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Badr Hari or Tyrone Spong to Replace Hesdy Gerges Against Daniel Ghita

The Bad Boy is Back?Because we've wanted to get to the bottom of this whole Gerges mess, we've reached out to a lot of really strong sources on the matter, you know, the reliable type that is always happy to talk about stuff. Well, no one is saying a word about the Hesdy Gerges situation right now, which to me is not exactly the greatest sign, but could also be good for Hesdy Gerges as I simply think that a lot of people aren't sure what is going on.

There is one man that is talking, and he is talking about the other thing we care about; FIGHTS. Daniel Ghita has sparked a new rumor by appearing on Romanian television to talk about his upcoming fight, which he has no opponent. Apparently there are two men in contention right now to fight Ghita and both of them are very worthy replacements. The first is Tyrone Spong. Spong is the muay thai standout that within the under 95kgs division was seen as the best fighter, bar none. Well, he wanted to compete on the K-1 level, so he bulked up, and the results were mixed at first, but there has definitely been a positive change.

A fight with Ghita could be great for his career and a giant win that he has been looking for. The other opponent? None other than the Bad Boy himself, Badr Hari. Badr Hari is ready to fight, as he has been training since his release from prison and has recently been preparing to fight in May. We might not have to wait that long, though, as with Gerges on the shelf, Badr Hari could very well be his replacement and kick off 2011 with style, clashing with Daniel Ghita.

So, who would you like to see Ghita fight in the main event of It's Showtime's event on March 6?

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How the Arrest of Hesdy Gerges Effects the Kickboxing World

HesdyThe recent arrest of K-1 and It's Showtime star Hesdy Gerges throws a monkey wrench into the whole kickboxing world right now. The first impact felt by the arrest is for the March 6th It's Showtime event, where the scheduled main event was Daniel Ghita vs. Hesdy Gerges. It was a fight that fans around the globe were looking forward to, as it was a meeting of two of the kickboxing world's up-and-coming stars.

The second is that it is a third black mark on It's Showtime within the span of a year. Within a year we saw their biggest star, Badr Hari, jailed for assault on a police officer. Of course with Badr Hari this was not his first time he was in trouble with the law, and with the company that he keeps it was not a surprise to many when it happened. Then later on in the year, Ashwin Balrak, who has fought for It's Showtime, was involved in a cocaine bust. Now comes the arrest of Gerges.

To compound matters, Mayor Van der Laan of Amsterdam has publicly accused kickboxing organizations of bringing with them a criminal element to their shows and has local officials cracking down on these events. To run an event in Amsterdam, according to Simon Rutz in a recent interview, means jumping through lots of hoops to prove they are "clean."

This arrest alone could not come at a worse time for the kickboxing world. Things could get worse if Hesdy is found guilty for being involved in the incident, but for now, it is unclear what, if any, was his involvement. He was questioned last year about the arrest of his half brother, but was not a person of interest. The conjecture and "facts" I've seen floating around the internet are false at best; Hesdy was not found with cocaine at the time of the arrest that we know of, he was not in Belgium when his half brother was arrested last May.

For now we have to wait and see as the situation unfolds.

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Hesdy Gerges Arrested For Drug Trafficking

Hesdy Gerges Arrested on Drug ChargesThe kickboxing world suffered another huge blow today, as It's Showtime and K-1 fighter Hesdy Gerges was arrested for drug trafficking earlier today. The arrest of Gerges was in relation to a raid by Belgium officials in May, where Hesdy's half brother, Ashraf and his friend were caught with 128 kilos of cocaine in Antwerp, Belgium. Gerges, as well as four more suspects were arrested today at the behest of Belgium officials, who will demand extradition.

