love and miss in modern MMA. Robbie Lawler is also coming off the destruction of Manhoef last year to take on Jacare. Even if you are just a stand up fan, you are bound to see some awesomeness this weekend.

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Shootboxing Announces New Fights

Shigeki OsawaShootboxing has made a handful of fight announcements in the past few days as their 2011 act.1 show on February 19 begins to take shape. Already announced was a main event rematch between Shootboxing’s top Japanese star HIROKI SHISHIDO and BOVY SOR. UDOMSON that promises to be a fun fight. Over the past week, 3 new fights have been added to the show:

SHIGEKI OSAWA vs. HIROAKI SUZUKI

Osawa (pictured, in white) is an interesting addition to Shootboxing’s roster. An MMA fighter with a strong wrestling background, Osawa’s professional career has largely been in SRC, where he’s had a number of wins under MMA rules. He’s also an accomplished wrestler and is looking to represent Japan at the 2012 Olympics in London. He’s a potentially great signing for Shootboxing, as Japanese fans love a national sports star, and could really take some interest in Osawa. Normally an MMA fighter with a wrestling background doesn’t have much of a chance in a stand-up organization, but this is Shootboxing, and Osawa’s wrestling skills could help him earn a Toby Imada style victory via takedowns. Shootboxing is pushing the idea that there is a “new style” in the organization with an emphasis on throws and takedowns, and there’s no doubt Osawa is there to help encourage that style. He’s got a very tough debut opponent though, as Hiroaki Suzuki is one of the best young stars in Shootboxing and is the marquee fighter of their 65kg division. He’s coming in off an S-Cup win over Mitsuhiro Ishida – another debuting MMA fighter with a wrestling background. Suzuki shut him down and knocked him out, and will look to do the same here.

Osawa had this to say about the fight and his lofty goals, courtesy of Nightmare of Battle:

“I thought striking was the core of SB but at the S-cup, applying takedowns cleverly while also exchanging strikes, MMA fighter Imada left a deep impression on me. But if it’s me I’m confident that I can do even more awesome takedowns and fire up the arena, and since I’m doing this I want to aim for the Shoot Boxing belt as well. My goal is to have reached the top of both SB and MMA when I win the gold medal in London.”

KUNIYOSHI HIRONAKA vs. TBA

Hironaka is another MMA fighter, although he has competed in Shootboxing before, KO-ing Shinichiro Kuroki at Ishin 1 last February. Hironaka is the Cage Force Lightweight champion, and has fought in both Dream and the UFC. He holds a 2002 win over Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz. No word yet on his opponent.

AI TAKAHASHI vs. ZAZA SOR AREE

Shootboxing’s #2 in the women’s division, Ai Takahashi returns to action here. Last year, Takahashi made it to the finals at the Girls’ S-Cup where she was finally defeated by RENA after two extension rounds in an excellent fight. She’s one of the women out there who can give RENA a real challenge, and it seems likely those two will clash again this year. Zaza Sor Aree is a Muay Thai fighter, who also competed at last year’s S-Cup where she was choked out by American Kate Martinez in the quarter-finals. I’ll be interested to see her back, but I don’t see her defeating Takahashi here.

Those four fights likely make up the top portion of the card, and make a great night of fights so far.

One final Shootboxing note – this weekend is the first event in the 2011 Young Ceaser’s Cup. Hopefully we will have results from that show up on Monday.

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Petrosyan vs. Mabel IV, Amrani, Le Banner and More Rumored for It's Showtime Lyon

Giorgio PetrosyanIt's Showtime has been on fire of late, and with their big Amsterdam ArenA show not happening, all signs point to their May 14th show in Lyon, France to be taking the place of the ArenA for a giant show. We've been talking with Simon Rutz lately, and while there has been a lot of focus on the return of Badr Hari for May 14th and his possible opponent, there have been other fights rumored, as well as individual fighters.

Simon Rutz and It's Showtime are working with famous fighter Kader Marouf to put together this card, and so far it is somewhat official that we can expect Daniel Ghita as well as Badr Hari competing on the show against unknown opponents as of this moment.

One of the big rumored bouts for the evening is Giorgio Petrosyan taking on Abdallah Mabel for the fourth time. Mabel holds a losing record of 0-3 against Petrosyan, but the Lyon native makes for a perfect showcase for one of It's Showtime's international jewels in Petrosyan. Winner of the Isuzu Thai Fight -67kgs tournament, Fabio Pinca is set to take on It's Showtime's recent showcase fighter Mosab Amrani. Mosab just had a blistering battle at It's Showtime: The Sands and has the kickboxing world keeping a close eye on him. Yohan Lidon with take on Mirat Grigorian as well, with both men looking to make a big impression on the big stage.

