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Liverkick Exclusive Interview with Artem Levin

This week we had the pleasure of doing an Interview with Glory Middleweight Champion Artem "The Lion" Levin. Not only is he the best middleweight kickboxer in the world at the moment he is also a very humble, down to earth guy just like anyone of us. He's been doing martial arts from a young age and it shows in his fights by how confident he is and his ability to see attacks coming. We found it very interesting to hear what Artem had to say about certain topics. Here are both the English and the Russian version of the interview for everyone to enjoy.

LK: Hi Artem, just in case some people don't know can I ask your fight stats first? Height, Weight, Stance, Record and Titles (amateur and pro), and Age?

AL: hi. I’m glad to be interviewed. Height 190 cm, weight 85 kg, stance Orthodox, Professional kickboxing records : 50 Wins (33 (T) KO’s, 17 decisions), 5 Losses, 1 Draw Professional boxing record : 1 Win (1 (T) KO’s, 0 decisions), 0 Losses Professional.

TITLES - Pro: 2014 GLORY middleweight champion, Last Man Standing tournament winner (85 kg), 2011, 2010 current It’s Showtime World champion (77 kg), 2012, 2011 current WBC Muaythai World champion (79 kg), 2008 The Contender Asia Season 2 Russian qualifying tournament winner (72.6 kg), 2008 Battle of Champions tournament winner (72.6 kg), 2007 current WMC Intercontinental champion (76 kg), 2007 WMC EMF European champion (76 kg) * Amateur: 2014 Russian Muaythai champion (86 kg), 2013 SportAccord World Combat Games Muaythai champion (81 kg), 2012 IFMA World Amateur Muaythai champion (81 kg), 2012, 2011 IFMA European Amateur Muaythai champion (81 kg), 2010 SportAccord World Combat Games Muaythai champion (75kg), 2010, 2009 IFMA European Amateur Muaythai champion (75 kg), 2008 Busan TAFISA World Games IFMA Amateur Muaythai champion (75 kg) o 2007, 2006 IFMA Amateur Muaythai World champion (75kg), 2006 WMF Amateur Muaythai World champion (75 kg), 2005 WMF Amateur Muaythai World champion (67 kg), 2004 IFMA European Amateur Muaythai champion (67 kg), 2014, 2013, 2003-2011 Champion of Russia

LK: How did you get the nickname "The Lion" is there a good story about it? or did you just like it?

AL: Lev is a cognate word for lion in Russian. I was called that name since I’ve been a child. It has become a ringname when I’d got first professional titles. I’ve read and seen a lot of things about amazing lions. Now I am “The Lion”, at least I’ve got lion’s heart.

LK: What age did you start Martial arts, what did you start with, what got you into it, and did you ever imagine at 27 years old you would be Glory middleweight champion and have multiple world titles? Also I personally love your dancing entrances, they are one of my favorites, when did that start?

AL: I’ve started going in for muaythai since I was ten. My brothers always prepared me for boxing career, telling me that boxing is my fate. Thus I’ve always known I’ll become a champion. Even when first three years of practice I could win nothing. I appreciate my brothers’ work and talk raising me as a winner. I try to relax and enjoy the process. Movies with Van Damme led me to the gym. One of the best moments is his dancing in the bar from Kickboxer movie to sounds of Feeling So Good Today. I enter the ring with feeling so good and it will be a fine hunt for a lion. I’d be glad if somewhen Jean Claude will attend my fight.

LK: We have not heard too much from you since you won the last man standing tournament, what have you been up too?

AL: I won Russian National Championships in August. I’ve taken some rest after the great tournament. There were other things to get done. I’m in the game again, I’m hungry and I’m ready for the fights. And I’m excited to step in the ring. LK: Can you tell us the full Glory 17: Last Man Standing experience starting from arriving in LA to waking up next to your belt the next morning?

AL: I’ve been glad to see sunny Los Angeles after a very long trip. LA gives a sustained energy. I’ve been boxing here several times. But for the first time I was here with a large crew from Russia. Thanks to all my team. And other guys from US came to support me, from The Boxing Club of San Diego particularly. I’m on training camp here currently. There are my friends, so I haven’t been alone. I’ve walked on the ocean beach. The energy it gives. Nothing compares. I’ve taken power, force, strength from it to win the tournament. There were organizing issues, shoots, interviews and work outs each day. It exhausted me, but my team have made everything to make me feel ready and charged to the fullest by the start of the show. I’ve got no any powers after the tournament. I’ve gone out at the arena with no emotions. And couldn’t believe in that it’s real, it happens to me for a month.

LK: Also, this is a question I had to ask, What is your opinion of your first fight with Joe Schilling, especially the extra round and what did you adjust for the second fight to make sure nothing like that could happen again? Would you like to fight him one more time to show people the first time was lucky?

AL: It’s become the main motivation to the next fight. Everybody has seen what’s happened there. I’ve made a mistake in the second round, thought I’d won the fight already. And Joe punished me. It lead to extra round. Judges took away the victory, but it’s my fault actually. Scoring in GLORY is an interesting story. I can give out a point before the bell, because I know they will find a way to take it somehow. And again about the fight against Joe, I’ve been ready to everything, to Joe’s tactical and technical suprises, to judges’s surprises, that’s my aim was to come out and win undoubtely. Joe is a really considerable fighter, brave with strong heart. I support him always in other fights.

LK: I've always noticed that you also fight in the IFMA or SportAccord Muay Thai championships with headgear, shinpads and full gear, what keeps such an accomplished fighter like yourself going back to these tournaments every year?

AL: I have certain responsibilities before Russian Muaythai Federation. And I am the captain of Russian national muaythai team. I’m honoured to lead the team and to contribute to development of muaythai in Russia.

LK: Tell us about where you do most of your training?

AL: it’s my homeland, Prokopyevsk is a small town in Siberia. My coach is a man who made my first victory on local amateur championship at age of 13 and who was in the corner when I won prestigious world pro titles, including GLORY. He’s like second farther to me. I’m on training camp in San Diego’s The Boxing Club now.

LK: You have a new young talent Artem Vakhitov that you train with he is rated #6 in Glory right now, do you think he will become Glory Light Heavyweight champion this year? Also what happened with him no longer being in the Glory 18 tournament on Nov 7?

AL: It all depends on Artem. He’s young, hungry, ambitious and he wants the title. So, he’s able to achieve it. As far as I know he concentrates on health and recreation, not to worsen latest injuries. He will perform much better on the next events.

LK: Any talks with Glory about who you will be defending your belt against next? Or is there anyone that you want to fight next if you could choose?

AL: it doesn’t matter who is the opponent. You should win the strongest to be the best. There we no negotiations on the point. I don’t know what does the pause in sequence of events means. But as soon as the belt I mine, I’m opened for discussion with ace in my glove.

