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Rise, It's Showtime Japan Announce September Matchups

In the main event of September 23rd's RISE 83, NJKF Super Flyweight Champion KENJI, brother of Yuta Kubo, will take on #3 ranked Ryuma Tobe in a fight that will have large implications for the RISE Bantamweight title that Nobuchiko Terado has vacated. KENJI made it to the semifinals of the Krush 55kg tournament, but lost to eventual champion Shota Takiya. In his last 10, KENJI has only lost to Takiya and the aforementioned Terado. Tobe is currently on a 2-fight winning streak. Also announced for RISE 83 is a bout between TURBO and Hirotaka Egawa(?).

On September 11th at It's Showtime Japan 3, former It's Showtime -61kg Champion Sergio Wielzen will take on Kanongsuk Weerasakreck in yet another bout that will likely have implications at the It's Showtime title. Wielzen defeated Frenchman Mikael Peynaud for the inaugural It's Showtime 61kg title and defeated Masahiro Yamamoto in his first defense, but lost the title to Karim Bennoui. Kanongsuk has been on a tear as of late, going 8-1 in his last 9 with wins over Hiromasa Masuda, Genki Yamamoto and Rashata while his only loss is to current IS 61kg #1 contender Kan Itabashi. Already announced for the card are matchups between WBC Japan Super Bantamweight Champion Genji Umeno will take on Techakarin Chuwattana(?) while WPMF Japan Featherweight Champion Yosuke Morii will take on kickboxing convert and former WBO Bantamweight Champion Ratanchai Sor Vorapin. {jcomments on}

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Hisanori Maeda to Retire at Fujiwara Festival on August 28th

August 28th will mark the second It's Showtime Japan event, this time a co-promotion with the Fujiwara Festival. However, its biggest impact on the kickboxing world will be Hisanori Maeda's retirement ceremony. Maeda was the 20th AJKF Featherweight Champion and has faced nearly every notable name at 60-63kg in Japan. During his time in AJKF, he faced Naoki Ishikawa, Masahiro Yamamoto, Genki Yamamoto, Hiromasa Masuda, Haruaki Otsuki, Kanongsuk and Ryuji Kajiwara. Though he was unsuccessful against many of them, he managed to go 2-1-1 against Naoki Ishikawa, with their final encounter being a draw for the AJKF Super Featherweight Championship at the last AJKF show.

After AJKF disbanded, he entered the 2009 Krush Lightweight tournament, defeating Fire Harada by knockout in the opening round of the tournament, but losing to Genki Yamamoto in the quarterfinals. He went on to defeat Daisuke Uematsu in a super fight at the finals of the Krush tournament. However, he finished out his career going 1-4 in 2010, losing to TURBΦ and Rashata in that stretch.

Maeda is just one of the many AJKF fighters who has struggled to find success in the post-AJKF Japanese scene and his retirement signifies another step in this changing of the guard in the Japanese scene which has seen many K-1 Koshien fighters find success in both K-1 and Krush. AJKF fighters may have a resurgence in the near future, but Hisanori Maeda will not be one of them.

{jcomments on}

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Ai Takahashi Injured, Erika Kamimura Enters Girls S-Cup Japan Tournament

Ai Takahashi was supposed to meet Erika Kamimura in a super fight at next week's Shootboxing Girls S-Cup Japan Preliminary Tournament. Unfortunately, Takahashi suffered a fractured left orbital bone in training and won't be able to participate. However, Kamimura has not withdrawn from the event and instead has chosen to participate in the tournament. Shootboxing chairman Ceasar Takeshi said that he would like to reschedule the match under RISE rules on November 23rd's RISE event, but nothing official is in the works as of now. He also announced the other participants for the tournament, as well as the tournament draw. In the first round, Erika Kamimura will face off against Kanaka Oka, MMA fighters "WINDY" Tomomi Sunaba and Miyo Yoshida will face each other, 2009 Girls S-Cup Finalist and Valkyrie Featherweight Champion V.V Mei will face J-Girls 3rd ranked MINA and MMA fighters Seo Hee Ham and Emi Fujino round out the tournament.

The most likely outcome of the tournament would be a Kamimura vs Ham finals, however V.V Mei could pull off an upset, as she has done in the past, though I see it rather unlikely against Ham, who absolutely dominated V.V Mei in an MMA fight back at Jewels 15. Rena is still set to participate at the event, but has no opponent as of now.{jcomments on}

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Weekly Poll Results

Last week's question: How much do you watch current MMA?

52% - I watch everything I can get my hands on

25% - All the big shows

14% - Sometimes, if a shows interests me

8% - Very rarel

1% - Absolutely never

This week - we're starting to hear rumblings of K-1 coming back.  Of course, we've heard these rumblings before in 2011, and so far nothing has come of it.  What's your take on the situation?