There is also a rumor kicking around that French superstar and one of K-1's all time greats, Jerome Le Banner will be fighting on this card. More as it unfolds.

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John Wayne Parr to Retire in 2011

John Wayne Parr in actionJohn Wayne Parr has officially announced his retirement. The Australian Muay Thai fighter posted the news on his Facebook page last week:

“Never thought I would be writing this one, but 2011 will be my last year fighting. I turn 35 in May so time isn't on my side. Want to give it everything I can this year and finish on a high. Don’t want to have 5 fights too many and start drooling when I speak. One more year before I have to think about what I will do after I retire, hope it's not washing dishes.”

A big factor in this decision was his difficulty cutting weight at this point: “85kg to 72.5kg every 6 weeks hurts way to much and I don't think my body can go through it much more. Even dropping to 75kg hurts, any bigger I am just too small a frame to fight the big guys.”

Parr has made it clear that he will indeed fight through the end of 2011. He is looking at taking roughly 5-6 fights this year, preferably in Australia. The first of these fights is set, as Parr revealed that he will face his longtime rival Mike Zambidis on May 28 (thanks to our old pals at HKL for the info).  As for the rest of the fights - the Gunslinger has multiple opponents who he has met numerous times, and whose fights help define Parr's career.  Rivalries with Yodsaenklai, Zambidis, and Bruce Macfie are full of classic fights, and all would be great opponents for Parr's final year.

For more details directly from Parr, check out these new interviews with Muay Thai Is Life, and HeadKickLegend.

While Parr’s best days are perhaps behind him, he is far from irrelevant in the Middleweight division. Recent wins over the likes of Zambidis and Yodsaenklai Fairtex have shown that he can still compete with the best, and we currently have him ranked at #20 in the LiverKick.com Middleweight rankings. Like Masato before him, Parr is choosing to step away before injuries force him away and while he can remain healthy in retirement.

A long-time veteran of the sport, Parr started his professional career 18 years ago at just 17 years of age, famously winning an Australian title in his first year. Early in his career, Parr moved to Thailand where he gained valuable experience and quickly established himself as a young fighter to watch. Over the next few years, he competed primarily in Thailand (including winning the 2001 King’s Cup) and his native Australia.

For many fans, it was the 2004 K-1 MAX Grand Prix that brought Parr to international stardom. At the GP, Parr gave Buakaw Por. Pramuk all he could handle, dragging Buakaw to an extension round before the eventual 2004 champ could score enough damage to earn a close split decision win.

Parr’s next big international exposure came in 2007 when he appeared on The Contender Asia. Already a 15 year veteran of the sport, Parr was immediately seen as a focal point of the show. He made his way to the show’s finals before losing to Yodsaenklai.

2009 saw Parr face off with Buakaw once again at the Champion of Champions 2 event in Jamaica. Again, the two went to a razor close decision, and again Buakaw got the nod, although many felt that Parr should have taken the win.

Last year, Parr avenged his 2 previous loses to Yodsaenklai, finally defeating his long-time foe. He called this win “the greatest thing I have done in the sport” and said he now has nothing else he needs to accomplish.

While his career is exceptional, Parr’s popularity is equally due to his extremely open attitude towards fans. For years, Parr has been one of the most accessible fighters, always willing to talk openly with fans about his experiences. You can often find him on various message boards, sharing details about his fights, posting candid stories and pictures, and just taking part in the conversation. He is, and always has been, a tremendous ambassador for the sport.

In recent years, Parr has been focused on training fighters at his Boonchu Gym in Queensland, and will continue in this role into retirement. It’s great news that he will still be involved in the sport, as he not only represents Muay Thai well, but also has much to offer young fighters. His star pupil at the moment is Heavyweight Thor Hoopman, who is on the verge of breaking into the top 25 and made his K-1 debut last year at the Oceania GP.

While I certainly understand and respect his decision, there’s no denying that the kickboxing scene will lose something when Parr hangs up his gloves. On behalf of everyone at LiverKick.com, I wish Parr all the best in his final year, and in all his future plans.

We’ll have more details on Parr as the year continues, and will be sure to keep you up to date on the final year of this legend.

 

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