LK: Last question is one I like to ask every fighter:

  • Hardest Puncher you've fought? AL: Yodsaenklai Fairtex
  • Hardest Kicker You've fought? AL: Yodsaenklai Fairtex
  • Hardest Fight? AL: it’s yet ahead
  • Favourite Fighter? AL: Ernesto Hoost

Artem Levin about Manhoef vs Schilling on Bellator 131:

AL: It will be an amazing event. The advantage in the bout will be on Melvin’s side. He is more experienced and proficient in mixed fight. He will do much better in parter. Joe’s strong points are longer reach, he should keep distance and use knees. He should be self-reliant: be focused and maintain fight plan. Both fighters have a knock-out punch and this can result an interesting bout. I will support Joe and I will attend the event. If he needs any help in preparation for the fight I’m totally in. He’s congenial soul, he’s been around the block. I do respect Melvin though, if he’s fought

LK: Thank you so much for your time Artem, would you like to say a few things to all your fans, sponsors, trainers etc?

AL: Watch my fights. Follow me in instagram and twitter. Ask me. Let’s communicate. I thank my team, I appreciate your support. I enclose gratitude to my coach Vitaly Miller, to my manager Sergey Busygin, therapist Evgeny Startsev and my family. And I appreciate the support of Stroyservice company, which contribute to my career and development of muaythai in Russia.

LK: Thanks again Artem, all of us at Liverkick are huge fans of you and your style in the ring and are looking forward to you watching you defend the Glory title this year.

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ЛК: привет, Артем. Для тех, кто незнаком с твоей биографией, немного обзорной информации. Рост, вес, стойка, счет боев и титулы (любительские и профессиональные), возраст.

АЛ: доброе время суток !)рад отвечать на ваши вопросs !) рост 190, вес 85, правша. Счет профессиональных боев : 50 Побед (33 (Тех) Нокаутом, 17 Решением), 5 Поражений, 1 Ничья

Счет любительских боев: не ведет

Счет боев по проф.боксу: 1 Победа (1 (Тех) Нокаутом, 0 Решением), 0 Поражений

Титулы

Профессиональные

        2014 действующий чемпион GLORY, победитель 8-ки Last Man Standing (85 кг)

        2011, 2010 действующий чемпион мира It’s Showtime (77 кг)

        2012, 2011 действующий чемпион мира WBC Muay Thai (79 кг)

        2008 победитель отборочного турнира The Contender Asia Season 2 (72,6 кг)

        2008 победитель турнира Битва Чемпионов (72,6 кг)

        2007 действующий интерконтинентальный чемпион WMC (76 кг)

        2007 чемпион Европы WMC-EMF (76 кг)

Любительские

        2014 чемпион России (86 кг)

        2013 чемпион Всемирных игр боевых искусств (81 кг)

        2012 чемпион мира среди любителей IFMA (81 кг)

        2012, 2011 чемпион Европы среди любителей IFMA (81 кг)

        2010 чемпион Всемирных игр боевых искусств (75 кг)

        2010, 2009 чемпион Европы среди любителей IFMA (75 кг)

        2008 чемпион мира среди любителей IFMA на всемирных играх TAFISA в Пусане (75 кг)

        2007, 2006 чемпион мира среди любителей IFMA (75 кг)

        2006 чемпион мира среди любителей WMF  (75 кг)

        2005 чемпион мира среди любителей WMF  (67 кг)

        2004 чемпион Европы среди любителей IFMA (67 кг)

        2014, 2013, 2003-2011 чемпион России IFMA

ЛК: откуда твое прозвище Лев? Какая-то история за ним стоит? Или просто нравится так?

АЛ: вообще, на русском языке «лев» - это корень моей фамилии. С детства старшие товарищи и друзья называли так. Со временем, когда появились первые титулы, и я вышел на профессиональный ринг это само перетекло в рингнейм, но с детства я много читал о львах, смотрел передачи и восхищался им и теперь моя задача соответствовать ему. Сейчас я и есть "лев" или как минимум с сердцем льва!))))

ЛК: Во сколько лет ты начал заниматься боевыми искусствами? С какого вида начал? Что привело тебя в спорт? Думал ли ты, что в 27 лет ты станешь чемпионом Глори в среднем весе и будет столько титулов чемпиона мира? Лично мне очень нравится выход с танцами. Один из тех, что мне очень нравятся, как это появилось?

АЛ: я начал заниматься муайтай в возрасте 10 лет, но до десяти лет мои старшие братья вели со мной так сказать психологическую работу, что бокс это мое все, что я вырасту и стану чемпионом, поэтому я никогда не сомневался, что буду чемпионом. Даже когда в первые три года я не мог выиграть не одних соревнований. Спасибо моим братьям, которые так глубоко посеяли семя победителя в моей голове! Во время выхода на ринг я пытаюсь расслабиться и получать удовольствие от процесса. В тайский бокс меня привели фильмы Ван Дамма! И, естественно, я помню его танец в баре в фильме «Кикбоксер» под песню Feeling So Good Today)! И когда я выхожу на ринг, я чувствую, что сегодня должен быть хороший день и славная охота для льва!) Моя мечта, что бы Жан Клод присутствовал на моих боях когда-нибудь)))

ЛК: не было ничего слышно о тебе с тех пор, как ты победил в восьмерке «оставшийся в живых». Что у тебя произошло за это время?

АЛ: В августе я выиграл чемпионат России. Я отдыхал психологически после такого турнира. Плюс есть дела по мимо спорта. Сейчас я опять в деле, я голоден, я жду боев и мне не терпится выйти на ринг.

ЛК: Расскажи поподробнее про участие в турнире восьмерке ГЛОРИ начиная с приезда в ЛА до того как ты проснулся на следующее утро после боев чемпионом.

АЛ: После долгой дороги я был рад видеть солнечный Лос Анджелес. Опять он меня заряжает. Я не первый раз боксировал здесь. Впервые со мной приехала большая группа поддержки из России. Спасибо им огромное! Плюс много ребят со Штатов, в частности из клуба "The Boxing Club" в Сан Диего. Сейчас я провожу здесь сборы, и у меня много друзей в этом зале, так что во время боя я был не один. В обязательную программу входила поездка на океан. Его энергетика это нечто. Сила, мощь, могущество - это все я пытался взять себе в помощь на турнир. Ежедневно были организационные вопросы, съемки, интервью и, конечно, тренировочный процесс. Это все изматывает, но моя команда сделала все, чтобы к моменту начала турнира я был готов и заряжен на все 100. После турнира я был обессилен в первую очередь психологически. У меня абсолютно не было эмоций после того как я вышел из арены. На протяжении месяца я не мог поверить, что это сделал.

ЛК: еще один вопрос, который я очень хотел задать. Твое мнение о первом поединке с Джо Шиллингом, особенно по поводу дополнительного раунда. Готовился ли ты ко второму бою так, чтобы ничего подобного больше не произошло? Хотел бы ты еще один поединок с ним, чтобы доказать, что его победа в первом бое была случайностью?