Will there be a 2011 K-1 Heavyweight Grand Prix?

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Training Diary: April 16

Second time sparring this week, and I’ve quickly become obsessed with this side of training. Working on technique is enjoyable, vital, and very helpful, but obviously not quite as satisfying as giving a test to what you’ve learned against an opponent – even if it is just sparring.

For my 2nd time through, I’ve noticed a few things about my burgeoning “style,” if you can even call it that. For one, I’m much more reliant on kicks than on punches. I think this comes from two things. For one, I just like fighters who kick more, and so that’s what I am more used to seeing. And two, for these light sparring sessions we don’t wear headgear. As a result, I’m not entirely comfortable throwing a punch at my partner just yet. Because my punching technique is still developing, I am not yet confident at both executing the punch properly, but at the same time pulling it a bit so that I don’t hit my partner fully. Seems like that’s a tricky line that I’m still trying to find. No worries though, as in the meantime, I’m improving my kicking speed, technique, and defense, and managed to land a number of clean leg kicks and push kicks this time, while also blocking kicks much more effectively.

Speaking of defense, this continues to be an area in need of work, especially where punches are concerned. When punches start coming in, I find it tough to keep my composure and cover up, and instead end up trying to block each individual punch – which only leaves my head exposed and gets me tagged. Been watching a lot of Remy Bonjasky, which helps. He’s very skilled at dropping his head, bringing his gloves in, and tucking in his elbows when the punches come in, while still firing back with kicks when there’s an opening. That’s what I’m aiming for. I also used this little Rob Kamen combo I found online, which worked for me as well.

Last thought for the day is a sort of philosophical training question I’ve been contemplating – what constitutes being a good training partner, particularly when drilling techniques? Is it helpful to just keep quiet and let your partner throw the combo? To give words of encouragement? If there’s something they could improve, do you speak up? How about movement, should I circle, so that they are working different angles? Of course, different people respond to different things, but it’s a good question to ask – not only in how you can best help your partner, but how they can best help you.

Any thoughts?

Training Diary is a weekly series documenting my journey starting Muay Thai training. For more on this series, read the first entry here. I train at Conviction Fitness & Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL www.convictionfitness.com.

 

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Weekly Poll Results

Last week's question: What was the March Fight of the Month?

43% - Hesdy Gerges vs. Daniel Ghita

30% - Andy Souwer vs. L'houcine Ouzgni

14% - Other

9% - Khem vs. Kongjak

5% - Sergio Wielzen vs. Karim Bennoui

This week we offer a pretty straight-forward question, but one I am definitely interested in seeing the response to.

How much do you watch current MMA?

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LiverKick.com Picks Paul "Semtex" Daley to Explode Nick Diaz's Head, Overcoming DSTRYRsg's BJJ

Let's face facts here, going into tonight's Strikeforce main event, there isn't much left to say about it. You have a clash between two of the MMA world's baddest ass welterweights imaginable. Nick Diaz is a true force to be reckoned with, a BJJ black belt, and no, when I say that I don't mean cookie-cutter. I mean Cesar Gracie gave him that belt and he earned it and knows how to use that belt, that is the kind of jiu-jitsu Nick Diaz knows. On top of that, his boxing is great; Nick has super fast hands, puts together some mean combinations, protects his head and always stays moving. On top of that, he owns a serious trademark on the "mean mug" and has one of the most prolific histories of mouthing off, causing riots and general bad boy behavior in the entire MMA world. In a world where it feels like there are no John Waynes left, Nick Diaz is a John Wayne.

His opponent is Paul "Semtex" Daley, one of the few guys to get cut from the UFC for being a badass (and a poor sport), right up there with one of my favorite fighters, Renato "Babalu" Sobral. Babalu held a choke too long to teach a lesson, and Daley, well, suckerpunched Josh Koscheck after the bell. Sure, Daley's sportsmanship is terrible and he hasn't made weight a total of 5 times in his professional career, but his skills are his skills. Other than mocking any sort of rules and standards of conduct, Daley sports some of the most destructive stand up in MMA. How much so? Daley has 27 wins and 20 of them are via a form of knockout. That is pretty serious power.

If it came down to which fighter I think is cooler, Nick Diaz wins against everybody in MMA, but when it comes down to who will win, I'm torn and have to go with the stand up guy in this. Our mild-mannered grappling friends who just seem to want to have a good time, roll on the mat and chill at DSTRYRsg decided to throw down the gauntlet and bet some serious BetDSI money that Nick Diaz will triumph over Paul Daley. They bet $200 on our favorite betting site, BetDSI, that Nick Diaz will win this fight. After BetDSI refilled the LiverKick.com coffers after we went all-in on Shogun Rua over Jon Jones (sigh, what were we thinking?!), we have decided to gamely bet $200 of our freshest BetDSI money on Paul Daley to defeat Nick Diaz.

