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Overeem Leads K-1 Presence at Strikeforce

  • Published in Kickboxing

 

Alistair OvereemI was debating discussing this story at all. I mean, yes it does involve K-1 Grand Prix champion Alistair Overeem, but there are so many places where the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament is getting coverage that it seemed maybe unnecessary. Then this morning, Strikeforce added an extra fight to the tournament that really piqued my interest.

In an upcoming fight, Valentijn Overeem will face one of K-1’s favorite sons, Sugar Ray Sefo. The fight is not 100% confirmed yet, and it is unclear if it will be on the Feb. 12 card or a future date, or a prelim or main card fight.

Now, here’s the interesting thing from our end about this tournament. You have 8 names in the main draw, plus 4 more Heavyweights currently set to compete in fights on these shows. Of those 12, 3 are current, active K-1 fighters (Overeem, Sefo, Sergei Kharitonov) and one more (Andrei Arlovski) was very nearly in the 2010 Grand Prix. This tournament is a major event – the most prominent US tournament in MMA since Don Frye won the UFC Ultimate Ultimate way back in 1996. For the tournament to feature a significant K-1 presence is definitely a point worth discussing.

Much has been made of the Strikeforce/Dream partnership that has resulted in fights like Shinya Aoki v. Gilbert Melendez and Tatsuya Kawajiri v. Josh Thomson. But one aspect that has been largely overlooked previously is that Dream and K-1 are both part of FEG, so as Strikeforce works with Dream, they open the door to working with K-1. We are seeing that door crack open here in the tournament. Now, obviously the fighters we are seeing her are not K-1 exclusive fighters, and all have experience in MMA; most fans still view Overeem and Kharitonov as primarily MMA fighters trying their hand at K-1, while Sefo has been working on his fledgling MMA career for the past 2 years. But they are all fighters whose recent careers have been more marked by K-1 action than MMA, and who hold interest for K-1 fans.

Last year, there were vague rumblings of Strikeforce considering running some kickboxing fights in the US – remember that Strikeforce started in the kickboxing heavy California scene – but these plans never came to fruition. Since then, we have heard rumors of It’s Showtime making their US debut in 2011, though again, nothing is confirmed. With this tournament including some big players in the kickboxing scene (and right now, no one is bigger than Alistair Overeem), there definitely is potential to generate some stateside interest in kickboxing.

Will this tournament lead to Overeem v. Badr Hari here in America? No, but depending on how they promote Overeem, Kharitonov, and Sefo, it could lead to a significant number of MMA fans hearing an awful lot about K-1 and kickboxing throughout the course of the tournament. Much will be told by how the videos and commentary position these three fighters. If they focus on MMA, there will be little benefit for kickboxing. But if they talk up Overeem as the GP champ, Sefo as a K-1 legend, and Kharitonov as pursuing a kickboxing career, it will give kickboxing valuable exposure to the large US MMA audience. And as K-1 struggles at home, increased international exposure can only be a good thing.

Alistair Overeem faces Fabricio Werdum in the quarter-final round at a date yet to be determined. The winner moves on to the semi-finals to face either Fedor Emelianenko or Antonio Silva, who meet on February 12.

Sergei Kharitonov v. Andrei Arlovski is also set for February 12 with the winner meeting Josh Barnett or Brett Rogers in the other semi-final.

Ray Sefo v. Valentijn Overeem may be on Feb. 12, or may be at a later date. The other announced fight is a reserve fight on the Feb. 12 card between Shane Del Roasrio and Lavar Johnson.

No dates are yet set for the 2nd half of the quarter-finals, semi-finals, or finals.