АЛ: само собой это было одним из главных мотиваторов к бою. Вы все видели, что было в первом бою. Я допустил ошибку во втором раунде, подумав, что победа у меня в кармане, и Джо меня наказал. Это послужило поводом к допраунду. Судьи забрали у меня эту победу, но по большому счету это моя вина в первую очередь. А по поводу судей в ГЛОРИ это отдельная история. Я могу еще перед боем отдавать им по баллу, зная, что они все равно найдут повод снять его с меня во время боя. Возвращаясь к Джо, хочу сказать, что я был готов ко всему, к реваншу и к сюрпризам от Джо как в технике, так и в тактике, так и к сюрпризам от судей, поэтому моя задача была выходить и выигрывать, так что бы ни у кого не возникало сомнений. Что касается его, то это действительно достойный боец, храбрый с сильным сердцем. В других боям я практически всегда теперь болею за него!

ЛК: я хотел бы подчеркнуть, что ты участвуешь так же в чемпионатах ИФМА и СпортАккорда, где приходится одевать шлем, налокотники и другую защитную эпипировку. Что заставляет состоявшегося успешного бойца как ты участвовать в этих соревнованиях каждый год?

АЛ: У меня есть определенные обязанности перед федерацией тайского бокса России, и являюсь капитаном сборной России. Для меня честь поддерживать сборную и вносить свой вклад в развитие муайтай в России. ЛК: расскажи, где ты чаще всего тренируешься?

АЛ: Это родина моя. Маленький провинциальный город в Сибири – Прокопьевск. Мой тренер- это тот человек, с которым пришла моя первая победа в возрасте 13 лет на чемпионате города, и он же, с кем я завоевал все главные титулы в своей карьере, включая ГЛОРИ. Это мой второй отец. Сейчас я часто провожу сборы и тренируюсь в Сан Диего в "The Boxing Club"

ЛК: у вас появился молодой перспективный боец Артем Вахитов, с которым ты вместе тренируешься. Он 6 номер рейтинга ГЛОРИ сейчас. Как думаешь, станет он чемпионом ГЛОРИ в тяжелом весе в этом году? И что случилось, почему его нет в 4-ке ГЛОРИ18 7 ноября?

АЛ: Все в руках Артема. Он голодный, молодой, амбициозный, и он хочет этот титул. Думаю, что это вполне ему по плечу. Насколько я знаю, он решил уделить внимание своему здоровью, что бы не усугубить старые травмы и на следующих турнирах быть уже только лучше.

ЛК: обсуждали ли с ГЛОРИ кто будет следующим соперником на защиту пояса? Или кого бы ты сам выбрал на защиту?

АЛ: Мне без разницы с кем боксировать. Чтобы быть лучшим, нужно бить лучших. С ГЛОРИ мы не обсуждали. Я не знаю, куда они пропали, и с чем связана их пауза в турнирах. Но теперь пояс у меня, и я с удовольствием выйду на переговоры, но уже с козырем в своей перчатке.

ЛК: последний вопрос я задаю всем бойцам Самый сильный панчер из твоих соперников? АЛ: Йодсенклай Фейртекс ЛК: кто сильнее всех из твоих соперников бьет ногами? АЛ: Йодсенклай Фейртекс ЛК: самый трудный бой? АЛ: самый трудный бой еще впереди! ЛК: любимый боец? АЛ: Эрнесто Хуст

Это будет потрясающее событие. И думаю, в данном бою преимущество будет у Мелвина. Он более опытен и искушен в смешанных боях, и чувствовать себя в партере он будет себя намного лучше, нежели Джо. Что касаемо Джо, он крупнее, его конечности длиннее, он должен держать дистанцию и не подпускать Мелвина к себе, должен использовать колени. Я думаю, что все в его руках. Он должен быть сконцентрирован и делать свою работу, выполняя план на бой. Оба бойца могут ударить так, что велика вероятность нокаута, и этим уже бой будет интересен! Я буду болеть за Джо и буду присутствовать в зале. Если ему понадобится какая-нибудь помощь в подготовке, я сделаю все возможное. Этот парень мне близок по духу, он через многое прошел. Мелвина я уважаю, он достойный боец, и если бы он встретился в клетке с кем-то другим, мои симпатии были бы на его стороне. Обожаю его стиль. Он словно маленький бульдог, желающий разодрать своих соперников.

ЛК: спасибо, Артем, за уделенное время. В завершении беседы пару слов для твоих болельщиков, спонсоров, тренеров и тд.

АЛ: Следите за моими боями. Подписывайтесь в инстаграм и твиттер. Задавайте вопросы. Будем общаться. Спасибо моей команде, что они со мной, моему тренеру Миллеу В.В., моему менеджеру Бусыгину С.Ю., массажисту Старцеву Е.В. и моей семье. И большое спасибо компании «Стройсервис» за огромную помощь мне и развитию тайского бокса в России.

ЛК: еше раз спасибо Артем. Все мы в ливеркик твои болельщики и фанаты твоей манеры в ринге. Ждем с нетерпением защиты титула в этом году.

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Interview with Daniella Éltető - The Machine from Hungary

Hungary's 19 year old phenom, Daniella Éltető has won yet another pro world title. She stepped into the ring recently 11-Oct-2014 at Fight 4 Glory's event in Switzerland for WKU's Pro Muay Thai title. Her opponent was french muay thai National Champion Magali Foroni (34). Foroni with a championship to her name has achieved a lot in her career and gained lots of experience. Fans could see her fighting Tiffany Van Soest at Lion Fight 12 in 2013. No Hungarian female fighter had WKU's pro Muay Thai title before which makes the win even more special.  We interviewed "The Machine" the next day of the fight to ask a few questions on the fight and her plans. 

Q: - Hello Daniella! First of all, congrats on the huge win! How hard was keeping everything in sync and prepare while you had to learn as well? You recently started University, right?

A: - Thank you guys. Yes it wasn't easy at all. There were tons of stuff to do because of my studies and I had to pull out of two fights as well because of health issues. The first one would've been a WKN title fight in Bosnia and the other one for a pro Muay Thai title in Romania.

Q: - Did you arrive for the fight or you got to Switzerland a bit earlier so you could train and acclimate a bit?

A: - Unfortunately I couldn't get  there earlier as I had an exam right before the fight on Thursday..

Q: - What was the biggest challenge against Foroni? Did you find some holes in her game, some weak points?

A: - She's tried to keep me under pressure but we prepared for this fight. Our strategy was to attack the legs so every time the opportunity arised I went for it. I've landed many inside and outside low kicks but she was quite enduring. In the 4th round I've managed to get her in the clinch and landed many knees and elbows until finally they've thrown in the towel.

Q: - What's next? Do you have any plans for the rest of the year or do you want to take some time off and focus on your studies?

A: - There's another big fight right on the corner. If all goes well I'll fight in about two weeks in Milan. I have some small injuries but I expect to heal up just fine by then. I need a few days off and after that I'll be right back into preparing for the next battle.

Q: - Congrats upon the great win and being the first female combat sports athlete form Hungary to ever wear WKU's pro Muay Thai belt. Any message to the fans?