The odds are in our favor if this happens, with the live odds on BetDSI (you can bet live during a fight, the odds update) being at +180. This means for our $200 bet, we would win $360. Sure, DSTRYRsg might have a fancy chart set up for this wager, but the truth is, Paul Daley seeks out other badasses and has trained with the legendary Mike's Gym in the Netherlands, home of Badr Hari, Melvin Manhoef and a bunch of other destroyers. That is where you go when you are serious about your stand up, and Daley is serious. Nick Diaz has good hands and scary jiu-jitsu, but he loves to stand and bang, and against a guy like Daley it could mean curtains for him, or at least a nasty cut that could finish the fight. Diaz's jiu-jitsu is what it is, but he has no takedowns to get the fight to the ground and I sincerely doubt Daley pulls a Cyborg and takes Diaz down foolishly.

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Training Diary: April 8

This week, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to say that I have entered a bold new world in my training. A world that is both terrifying and exhilarating. A world of pain and reward. A world where my wrong moves have very clear and immediate consequences.

Because today, for the first time, I started sparring.

Now, let me just say that this was very light sparring – minimal contact, no clinching, no elbows or knees. All of which was fine by me. But man, what a great experience this was. Not necessarily for the reasons you may think though.

First lesson learned – I suck. Really, I’m not very good. And while this may sound disheartening, it’s not. I’m very new to this game, and looked at this sparring as a chance to find my weaknesses – see where I am struggling so that I can focus on those spots for next time. We sparred in a round robin format, and the guys involved were at various levels. Having a chance to spar with someone who is both above you, and a very generous teacher, is extremely helpful. He caught me, a lot, but every time was able to give me a quick pointer on how to correct my problems. This is a huge help.

Second lesson learned – DEFENSE. I’m not surprised to discover that this is my weakest area. Always has been for me; whether I’m competing in an actual sport, playing chess, or playing a Nintendo game, I’m much more offensive than defensive minded. And of course that leads me to some troubles in sparring. My main defensive difficulty is checking kicks. In the heat of the moment, to my still training body, the natural instinct when a kick comes in is to deflect it with the hand. Which of course is a great way to get yourself punched right in the face. But the idea of quickly getting my leg up for the check is tough – partly because it’s still a motion I have to think about a bit instead of doing naturally, and partly because I’m still too heavy on my feet, so checking requires some weight re-distribution before I can check. That’s too long, and by then, the kick has landed. So then the next time my mind says to me “you’ll never get that leg up in time, just swat the kick away with your hand.” And I do. And I get punched in the face. Have to work on silencing that instinct.

Over the course of this session I did manage to develop the motion of keeping my lead leg very light on the ground and frequently bringing it up in a check motion. And, for now at least, it worked! Not only did this help me check kicks, it also made it easier to throw a teep off the lead leg, or a quick stepping right kick. I definitely didn’t master this, or suddenly start blocking everything and landing every kick – but I improved. And a day later, as I feel some minor aches and pains, I’m pleased to know that little improvement happened.  And I absolutely can't wait to get back in there and try it again.

Up next – that tough boxer guy who keeps up the pressure with charging punches. How to keep him off me?

Training Diary is a weekly series documenting my journey starting Muay Thai training. For more on this series, read the first entry here. I train at Conviction Fitness & Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL www.convictionfitness.com.

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It's Showtime Web Shop March Sale

If you think back, to promote It's Showtime's new web shop and first big event of the year, It's Showtime teamed up with LiverKick.com to give away a whole slew of awesome merchandise. Well, we are happy to tell you that It's Showtime's web shop has been doing well, and to celebrate both doing well and It's Showtime's awesome March, including two big shows, they have a few special offers for the rest of the month.

First, if you live in the Netherlands, you get free shipping for the month of March. If you don't live in the Netherlands, you get an automatic 4.95 Euro discount on shipping, or just about $7 U.S. For the sometimes lofty shipping prices to the United States, this is an incredibly welcome discount. If you live outside of the Netherlands and have been teetering on purchasing from It's Showtime but haven't due to shipping prices, the time is now to take advantage of this.

On top of that, the nice folks who run the It's Showtime web shop have decided to give us a special code for you to enter to toss in a free keychain, wallet or lanyard for free. So place an order with It's Showtime, and enter the following code and not only will you see a shipping discount but get a free gift as well.

The code: KSF3103

So go for broke, discounted or free shipping if you are in the Netherlands and a free gift from LiverKick.com and It's Showtime.

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Fletch Blog: A Few Exclusives and Whatnot

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So, I've been sat spinning tales around the campfire for a while now, and I've got a couple of recent ones from the interviews that I've been fortunate enough to conduct in the past week or two. From the Slamma at BAMMA to chatting to Mike Passenier and Paul Daley, to James McSweeney and last night down at Bad Company gym in Leeds, me and my trusty iPod emerged from our dingy basement and got out in the world to ask questions. So, here's a couple of the nuggets of info I retrieved:

 

*James McSweeney (the now 4-7 win/loss BAMMA Heavyweight) was offered a shot at the It's Showtime 95MAX (Cruiserweight, 95kg) world title.