Hesdy was asked about this last year and vehemently denied having anything to do with his brother's drug smuggling operation. It is unclear what Hesdy's involvement is at this point, but according to at5.nl, during the raid computers, phones as well as weapons and ammunition were confiscated, but it was not clear what, if anything was taken from Gerges. This comes hot on the heel of Ashwin Balrak's arrest for drug possession in November, found with 82 kg of cocaine on him, as well as Badr Hari's sprawling legal problems involving assault on a bouncer last year.

To compound matters, Mayor Van der Laan of Amsterdam has been very vocal about kickboxing and martial arts events, and was looking to crack down on organized crime in Amsterdam. He believes that kickboxing events bring organized crime to the city and parade criminals around as VIPs. He is unhappy with the image the city has and is looking to clean it up. There was talk of outright banning events, but Van der Laan has recently went on record stating that is not his intention.

With It's Showtime's next event on March 6th, it appears that Hesdy Gerges will not be able to fight in the main event against Daniel Ghita, as a case like this will take a while to be sorted out, especially because it involves an extradition process. [source]

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Watch Hesdy Gerges Prepare for It's Showtime on March 6th

Hesdy GergesFighting Stars Presents It's Showtime on March 6th, and as you already know, the card is lining up to be the first big kickboxing card of the year, being headlined by Hesdy Gerges facing Daniel Ghita. Both men had strong showings in 2010, with Ghita moving on to the K-1 World Grand Prix semi-finals where he had a fight of the year contender against Gokhan Saki. Saki was the one that moved on to the next round, but the damage done by Ghita was so immense that Saki was unable to finish out a round against Alistair Overeem, the DREAM and Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion who went on the win the K-1 World Grand Prix.

Hesdy Gerges had a breakout year as he took on Badr Hari in May at It's Showtime's ArenA show and held his own against the Golden Boy until Badr had yet another meltdown and punted Gerges in the face while he was down. Gerges took the W in that fight and went on to finish the year at an impressive 5-2 record for a fighter who moved up in competition full-time. He now finds himself in a showdown with Heavyweight kickboxing's other top prospect, so how is he preparing? Watch for yourself as he trains with renowned strength and conditioning coach Rayen Bindraban.

What a lot of people forget is while all of the fighters prepare for war on March 6th, they aren't the only ones preparing. In the U.S. we simply have ring card girls, they sit at ringside wearing a robe, take it off in between rounds and walk the perimeter of the ring holding up a card with the round number on it. It's Showtime does things a bit differently, they have dancing girls, and they need to prepare as well. Video after the jump.

 

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Simon Rutz Thinks K-1 Will Declare Bankruptcy and Trouble is Brewing in Amsterdam

Simon RutzIf you remember back to our interview with It's Showtime head Simon Rutz, you'll remember that he said a lot of things about why the Amsterdam ArenA show was canceled, and had pointed a critical finger at K-1 for pulling their support as well as their financial woes. Rutz went on to list fighters under his management that have yet to be paid by K-1 and that they should come to him for financial advice. Well, this interview made headlines in Japan, and became big enough to where FEG's Tanikawa felt the need to respond to it on Twitter, where he declared that Simon Rutz helped to "kill" K-1.

So needless to say, there is some tension between the parties at this point.

In a recent interview with Dutch Metro News, they asked Simon Rutz about the cancellation of the ArenA show and what led to it. Rutz explained the issues with K-1, who were supposed to be handling the matchmaking and instead stopped returning his phone calls. Rutz also discussed the political atmosphere in Amsterdam and how disappointing it is that Amsterdam is It's Showtime's home and he isn't certain he can promote shows there anymore. The rest of the world welcomes him with open arms, but his home town is not.

The interview discusses that under current leadership, he isn't even sure if the ArenA show could happen if K-1 came through. All of the legal fees and hurdles Rutz would have to go through to prove to city officials that It's Showtime is "clean" and unaffiliated with organized crime would cost him and the promotion too much money at this point. He of course wants to promote in Amsterdam again, eying a possible October return, but until city officials are more willing to work with It's Showtime it might not be a reality. [source]

As for the K-1 declaring bankruptcy part, that should not be a shock to anyone. Zach Arnold touches upon it briefly, and I agree with him; bankruptcy isn't the end. In Japan this happens all the time, and this has been a prediction of mine for a while; FEG declares bankruptcy and then moves their assets over to a new shell company, things still march on.