A: - First of all I'd like to thank Shindokai-Kan Hungary – KYO-Shin SE, my master/trainer/dad Péter Éltető and János Laub for helping me to prepare for this fight and everyone else for the encouragement, congratulations.

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Five Questions With GLORY's Marc de Bonte

Throughout the history of kickboxing and muay thai, Holland, Thailand and Japan have been the hotspots for stars in the sport. Although there have been numerous practitioners from other countries, rarely did they achieve the level of success or acclaim of their peers in the aforementioned countries. Thanks to organizations like the now defunct, It's Showtime and more recently Glory Sports International, stars from the United States and throughout western Europe and Asia are receiving more attention. Belgium, for instance, internationally known for numerous Tour de France victories as well as strong showings in motor racing and motocross has not been so well known for stars inside the ring, if you don't count 1980's action star Jean-Claude Van Damme. Today, however the land known for its delicious chocolates, fine arts and picturesque beauty is quickly becoming one of the hotspots for future stars in the sport, much due to strong showings over the last few years by Filip Verlinden, Marc DeBonte, Marat Grigorian and Jamal Ben Saddik .

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to ask Marc DeBonte a few questions about his career and goals for the future.

SW: At what age did you begin training?

MD: I started young at 6 years of age and also did my first youth fight at that age.

SW: You are currently ranked number 3 in Glory with a 2-2 record thus far, what is your overall professional record?

MD: My overall professional record is 87 wins-12 loses-1 draw

SW: You are known for your brutal knees, what do you feel are your other strengths as a fighter?

MD: Mostly I feel my boxing and knees are my best points but I am pretty all round and I can adapt pretty fast to any style.

SW: I'm sure one of your goals this year is to regain the belt from Valtellini, any other goals for this year?

MD: Yes to regain the belt and win the tournament at the end of the year, also to get my ranking in professional boxing up. We will see how it goes .

SW: I know you have trained in Hemmers Gym. Where are you currently training?

MD: I train at Tay gym with my trainer Ludo Kaethoven who has been my trainer for the last 8 years now. We work together with Hemmers Gym to get good quality sparring since a lot of high level Glory fighters train there as well.

With the year having reached the 3/4 mark, it is debatable as to whether DeBonte will be rematched with Valtellini by year's end. A rematch, however seems inevitable and the world will see whether improvements in DeBonte's boxing will be sufficient to push him past Valtellini's Tae Kwon Do base and equally powerful legs and low kicks. Whether it's 2014 or 2015, the rematch between DeBonte and Valtellini promises to be explosive.

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K-1's Ned Kuruc Talks Amateur Open and K-1 World MAX Finals

Since the formation of K-1 Global there have been some ups and downs for the K-1 name, but we’ve definitely all come to a consensus that under K-1’s current management they want the best for the brand and for the sport. K-1 is set to continue pushing forward over the next few month with a few events that will look to solidify the brand’s place in the current market for kickboxing. The first is in September in the UK, being touted as an open amateur scouting event. We’ve spoken with Ned Kuruc of K-1 a few times before and he’s spoken about how important they feel that an amateur system is for the future of the sport and this Amateur Open is just further proof of that. The second event is, of course, the K-1 World MAX Finals, where Buakaw Banchamek will compete against Enriko Kehl and other great fights.

We caught up with Ned Kuruc to discuss both of these events as well as the future of K-1. The first thing is that K-1 will be holding an Amateur Open on the 13th and 14th of September in the UK, which has attracted a lot of attention thus far. “As of right now we’ve had 500 inquiries and 50 countries have shown interest. We don’t really have hard numbers on this yet because the deadline is September 2nd. Tons of interest shown already, though.”

How does it play into the future of K-1, though? K-1 has always been the home of the top level of fighters, so it is an interesting turn to shift some of their focus to the future. “There is a bit of a generation gap -- or a generation loss -- and I believe that through the amateur system that it’s the best way to get the K-1 brand associated with kids that are coming up and for all martial arts. K-1 isn’t just about kickboxing, it’s about martial arts and it’s a platform for those involved to test their skills and see who is the best in the world. With that being said, the amatuer system is, what I feel, is the best way to get the brand associated with those up-and-coming fighters and kids who don’t remember K-1 like you or I do.

“Not only is this a good way for us to raise brand awareness across generations right now, but there are a lot of fighters out there who want to test their skills. K-1 is a high, high level, it’s the pinnacle of standup sports. There are amatuer groups out there that already have K-1 rules and make champions in these weight classes. K-1 is okay with that, because it is a sport unto itself. Our brand is its own sport,” he explains. “In the past no one has wanted to venture into amatuer sports. Just like when K-1 was founded, we want this to be an open tournament where we really are able to find the best fighters from across the world to compete under the K-1 banner.”

It’s a point that will ring true for fans of K-1, where the K-1 concept originally started under the premise of pulling all of the best fighters from across the world together under one banner and to have them compete against each other. As with anything else, though, it was a business and building stars became the main focus. So the scene began to only host the top few names year-in and year-out, which was exciting, but may have led to excluding other talents who were coming up through the ranks of amateur and professional leagues but couldn’t break into K-1 because fans in Japan wanted to see the names that they knew and loved.

“We want to give opportunities to the best fighters out there. The old K-1 was a bit of an old boys club where if you didn’t have the right management or the right trainers you’d never get that opportunity to compete in K-1. I’m not saying that it was a bad system,” he adds. “They were the best managers and trainers in the world and they produced some of the best fighters. But now we have Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and all of that with the internet and a fighter can post a video of themselves and send it to us and some doors might open up for him. This Amateur Open is for my team and myself to be able to physically see some of these fighters and get them involved with K-1. It’s a direct feeder system. We’re also willing to work with professional fighters who haven’t had a chance before, if you look at our cards we’ve given a lot of young, up-and-coming talent a chance on a bigger stage. Some have done really well and others haven’t, this is how you can really find the best fighters in the world.”

K-1 understands that their brand, name and rules are important in the world of kickboxing and have been adopted throughout the world. They aren’t looking to strip that away from anyone, because they feel that the sport of K-1 has taken on a life of its own, which they are willing to use to their advantage in promoting the brand of K-1. They look at K-1’s rules and see so many amateur events and championships around the globe that even see a possibility for K-1 to be considered an Olympic sport at some point, although not in the near future. This, looking towards building up a strong amateur feeder system, is a good first step. K-1 wants you to know that they aren’t just a brand, but they are a sport.

K-1 is now focused on Thailand, though, where K-1 will present the very first K-1 event on Thai soil in October. The show is the K-1 World MAX Finals where Buakaw Banchamek and Enriko Kehl will fight for the K-1 World MAX Championship, a title that the winner will wear proudly and defend as K-1 moves away from the yearly tournament format. 