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2011 Rumble of The Kings Featuring Ray Sefo vs. Jorgen Kruth... In MMA Rules

  • Published in Kickboxing

Rumble of The KingsRumble of The Kings is a yearly event held in Sweden that serves as an all-encompassing combat sports event. In the past it has served as a K-1 qualifier, but this time around it will serve as a vehicle to promote a mixed (in every sense of the word) card, featuring MMA, Kickboxing and Boxing bouts, although so far only Kickboxing and MMA fights have been announced. As a part of this annual gala, Swedish fighter Jorgen Kruth is usually involved in a fight, and this year will be no different. As we've seen in 2009, Kruth will apparently square off in a MMA match. In 2010 Kruth took the fight to Bob Sapp with a R1 KO, and the year before that defeated Jaime Fletcher in R1 by punches in MMA rules. His opponent for his yearly-bout will be none other than Sugar Ray Sefo. Sefo is best known as a Kickboxer in his K-1 career but has been trying his hand at MMA of late as he is looking to fight in his fourth MMA bout, third since 2009 when he decided to enter MMA seriously.

If you are a fan of Kickfighting, though, never fear. In a modified Muay Thai/K-1 Rules bout (rules are not actually clear), Yodsaenklai Fairtex will square off with Artur Kyshenko. That is a huge fight featuring two big name fighters within the division, with Yod and Kyshenko universally seen as two of the best fighters in the world. The bout is billed as a Middleweight fight, with Yod fighting as high as 77kg of late and Kyshenko fighting at 70kg as well as 73kg, so expect it to be billed at -77kg. The other kickboxing bout announced is Chahid Oulad el Hadj vs. Dzabar Askerov at 70kg. Chahid is known to be a very entertaining and aggressive fighter and Dazabar has put his name on the map with some high profile bouts over the past year.

In MMA rules Bruno Carvalho is set to take on Marius Zaromskis and on top of that, a WMC Rules "Nordic" 4-man one night tournament at Welterweight. The bouts are Pasi Luukhanen vs. Sanny Dahlbeck and Rassan Muhareb vs. Martin Akhtar.

The event is set to be streamed live on RumblePlay.com.

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Photo of the Day: K-1's Financial Woes Makes Headlines

  • Published in K-1

K-1's financial woes are nothing new to LiverKick.com's readers, as we've been covering K-1's inability to pay their fighters on time for longer than the existence of LiverKick.com now. Ray Sefo's last bout with K-1 was in October of 2010 after fighting for K-1 3 times within the span of a year. Sefo's deal with K-1 was heavily talked about throughout the hardcore fan community as being upwards of 3 million dollars for a multi-fight deal, and apparently the last part of that deal was to pay Sefo $700,000. It has been 9 months now, and Sefo has been very publicly discussing how K-1 has yet to pay him. Many have rushed to defend K-1, whose contracts do have certain clauses about pay and the timeliness of it. This is standard in the international fighting world, for example Ultimate Glory pays 30 days after the event. K-1's clause is usually in the range of six months, and Ray Sefo has worked with K-1 for many years, so there is no chance of him not knowing this.

This is all immaterial now, as it has been over nine months and Tanikawa has even stated that the Sefo situation is "taken care of." It is important to note that the Japanese media have an unspoken gag order of sorts of them when it comes to matters like this. Business in Japan is very different and there are a lot of secrets, what happens behind closed doors is usually not as public as it is in other places. For a Japanese newspaper to print an article about Ray Sefo, Peter Aerts and more being owed money by Tanikawa, as well as Tanikawa lying, it would have to be considered a big deal. It is. [source]

Ray Sefo

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2010 LiverKick.com Fans' Fight of the Year

  • Published in Video

Zambidis_Chahid2010 was a rough year for K-1 MAX.  Three of the division's very top stars fought their (for now) last MAX fights in 2009, including Masato, the man MAX had been built around from the start.  Shows were planned, then canceled.  Only two qualifying Grand Prixs were held, and one of those 2 never aired.  Half of the Final 16 fights were shoved onto the 63kg GP finals almost as an afterthought, and at one time, there were rumors that the 2010 MAX Grand Prix might not even happen.  Fans of MAX were looking at the year as somewhat of a disaster.

That changed on October 3.  Amidst all this chaos and confusion, the MAX Final 16 event in Seoul was a grand slam of an event - an all around fantastic card with every fight delivering.  The next day, no one was talking about how K-1 MAX was struggling.  Instead, they were talking about what a show it was.  And they were talking about one fight.