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Get Excited for William Diender vs. Rachid Belaini

March 6th marks the next big It's Showtime event, the first truly large-scale event of the year, so we count down the weeks until the event. One of the bouts on the undercard that holds a lot of interest to fans around the world is William Diender vs. Rachid Belaini. Diender is coming off of a tough 2010 with some steam coming in the way of a victory in January. Diender and Belaini met in 2008, in a bout that Diender was able to take the W in after a 5-round war.

Watch this awesome promo video for the upcoming fight, where Diender calls Rachid a "retard" and shows you with karate chops how he hacked at Rachid's legs. It is pretty awesome. We'll be talking more about this card and of course, when it rolls around make sure to watch it live on Fight.nl for 10 Euros (about 13 bucks USD). [source]

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Weekly Poll Results

Last week's question: How would Anderson "The Spider" Silva do in K-1?

40% - Very good, but not GP champ

24% - Average

20% - Dominant, he would win the GP

16% - He wouldn't do well

This week: Ray Sefo is one of K-1's all time great legends.  He's slowed down his career in recent years, focusing more on being a trainer at MMA camp Xtreme Couture, and developing his MMA game.  Saturday night, he lost an MMA contest to Valentijn Overeem via neck crank.

What do you think should be next for Ray Sefo?

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Lion Fight Promotions Tonight! Headlined by Malaipet

MalaipetThe Strikeforce Heavyweight GP is tonight, featuring Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio Silva, Andrei Arlovski vs. Sergei Kharitonov and Sugar Ray Sefo in action against Alistair Overeem's big brother, Valentijn. But, just outside of Las Vegas in Primm, Nevada, Lion Fight Promotions puts on their first show of 2011. If you haven't heard of Lion Fights, they started up last year, the operation is run by Scott Kent and has given muay thai a bigger stage in the US than usually given. Tonight's card features top talents such as Malaipet and Kevin Ross and more.

The professional card breaks down as follows;

Michael Mananquil (San Francisco) vs. Malaipet (Los Angeles)

147 lbs / Welterweight title 5 rounds by 3 minutes / Full Muay Thai Rules

 

Chaz Mulkey (Las Vegas) vs. Douglas Edwards (San Francisco)

160 lbs / no title 5 rounds by 3 minutes / Full Muay Thai Rules

 

Kevin Ross (Las Vegas) vs. Sittisuk Por Sirichai (Thailand)

145 lbs / no title 5 rounds by 3 minutes / Full Muay Thai Rules

 

Remy Bonnel (Miami) vs. Singsir Por Sirichai (Thailand)

155 lbs / no title 5 rounds by 3 minutes / Full Muay Thai Rules

 

Amy Davis (Idaho Falls) vs. Emily Bearden (New York)

114 lbs / no title 5 rounds by 2 minutes / Full Muay Thai Rules

 

Scotty Leffler (Las Vegas) vs. Coke Chunhawat (San Francisco)

140 lbs / no title 5 rounds by 3 minutes

 

Shawn Yarborough (Las Vegas) vs. Brandon Banda (Concord)

175 lbs / no title 5 rounds by 3 minutes

There is also an amateur card on top of the pro card, stay tuned for the results. [source]

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Why You Should Support the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP

Fedor and Silva (C) M-1Tomorrow night marks the kickoff of one of the biggest tournaments in MMA history. That sounds like grandstanding, doesn't it? It sounds over-the-top and like a simple tournament is being made to sound bigger than it actually is. The only problem with that logic is that the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP is one of the biggest tournaments to happen on American soil in MMA, and is the biggest tournament to happen since PRIDE ran its last Grand Prix. Stay with me, because I've received a few complaints from LiverKick.com's faithful readers in regards to the Strikeforce coverage. No, Strikeforce is indeed not kickboxing or muay thai, but it is being covered for a very distinct reason; we care about the global fight scene, a lot.