“A lot of things had to fall in place for this to happen,” Ned explains. “First was Buakaw fighting for the championship. It’s a lot more evenly-matched fight than people think that it is, but when the officials from Thailand were talking with us, we understood how important it was to have a star like Buakaw on the card. It would mean a lot to Thai fans to see Buakaw win a K-1 title in Thailand, if he can get by Enriko, that is. We had to be creative in making this show happen. Everyone who works in this sport only tries to work with other people who work within the sport, which isn’t always the right way to do things.

“From what I’ve seen in my time with K-1, they generally aren’t the best business people. When I try to work with people I try to work with people who aren’t just in fighting and promoting. We try to work with entertainment companies and legitimate businesses. The group, people that I’m working with on this show aren’t in the fight game. They are from the business world in Thailand, so I had a different approach and it’s worked. This should be a very, very exciting show.”

The topic of the direction of the sport of kickboxing came up after last week I wrote about a growing movement among fans to err on the side of negativity for the outlook of the sport. “In my opinion, at this certain point, it’s gotten the most exposure that it has. We’re in the age of the internet, which helps. As far as K-1, it’s no secret that we are in a rebuilding phase. That’s my job, to rebuild it. Some people might think that it’s been a slow process or that it’s taken too long, but we’re in a very definite transition phase in kickboxing and the sport of K-1. You have K-1, who is still in the game, but yeah, we are a bit slower. Time will tell how my strategy unfolds. 

“Then you have other organizations, you have GLORY who have been putting a lot of money into their shows. They have a lot of talent, great production, but it’s not much of a business plan. Am I a fan of their product? Absolutely. Would I do things the way that they are doing it? Absolutely not, it just doesn’t seem like it’s a viable business plan that can go on for years. I just wouldn’t do it that way. You have other promotions like Enfusion that are doing a good job, you have SuperKombat, Rise, KRUSH. There are a lot of organizations out there, the problem that I have is that I have a massive brand and that I have to do it properly,” Ned explains. “My ideology is to not keep throwing millions of dollars into a show to generate small revenue. I think that there are a few organizations that are playing monkey-see, monkey-do with the UFC and I don’t think that is the proper way to do things.

“Kickboxing doesn’t sell PPVs. We know that, I feel like we’ve always known that. People have tried, but it just won’t work. That means that you can’t copy the UFC model because they are all about PPV. That’s where their revenue comes from. My idea is that it has to be done in steps, it has to be built, you need a foundation. If you look at the brands that have existed for years and not just a few before going away. That’s how K-1 has existed for so long. I feel that kickboxing is in a good state, generally, I would just hate to see some of the organizations make mistakes and go away. The way I see it, the more the merrier, the more that the sport is built up. It only helps all of us in the long run.”

The K-1 World MAX Finals takes place on October 11th in Pattaya, Thailand and the K-1 Amateur Open takes place on September 13th and 14th in the UK. For more information visit http://www.k-1.tv/

 

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Exclusive Interview with GLORY Fighter Saulo Cavalari

There are some fighters who gradually work themselves into the hearts of fans with their personality or by demonstrating great skill in the ring. For some this recognition comes after years of hard work. Then there are others that have such a dynamic debut and who also possess such charisma and charm that the press and fans are almost instantly addicted. Saulo Cavalari falls into the latter category. Making his Glory debut in Chicago, October 2013, Cavalari took to the ring with a decision victory over the Belgian Bull, Filip Verlinden. He was just warming up. The following month, Cavalari faced Mourad Bouzidi at Glory 12 at Madison Square Garden where he delivered one of the most brutal knockouts witnessed by Glory fans. If you didn't know his name before Glory 12, surely Cavalari was on the radar of press and fans alike after his brutal knock out of Mourad Bouzidi.

Recently I had to opportunity for a Q & A with Saulo. Here are some of his thoughts about muay thai, his career and his future.

SW: Depending on the source, your professional record is listed as 31-3 or 28-3. What is your actual professional record?

SC: My professional record is 28-3.

SW: Where did you get the nickname "Cassius Clay?"

SC: Cassius Clay was a icon and one of the best fighters of all time. He was always an inspiration for me and that's why people started calling me with that nickname. But I'm Saulo Cavalari and I hope to build my own career, if I get 50% of what Cassius Clay accomplished I'll be very satisfied.

SW: At what age did you begin training?

SC: I was still a 9 years old boy.

SW: How long have you been with Thai Brasil?

SC: Since it was founded in 2007.

SW: Your knockout of Mourad Bouzidi at Glory 12 was one of the most spectacular of 2013, did you expect to knock him out so quickly and with such force?

SC: I always go for the KO and I always fight with aggressive style. I know that the crowd loves it and since when I was very young I knew I'd be a exciting fighter. All punches that I land in a fight have KO power and I was very happy that I could throw it perfectly in the beginning of the fight.

SW: What are some of your goals for 2014?

SC: My goal is to be the GLORY Champion. I wasn't able to pass the semifinals so my main goal in 2014 is to win my next fight whoever the opponent they send me.

SW: Who has been your most difficult opponent to date?

SC: Tyrone Spong. His skills are perfect and he defends himself very well. I remember that I was trying to hit him with my best shots and his defense was very strong and he always counter attacks with precision. He's the best in the world but I know I can beat him.

SW: There's a rumor that you would like to fight Saki. Besides Gokhan is there anyone else you would like to fight?

SC: I'd like to fight whoever wants to fight me. That's my message to the division: if anyone is brave enough to fight a young and hungry lion please call Mr. Cor Hemmers and ask for me: I'll be waiting.

SW: What specifically is your message to Saki???

SC: Saki you are a legend and I'll always respect you but I want this belt, I want to be the champion of GLORY. So as long as I'm alive I'll be hunting this belt.

SW: If you were not involved in muay thai/kickboxing, what kind of profession would you have chosen?

SC: Since the first time I trained I knew that I'd be a fighter. So since 9 years old I'm training to be the world champion - nothing else never crossed my mind.

SW: Who are some fighters that you enjoy watching?

SC: Mike Tyson, Tyrone Spong and Cassius Clay

SW: When you are not training, what are some of your favourite activities?

SC: I like surfing, skateboarding, basketball and being with my friends.

SW: Recently, I spoke with Thom Harinck about training you. What was your experience like training with such a legendary figure?

SC: He is the best trainer I've ever met. He has so much experience and knows everything. I'd like to say that I'd like to be trained by him again.

SW: Your style has been characterized as very aggressive, how would you describe your fighting style?

SC: I'm a aggressive fighter who always looks for the KO. I can win round 1 and 2, I'll never take a rest in the last round. I'm not satisfied if I don't KO my opponents

SW: What do you consider as the most difficult part(s) of a fighter's life?

SC: Sponsorship deals are very hard to find in Brazil.

SW: You have been successful in K-1, Tatneft and WAKO South America and are currently ranked number three in Glory. Once you’ve achieved the number one ranking what else do you see in your future?

SC: I'll try to remain the #1 for as long as possible and show that Brazil is not only a BJJ / MMA country. We also have Kickboxing here.

SW: Do you have any message to your fans?

