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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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Rough Footage From Peter Aerts vs. Ernesto Hoost From K-Energy Event

Over the weekend Peter Aerts and Ernesto Hoost met for the sixth time in the ring under the WKO (World Kumite Organization) banner. It was an interesting affair with a lot of old K-1 names in attendance, including Kazuyoshi Ishii himself, which should raise a few eyebrows. We've all been eagerly awaiting the footage from the fight, especially knowing that there were film crews there taping the fight, but none of that has surfaced just yet.

Instead, our friends at FightStadium went ahead and pieced together some of the footage that had been floating around online of the fight. It's not pretty, but you can at least see what went down. There has been talk of a potential rematch since Aerts claims that he only had three weeks to train, plus there was talk of a gentlemen's agreement to go easy on his legs since he requires knee surgery in the near future. 

So without further ado, here it is, Peter Aerts vs. Ernesto Hoost. 

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VIDEO: Artur Kyshenko vs. Radoslaw Paczuski

Leave it to Artur Kyshenko to keep busy, right? Yesterday Kyshenko fought at the KOK WGP 2014 event in Gdansk against Radoslaw Paczuski in a night that also saw Sergei Laschenko take a Heavyweight tournament. Go ahead and check out Kyshenko's performance and let us know what you thought. Kyshenko has been hit-or-miss at times and jumped around weight classes. 

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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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Badr Hari Publicly Announces Social Media Explanation

Badr Hari has finally made a video to publicly explain to everyone what has been going on with his social media accounts. I'm not sure how these fake accounts got verified without his consent but I can't help but feel there is more to the story. Anyway he has had all these fake accounts closed down and opened his own REAL accounts which he says he will have a team running for him. I wonder how long it will take for this team to do something he doesn't like and then these will become fake accounts as well, hopefully that doesn't happen, but only time will tell. His accounts have been quite active with videos and pictures, so if you're a Badr fan here is his FacebookTwitter, and Website which is coming soon.

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The Wonderful World of Kickboxing

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As those of us who’ve been around for a while might say, when it comes to the sport of kickboxing, no news is typically bad news. We’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about Glory in the past few months--from murky accounts of an organization on dire straits to assurances by some of our professional kickboxing journalist pals that they have the exclusive scoop on BIG NEWS which has simply been embargoed by Glory for the time being. The fact remains that we haven’t heard anything substantive from Glory since July. There was talk of more SpikeTV content and of an event to be held at the end of October--we’re still waiting for any of these things to materialize. This behavior is worrisome for those of us who followed the scene as recently as 2012, when K-1 made promise after promise of a big comeback that ultimately never took place. It would be sad to see Glory succumb to the same fate as its ambitious predecessors, with K-1 and It’s Showtime telling the tale of how unforgiving the fight business can be.

Kickboxing in particular is a very strange industry, one that appears very active at a glance but which tells a far more sobering story beneath the surface. If we judged the scene solely on the number of events held annually, we might think that things look pretty good, with organizations like LEGEND, Global FC, Top King, A-1, and SuperKombat making news on sites like this one with fight cards featuring big name talent. While the accessibility of this content is highly variable, from robust TV broadcasts to mislabeled camera phone footage posted on YouTube, there are nevertheless fights happening all over the world and subsequently news and results which we can report to you.

But the difference between offering you a survey of sundry action from around the globe and a developing narrative that you can follow and become engrossed in is the difference between Kickboxing as a mere curiosity and as a sport in its own right. There are plenty of Kickboxing and Muay Thai videos that show up on MMA sites, but as much as their readers might appreciate them, they will never get the same first person experience of being there when iconic and spectacular moments unfold--memories of being glued to your TV when Andy Hug landed that spinning back kick or when Joe Schilling knocked Simon Marcus out cold. These moments were real, and they made us believe in this sport and dream about the possibilities. Call it a pet peeve, but I find it a little heartbreaking when brilliant retrospectives of great kickboxing moments wind up on MMA sites under “look at what this might teach us about MMA technique!” headings.

No one in particular is to blame for how things have turned out for kickboxing. Ultimately the success of any venture depends on the convergence of talent, a solid product, proper promotion, and a receptive market at an opportune moment in time. Kickboxing had various combinations of these things at different points in time, but the times and circumstances changed. The downfall of K-1 had as much to do with its management as it did with evolving trends in the Japanese entertainment market. Many factors came into play, but unfortunately, things ended for K-1 in an ugly way, leaving fighters with substantial outstanding earnings which they may never be able to fully collect. However, let us not kid ourselves about what it takes to build a real professional sport league. We’ve seen plenty of flamboyant millionaire playboys from around the world blow their money to party with celebrities and to book their favorite kickboxers for an evening of entertainment. Some of these mysterious rich dudes will even slap a label on their “organization” and take lots of photos with kickboxing bigwigs to make things look legit, but we all know that trying to produce a sustainable sports entertainment venue for the masses takes a lot more vision and tenacity than that. No matter how flashy their shows get, the playboys are not going to save Kickboxing, and neither will the small promotions like Top King (although we’ll give it a chance, just like we always do--that’s the story of Kickboxing, right?) that seem to come and go every year.

We really hope that Glory will actually make it. It seems like the formula’s been there--Glory had enough money, the right talent, the right TV deal, and an ostensible understanding of the business startup process (God knows there are enough smart-sounding former hedge fund/venture capital people on board--how many of them does it take to screw in a light bulb?). Where do things stand now? We really don’t know. We do know that there have been no shows in three months, and if it is indeed true that Glory is coming to Oklahoma on November 7, then that will make four months since its last show. We really hope that the lights will stay on at Glory because as kickboxing fans, we’ve looked forward for a long time to not living in the dark of the sports world. 

 

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Video: Watch Buakaw Banchamek Dismantle Zhang Chunyu

If I were to describe Buakaw Banchamek's 2014 it would probably be in one word; active. Buakaw fought for the fifth time this year yesterday in Belarus at the Top King World Series event in the first part of a huge 70kg tournament. He fought Chinese fighter Zhang Chunyu in the first round of this tournament and pretty much dominated him, as you'd probably expect. Check out the video below for all of your Buakaw squashing dudes needs.

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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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