Zuffa did something incredible when they took over the UFC and helped to rehabilitate the image of Mixed Martial Arts and worked to bring it into prominence in the United States. Along the way, something happened, though. UFC was expanding and growing, but it had nothing to do with Mixed Martial Arts and everything to do with UFC. UFC grew, the sport of Mixed Martial Arts became the afterthought. Every promotion that has popped up since the UFC's initial boom has been left in the dust, purchased by Zuffa or driven out of business. UFC grew, MMA died on the vine. The only promoter who was able to make a real impact and not drive his company into the dirt was Scott Coker with Stikeforce. Strikeforce began as a kickboxing promotion, with Scott serving as the head of K-1 USA beforehand. Scott knew what he was doing with kickboxing and still has strong ties to the industry.

Do you see where I'm headed yet? The global fight industry is what it is, we are seeing a once super power in Japan begin to wither and die, which no one really wants to see happen, outside of the UFC. The UFC is looking to take over the world, and picking over the scraps of the Japanese fight scene makes life a lot easier. The fight scene in the United States is sparse at best, boxing is holding strong for the big names, but for the smaller names the market is showing some serious cracks. Kickboxing and Muay Thai have some strong markets, but they are very much local and can't really compete on the global level.

The Strikeforce Heavyweight GP that begins this weekend has a big fight feel to it, something that even huge UFC events haven't had that past few years. UFC has put on big events, but not since UFC 100 have I personally felt the sort of buzz surrounding a show like this. A non-UFC show getting this kind of attention, praise ad hype is rare and quite honestly, it is up to Strikeforce to take advantage of this and the not only deliver but follow up on this initial show with more strong shows.

Strikeforce's success helps the global fight industry more than most people can imagine, how? UFC is in the business of promoting UFC, the brand. The fighters are almost inconsequential. UFC 100 was not a huge deal for the fighters, sure, Brock Lesnar was on the card and that helped immensely, but it was the allure of UFC's 100th numbered event. Strikeforce is selling shows around the fighters and the fights, which helps raise awareness of the sport itself, not just the promotion.

The over-arching point of this is that someone needs to break UFC's stranglehold on the market, it wasn't EliteXC, K-1 crashed and burned, so for right now the hope is that Strikeforce can at least try. For sports like kickboxing and muay thai to be taken more seriously, it also helps to have Sergei Kharitonov and Alistair Overeem involved in this tournament, with talk of their K-1 participation. Promotions like Strikeforce make viewers more aware of the fight world at large, as they do not have a self-contained empire to protect. Strikeforce will talk about UFC, PRIDE, K-1, It's Showtime, wherever their fighters came from and had success. The Strikeforce Heavyweight GP feels like a global affair. UFC events feature fighters from all over the world, but all of the action is contained within the UFC's own branded world that they built.

So tune in tomorrow night to watch Fedor Emelianenko square off with Antonio Silva, Andrei Arlovski go to war with Sergei Kharitonov. On top of that, there are three reserve bouts for the tournament, including Valentijn Overeem, Alistair's big brother, squaring off with K-1 legend Ray Sefo while prospects Shane Del Rosario and Lavar Johnson compete to see who is a reserve fighter.

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Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Predictions

Here at Liver Kick, we mostly focus on Kickboxing, Muay Thai, and Shootboxing. Spreading the good word of striking is our goal but the upcoming Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix is just too good to not cover. Not only does it contain many current kickboxing stars but it also harkens back to PRIDE and the way they ran tournaments which appeals to all of us who are fans of Japanese MMA.

So without further ado, here are my picks for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. As it could quickly get crazy considering every permutation involved with reserve fighters, I'll make my picks assuming all fighters stay healthy.

 

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