SC: Thank you for supporting me. I'll ALWAYS go for the KO.

With the year at the 3/4 mark, one can only guess that GLORY still has a few surprises for us. Whether his next match comes this year or next, one thing is certain, Saulo will be ready and will approach his opponent in a manner that is sure to leave us all stunned and wanting more!

 

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Interview with Zsolt Zathureczky

It's not unheard of that fighters of a specific principle want to try themselves out in a different style. Mirko CroCop, Tyrone Spong, Dustin Jacoby to name a few, have all dipped their feet and crossed the boundaries of their chosen sport. So why would it be any different in other parts of the world?

For many years the 193 cm tall (6'3"), 104 kg (230lbs) physical phenom Zsolt Zathureczky was one of the most sought after fighters in Hungary when it came to MMA shows. Despite his young age (Zsolt will be 26 this December) it was unthinkable to organize an event without him being on the card.

At Age 17 Zsolt hit the gym and chose Team Pit Bull at Soroksár (a district of the capital, Budapest). In two weeks he was competing. And he never stopped since.

His results speak for themselves. Amongst countless MMA, Kempo and even street fighting tournaments he won: 

  • He became the K-3 Hungarian champion in 2009
  • Won the Hungarian K-3 HW title in 2010 and
  • Became the Hungarian HW Muay Thai champion the same year

After some hiatus he recently participated in a well-known tournament series in Hungary, Fight Club's 12th event. The 8 man tournament provided quality production and fights to the fans in K-1, Muay Thai and MMA rulesets. Zsolt beat all three opponents and won the tournament by finishing his last with a powerful bodyshot.

Q: - Hello Zsolt! First of all congrats for winning the 8 man tournament! Apart from this how's 2014 so far?

A: - Thanks, yeah Fight Club 12 was an awesome experience because of many reasons. It was very well organized and I was really happy that I had this opportunity to show my standup game. Because of my history with MMA people usually think that I'm more of a ground fighter. When I accepted the invitation my opponents seemed a bit way to eager to accept it as well...

Q: - Do you think they were looking at you as a heavy underdog?

A: - Well they must've thought that they're going to have a big advantage over me simply because of their background (K-1, Muay Thai) so I think I've managed to suprise them big time when my combinations and knees started to land.

Q: - How do you like K-1 rules by the way? Do you feel comfortable competing under such rules?

A: - I'm missing the clinch. My knees are one of my main weapons and I like to land them from there you know. YOu have to work around it otherwise you get separated quickly.

Q: - Is it safe to say that this was the biggest challenge then in fighting under K-1 rules?

A: - Yeah, I think my first fight was kinda rusty if you know what I mean. The second fight was way better and when the third came I was really feeling it and managed to finish with that body shot. It was a great test for me to see where my striking and cardio at and I was really happy as I felt fresh through the very end.

Q: - So was this your favorite KO maybe?

A: - To be honest this was my first time I managed to get it in a fight but I really liked it. I've caused painful moments with body shots before in sparring but I hope I'll get it again soon in an actual fight.

Q: - How does training look like nowadays?

A: - We put the plan together with my brother, set goals and a strategy which we follow. There are always things we focus on like the things we feel as weak links and we attack those until it gets fixed. He's helping me a lot with getting information, reading up on articles, translating for me and so on. We are truly a team so when I get to the gym I have nothing else on my plate just training.

Q: - What's next for you? DO you have any plans for the remainder of the year?

A: - Yes I have a fight in Germany in the Winter but I'd like some fights in the Fall too. I'm focusing a bit more on opportunities abroad and I'm trying to get as many fights I can.

Q: - You seem to be ready all year round..

A: - I have to. I don't have to be that strict with my diet but still I have to pick things. I need a lot of energy for my training. It's really easy to lose from cardio for example.

Q: - How can you coordinate and put everything together - traveling, training, fighting with your personal life and work?

A: - This is something extra you have to be able to do as a pro athlete. I meet my limits every week, every day and I have to confront them so I can grow beyond them with will and a lot of work. This is a lifestyle for me. Something that I chose. Certainly being a bit ascetic helps but you'll need the right partner as well to support you. Luckily I have all this. Sometimes it is hard but you know how it goes: "victory is reserved for those who are willing to pay it's price".

Many thanks Zsolt! Best of luck with the upcoming fights!

 

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Exclusive Interview with Marco Tentori

We had a chance to speak with Australian Muay Thai champion and Kung Fu specialist Marco Tentori before his biggest fight to date against "Stone Cold" Steve Moxon. Marco did beat Frankie Giorgi in December of last year, and Giorgi holds a win over Moxon but Moxon has been very active fighting big names. So it will be a tough test, that Tentori is more than willing to take on.

LK: Ok first off lets start with your fight record, height, weight, stance?

MT: Current fight record 26 wins 6 losses(but i dispute some) 8 KO's. Height: 179cm / 5feet 10.5 inches. Weight: middleweight 160lbs/72.5kg, though this is the middleweight class in pro Muay Thai & boxing, it would be closer to the welterweight div for MMA & Glory. Stance: variable. Age - 30

LK: Do you have any nicknames? If so whats the story behind it?

MT: Machine Gun, Alan Pond gave it to me the promoter who put the shows on for which I fought my first few fights (though now he is my coach). He had a habit of giving nicknames when a fighter didn't have one to help with the promotion of shows. He nicknamed me "Machine Gun" due to my high work rate and it stuck

LK: You are in Australia, have you been there your whole life? Trained in any other countries?

MT: Yes I have been here my whole life and only trained and fought in Australia, though keen to get out & fight internationally. Can be difficult to get fights in other countries due to our location.

LK: You have a big fight with Steve Moxon coming up in two and a half weeks, hows training and how are you feeling?

MT: Training is going great! So far one of the best camps I have had. I am feeling as good as ever and feel ready to go right now! Like a hungry wolf being held back on a leash. I can't wait to get in there.

LK: I noticed that you have already beat names like Frankie Giorgi but do you think Moxon will be the biggest test?

MT: Given Moxon's level of competition & activity I would say that he would be the biggest test so far, although Frankie Giorgi did beat Moxon not too long ago. I am not phased by Moxon's reputation or record, I welcome the chance to challenge him.

LK: So, i was told your main fighting style is Kung Fu, what type, what gym do you train at and have you been there from the start of your training?

MT: My background & base is Buk Sing Choy Lay Fut. I started my training in this style at the Chinese Kung Fu & Tai Chi Academy. For my first few fights I trained solely out of this gym & in that style, but since there were no full contact kung fu tournaments here at the time I jumped in & fought muay thai instead. A kung fu guy fighting against muay thai under their rules, not something that happens too often. While I was winning I had some holes in my game so Alan Pond invited me over to spar & do some training in his gym. Since then I have been based out of both gyms, the kung fu school & Alan Ponds gym, splitting training between both.

LK: What age did you start at the Chinese Kung Fu Academy? Also whats the name of Alan Ponds gym?