The belt was vacated after Tyrone Spong failed to defend it within two years, and was contested for on Sunday by Wendell Roche and Danyo Ilunga. It makes me wonder what the deal is - McSweeney had a degree of success in Muay Thai, winning British and European titles and even a 'world' title, but surely there were more deserving candidates for a shot at what is - in the absence of Light-Heavy/Cruiserweight divisions in K-1 - perhaps the most prestigious and important 'world' title in kickboxing between 90-95kg? For the Americans, that is roughly 198-210lbs.

 

*Stefan "Blitz" Leko is retired ~ Mike Passenier.

What can I say? Ever the professional, I blurted out "no!" and audibly groaned when Mike let slip during our interview that my joint-favourite thai-boxer (with Manhoef) had finally called it a day. If so, I mourn the loss of a man who seemed destined to achieve K-1 greatness at the level of Aerts (who he beat twice), Bonjasky (who he beat), Hoost (who he took the distance) and teammate Semmy Schilt, only to seemingly miss his big window of opportunity when - as the-then #1 ranked K-1 heavyweight on a hot streak - he was axed from K-1 just prior to the 2003 World Grand Prix Final, which he was being widely tipped to win.

Still, the resume that includes being K-1 European Grand Prix champion, K-1 Dream tournament champion, two-time K-1 World Grand Prix USA winner, two-time World Heavyweight Thai-boxing champion and three-time World Super-Heavyweight kickboxing champion, is a C.V that 99% of all fighters would die to retire with, not to mention holding wins over Peter Aerts (x2), Alexey Ignashov (x2), Badr Hari, Remy Bonjasky and many more. Leko retires after a glorious career. Legend, yes or no? He is to me.

 

*Melvin Manhoef has not defended his It's Showtime 85MAX (Light-Heavyweight) world title, because there are no fighters at 85kg willing to face him for the belt.

It is likely he will end up being stripped, as Tyrone Spong was. Manhoef won the belt against relative unknown Denes Racz, on an It's Showtime card in August 2009 that took place in Hungary. Racz is Hungarian. A low key title win, and then no defences in nearly two years. Such a shame, as to me, Melvin in near unbeatable at his own weight class in stand-up fighting, and it is hard to envision anyone upwards of 77MAX and even up to the best at 95MAX being able to beat him. As my next point will highlight, Melvin wont be competing for the title at 95kg anytime soon, but even in that division he looks pretty strong, in the absence of Saki and Spong. So, in terms of 85kg... what could have been the most dominant, destructive, brutal kickboxing world championship reigns of all time will be cut short after two years of non-activity, due to lack of opposition. As a Manhoef fan, it's sad.

 

*Nenad Pagonis of Mike's Gym is in line to face Danyo Ilunga for the It's Showtime 95MAX title.

Mike Passenier told me a week prior to the vacant belt being fought for by Wendell Roche and Germany's Ilunga, that "Pagonis will fight the winner". He added that for this reason, Manhoef would not be competing for the 95MAX world title in the near future, as Pagonis and he are teammates.

 

*Liam Harrison of Leeds will get a rematch with Saenchai Sor Kingstar.

The p4p God of Thailand gave a recent interview in which he stated Harrison was "his favourite opponent. Everything I do to him, he imitates and does back to me. It is fun." Richard Smith of Bad Company says that Liam "is a different fighter now" to what he was when he faced Saenchai the first time around. That could spell trouble for the flashy Thai, as while he is a prodigious, mercurial talent, with 40losses on his record he is not infallible to losing to top competition. (I should point out that nearly all the losses occurred above his natural weight, as no one his size will fight him). The rematch is scheduled for April 9th.

 

*Jordan Watson, also of Bad Company gym in Leeds, was offered a shot at p4p kickboxing king Giorgio Petrosyan, according to Richard Smith, who is head and founder of the camp.

Watson, 22 from Leeds, rose to world prominence last year when he faced off with 2x K-1 World MAX champion Buakaw Por.Pramuk, whom he took to a close decision over 5rds, and then Watson topped off a great year by winning the ISKA World title at welterweight (70kg). While Smith said he witheld the youngster from the Petrosyan fight for now, the name 'Watson' certainly appears destined to rank alongside those of the other power names at 70kg, such as Petrosyan, Buakaw (who he already almost beat) Souwer, Kraus, Zambidis and Kyshenko.

 

Check LiverKick in the coming days for my video interviews of Richard Smith, Liam Harrison and hopefully Jordan Watson too.

Fletch

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