MT: As a teenager, around 14 years old. Alan's gym is the Midland Martial Arts & Ultimate Fitness Center, formerly the Chinese Boxing Club (his background being western boxing & Kung Fu, off the top of my head he had around 78 fights between boxing & thai boxing)

LK: You said that you don't agree with a few losses, which was the worst and why?

MT: Most of them were very very close. The worst one was when I fought Jason Lea for the Perth Cup in my 13th fight, while Jason had around 36 fights at the time. While I & the crowd felt that I won the fight, one judge had it for me, the other for Jason & the other had it a draw. As there was no provision for an extension round the drawn judge was told to pick a winner & chose Jason so it was awarded to him. Not much of a story there really, though I feel that one of the judges was not completely impartial. Not taking anything away from Jason, he is a top bloke & I respect him a lot he went on to fight on one of the first big Thai Fight tournaments in 2010. I say that I feel that one judge was not impartial, as he also judged the fight I had after that against the New Zealand champion. He had it 50-50 a draw, while the two other judges had me winning every round 50-45, So something not right there.

LK: What titles have you held?

MT: In order: former WPMF super-middleweight & middleweight state titles. WBC Muay thai middleweight national title, ISKA light-middleweight national title, OTBA middleweight national title, WKA south pacific title, WMC middleweight state title - challenging for the WMC national title in October. Again the weight categories are the standard ones for Muay Thai, not the MMA or Glory ones with the same names but different weight categories

LK: Would you say you have a rival at all? If so who and why?

MT: Rivals, none at the moment but I feel that I have unfinished business with those that I had the close losses to.

LK: Okay last one, it's something I ask every fighter,

Hardest puncher you've fought? MT: Pat Doherty

Hardest Kicker you've fought? MT: Ruan DuPlessis

Hardest fight? MT: what aspect of difficulty are you talking here? The hardest fight I had was against Dusan Salva, but it was my hardest as I was stupidly sick for a few days before (and after) the fight, vomiting & bad diarrhea. Was a struggle to eat at all & could not keep much down. I had to try very hard not to shit myself or vomit during the fight. I had to get stitched up after & spewed on the doctor. But hardest fight due to opponent & not circumstances, was probably Ruan DuPlessis.

Favourite Fighter? MT: Roberto Duran

LK: OK thanks a lot Marco, is there anything you feel I've missed and you would like to say, or anything you want to tell your fans and sponsors?

MT: Statement for fans: keep watching as the best is yet to come! I have called out the WMC champion Mike 300 and will be taking him on in October after Steve Moxon. Once I am through with them I will be looking for something even bigger. 

I would also like to thank my sponsor WMD Fight Gear.

There is probably more I would like to cover but its 1:30am and having trouble thinking of topics at the moment. It will likely come to me when I try to fall asleep..... haha

LK: Thanks again Marco and keep training hard, we will be looking forward to hearing about your next wins.

 

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‘Hope for the best and prepare for the worst’ - An exclusive interview with Hungary's 22 years old Patrik "Titan" Vidákovics

K-1, Muay Thai, kickboxing, Low-Kick, Light-Contact - whatever comes the -75kg Patrik takes it. And the results speak for themselves - Multiple times National and European cup winner, European champion,  World cup 3rd place, 2x world champion, Professional K-1 Hungarian Champion, Professional K-1 Intercontinental Champion. But how did the story beging for the young Titan?

As Patrik was walking down the streets of Baja, - a city in Bács-Kiskun County, southern Hungary -, in 2008, at age 16 he noticed a poster about upcoming kickboxing classes. He went to check out the training of renowned trainer András Mezőfi and fell in love with the sport immediately. Seven years have passed and Patrik is just as passionate as ever. Despite the success he remained a down to earth guy thankful to his coach, team and to the sport for everything it brought him.

He's grateful for the transformation the sport made him go through. To his own admission kickboxing has made him turn his life around as he was really shy and insecure as a boy.

"My mother has never would've thought that I'll ever try my hands at something like this" - said Patrik. Since he started he has not only managed to get two world titles, won pro championships but grew a lot physically and mentally, as a person.

Patrik is a total fanatic when it comes to training and he credits all his success to the hard work, perseverance he put in throughout the years at Kick-Thai-Boxing Team Baja. Due to this mentality and being ready all year round he managed to capture the K-1 Intercontinental belt last November in Berlin in a clash what started as an exhibition fight.

"I traveled to Berlin as a wingman really for the Hungarian team. The event had multiple championship, world championship and intercontinental championship fights and when I've arrived the organizers asked me if I could jump in for an exhibition fight. A few hours passed when it surfaced that the winner can bring the Intercontinental Championship belt  home. I was fighting a weight class above my natural -75kg (~165lbs) and after five rounds of war I managed to get the belt."

Q- How does your training look like nowadays?

A- We focus a lot on functional training with my coach András Mezőfi to get me in the best shape possible and I have a schedule for every day of the week. We train striking and the kicks separately and then we sync them and bring everything together. There's a lot of emphasis on cardio, S&C. In an actual training camp when I prepare for a fight I traing twice a day - in the a.m and late in the afternoon.

Q- Tell us about your next fight!

A- My next one will be in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 15 Aug at an event called No Limit 7. my opponent will be a dangerous 27 year old local fighter, 86kg (~189lbs), 185cm (6'1") Mesud Selimovic. He has won several international cups, and became Balkan kickboxing vice-champion in 2011. We were studying some tape and found some weaknesses. He's a smart, disciplined fighter setting up his attacks nicely. I'll have to watch out and will put some extra time in when training cardio. I think it can be a deciding factor because of the weight difference.

Q- I know that fighters in general don't like to think ahead than their next fight but what are your plans for the remainder of the year and for the near future?

A- I'm not looking past my opponent by any means but I want to capture my 3rd K-1 world championship in October and after that get the European championship belt too at the event organized by Kick-Thai-Boxing Team Baja.

Thanks for the interview and best of luck Titan!

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Sharing a Six-Pack with Justin Greskiewicz

8/1/14, Mashantucket Reservation, CT - The night before a fight can be a weird time for a fighter.  Some go into seclusion, turning off their phones and locking themselves in a room.  Some go out to a big dinner with the team or friends and family.  Some just eat, watch movies, visualize and pass out, or try to.  I was lucky enough to catch Justin Greskiewicz, the Purple People Eater, the night before the biggest match-up of his professional Muay Thai career, Malaipet Sasiprapa in the Lion Fight 17 show at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.  

Not wanting to take up too much of his time, especially while he was eating, we shared a quick six questions, and then I let him get back to it:

Okay, the weigh-ins over, the hard work is done, time to eat rest, relax and get ready to have some fun tomorrow... if you have the time it'd be great if you can answer these any way you see fit.

The Arbiter: What makes tomorrow's match-up different or more challenging than previous fight? Do you think it's your toughest?

Justin Greskiewicz: This fight is definitely going to be tough. He keeps talking about how hard he trained and that we're gonna see the old Malaipet again. That will make my victory that much sweeter. This will be one of my toughest fights to date for sure.

T.A.: What are some challenges that you faced in training and teaching/running Stay Fly at the same time?

JG: Training hard for a fight is difficult with my own business to run. I'm pretty much the Lone Ranger running stuff there. Also, I don't really have a coach, but lots of people have helped me out along the way for this fight and so many people have stepped up so I could train hard.

T.A.: How has your training differed from prior fights? Any new wrinkles?

JG: I trained hard for this fight. My last 2 fights I had a tough time finding training, but I still did very well. For this fight, I had the help I needed to get ready to do it.

T.A.: What are the weaknesses in your opponent’s game that you think you can exploit?

JG: Malaipet's biggest weakness has been his conditioning, recently. I think I can exploit that if I really push the pace of the fight. Also, his boxing is not really great, he looks for one big shot at a time, and I'll be looking to take advantage of that.

T.A.: Which part of your game or personality would you say is your most reliable or central to victory tomorrow?

JG: My biggest ally in this fight is my will to win. A win here at Lion Fight would be great for my career, especially against one of the best in the game. I want it bad, and tomorrow I'm gonna take it.

T.A.: And lastly, are there any special combos or techniques we should watch for? Old favorites, new experimental stuff? 

J.G.: I will be looking to mix it up a lot in there tomorrow. You might see a fancy technique or two thrown in, which isn't normally the style that I fight. It should be exciting.

T.A.: Thanks for your time brother, I'll let you get back to your visualizations or Tekken or watching Dolomite, whatever your routine is.

J.G.: Ha-ha! Thanks still stuffing my face…

T.A.: Enjoy, asta manana!

J.G.: Werd up!

T.A.: Thanks again for taking time to answer even a couple if these. Best of health and luck tomorrow, CHOK DEE, BROTHER!!!!

Justin will be fighting Thai Champion Malaipet Sasiprapa tonight as the main event of Lion Fight 17 from the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Casino and Resort tonight.  If you can’t be there live you can catch it on AXS TV, starting at 7:00pm.

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A Few Questions With Glory Middleweight Israel "The Last Style Bender" Adesanya

Earlier this week we were lucky enough to get to chat with Israel Adesanya and ask few questions before his King in The Ring 8 man tournament in Auckland, NZ on August 30th. Israel is the first fighter from New Zealand to sign with Glory and is the current WKBF Cruiser & Light Heavyweight, IKBF Cruiserweight and WMC Oceania Cruiserweight Champion.

LK: Hi Israel, first of all tell us your fight stats, height, weight, record, etc?

IA: Fight record is 34 wins/ 2 losses/ 0 draws/ 16kos, Height: 190cm/6'3", Weight: 84kg/185lbs, Stance: Orthodox, Age: 25yrs old.

LK: What nickname do u go by? I've heard Style bender?

IA: The last Style Bender. Lol big fan of cartoons, 1 of my faves being the Avatar series. Love the story behind it and the idea of me being the last of my kind, so I have to master all the elements of fighting to realize my destiny as the Avatar.

LK: You have an 8 man tournament coming up Aug 30 in Auckland, hows training going, how are you feeling?

IA: Yup for King in the Ring. I'm feeling great man, all I do is train eat sleep and repeat. I could fight tomorrow that's how ready I am.

LK: Do you know any of the other opponents? Who do you think is the best man in the tournament after you of course?

IA: Yup a lot of the guys in the tournament are friends of mine. We've traveled and trained together for years. But it makes no difference, I've had fights with my brothers and sister growing up. I'd fight anyone! I'd fight my grandma even...but she's dead. Makes no difference who has the bad luck to face me that night, I'll pull no punches and I expect them to come at me. I'm not the defending King in the Ring champ, but I know these boys all wanna beat up the Glory fighter. So that keeps me sharp.

LK: What do you think of the 8 man tournament format? Do you like it better than a single fight?

IA: I like the spectacle of it. 7 men will fall and 1 will rise, it's so throwback. But I prefer to have a single fight for the most part. 8 man tournaments are taxing on the body. I won my 1st 1 in 2010 for the IKBF 8man.

LK: You train at City Kickboxing, is that where you first started training? How's the attitude/ atmosphere/sparring partners?

IA: I started in TKD as a kid. Stopped for almost or over 10 years then training in Wanganui New Zealand with Derek Broughton. Then decided to move to the big smoke of Auckland city after visiting City Kickboxing on a road trip. One of the best decisions to train at City Kickboxing with Eugene Bareman and Doug Viney.

LK: I have to ask about your fight with Simon Marcus, how did you feel about that decision?

IA: Man, I know, the people know, and Simon knows he didn't win that fight. He hit me with 2 clean punches the whole fight, I rocked him twice and he wanted cuddles, I bent around all his strike attempts and hit him clean more times in the fight while doing the moonwalk. He'll get this work soon...hopefully on the Glory stage so the world can witness!

LK: How did you find the experience of your first Glory fight?

IA: It was awesome! Turkey was dope. I wasn't nervous at all cuz in China I did 15000 seat shows, so this was nothing. I should have embraced the nerves a bit and stayed true to my style rather than charge him in the opening round. But Verlinden used strong basics and years of experience to keep me at gear to and steal momentum, I respect that... but he still couldn't break me and I know without a doubt I can beat him.

LK: Any talks with Glory about about your next fight?

IA: Yup, classified at the moment. But it's coming soon and I can't wait to make my USA debut. The world gon' luuuurn haha!

LK: What got you into kickboxing in the first place? How old were you? Did you ever imagine you would be at this level?

IA: I was 17, I saw the movie Ong Bak and months after started training Muay Thai. Had my 1st novice fight within 6 weeks and my 2nd fight ever was full thai rules (and won). After UFC 90 witnessing the way Anderson Silva beat Coté, I had the misconception of fighters/ action heroes movies and media put on us shattered. Soon after I made the decision to be the best in the world and I moved to Auckland.

LK: Last question is something I like to ask every great fighter

Hardest puncher you've fought? IA: I don't take many shots in fights, but Doug Viney spars like a mad man and had hit me full clip a full times and I still stand.

Hardest Kicker you've fought? IA: Jamie Eades in a novice fight in 2008/2009. He made me realize to check leg kicks, but I returned the favour years later in a full Thai fight and had him limping with a gangsta lean.

Hardest fight? IA: Still waiting...

Favourite Fighter? IA: Anderson Silva, Mohammed Ali, Prince Naseem, Roy Jones jr, Rickson Gracie, Conor McGregor, Nick Diaz...etc the list can go on. I'm a fan of combat sports

LK: Thanks a lot for your time Israel, is there anything more you would like to say to your fans, sponsors etc?

IA: Just wanna thank those that have followed and believed in me through all this, my training partners, my sponsors Bow Fighters, FX Nutrition, Combat Kings, Stained Skin Tattoos. Stay tuned for this man, just getting started.

LK: Once again thank you, good luck on your upcoming fight, not that you need it.

 

 

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