That fight is your 2010 LiverKick.com Fans' Fight of the Year - "Iron" Mike Zambidis vs. Chahid Oulad El Hadj.

Coming into the event, this was a fight that on paper looked like it could be a good one.  Both Zambidis and Chahid are exciting fighters who like to push the pace and have turned in plenty of fun bouts.  But they are also two men whose presence in the Final 16 was questionable, as neither had claimed a significant K-1 win in some time.  From the moment the two men meet in center ring for the staredown, any concerns about them not belonging flew out the window.  Because right from the opening, you can tell this is going to be something special.  Both men looked hungry, out for redemption, and just plain pissed off.  They looked ready to tear into each other.  And that's exactly what they did.

For four epic rounds, Zambidis and Chahid engaged in an all out war.  By the end of the 3rd, the announcers are all on their feet waiting for the judges' decision.  By the end of the 4th, fans are already writing their friends telling them what they just saw.  And by the next morning, all the focus was on this classic.

Watching it now, I'm reminded of another all-time K-1 great contest - Ray Sefo vs. Mark Hunt (and if you've never seen that, watch it, seriously, now).  Like Sefo vs. Hunt, this is a fight that doesn't need any backstory.  It's a moment that stands on its own, where even if you've never heard of either man, the combination of heart, determination, technique, and aggression they show is enough to grab you.  At a time in combat sports where the UFC is the clear top dog, and where Dana White's love of wild stand-up brawling has come to define how many fans view stand-up action, this fight is a definitive example of what stand-up can be.  Yes it's a brawl, but it's also two supremely skilled fighters never losing track of the technique needed to fight at this level.  It's a fight every fan of Griffin vs. Bonnar, Garcia vs. The Korean Zombie, or countless other recent fights really owes it to themselves to watch.

Chances are good you've already seen this fight, probably more than once.  But as we say our final good-byes to 2010, do yourself a favor and watch it once more.  You'll thank yourself later.

A big thanks to all our fans who voted in this poll.  In the end, Zambidis vs. Chahid was the clear winner, drawing 34% of the vote.  #2 and #3 were only separated by a handful of votes, with the sentimental favorite Peter Aerts vs. Semmy Schilt at #2, and the battle of the new guard in Gokhan Saki vs. Daniel Ghita at #3.  For full results, click here, and don't forget to vote on our new polls every week here at LiverKick.com.

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Watch the Cro Cop Final Fight Press Conference Here

  • Published in Kickboxing

Mirko Cro Cop's return to Kickboxing is rapidly approaching and yesterday Final Fight held a press conference in Croatia to discuss the event at length with Mirko, some of the other fighters and promoters there. Cro Cop talks about not wanting to fool Croatian fans by bringing in some can for him to fight (yes, he uses the word can) and that Ray Sefo is a worth and difficult opponent. At this point in both of their careers it is safe to say that this fight is a competitive one, so he is not simply blowing smoke with that statement. Watch the rest of the video here as a humble and subdued Mirko discusses his return to kickboxing. On top of his return this is a crazy stacked card, so for more information hit up the official site.

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Weekly Poll Results

  • Published in Kickboxing

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

40% - Very good, but not GP champ

24% - Average

20% - Dominant, he would win the GP

16% - He wouldn't do well

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

What do you think should be next for Ray Sefo?

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Weekly Poll Results

  • Published in K-1

Last week's results: After his loss at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva, what now for Ray Sefo?

55% - Focus on being a trainer, not a fighter

26% - Stop MMA and focus on kickboxing for one final run

11% - Keep doing what he's doing

8% - Stop kickboxing and focus full time on MMA

This week - a pretty straight forward question:

Who is K-1's Greatest of All Time?

Vote now!

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Liverkick Throwback: Mark Hunt Vs Ray Sefo

  • Published in Kickboxing

The world of kickboxing has a rich history to fall back upon so we here at LiverKick figure, why not? Why not give a glimpse into some of the fights from the past that have made up this wonderful sport and tie it all in to the present. The kids on the Instagram and Twitter like to call Thursdays "Throwback Thursdays," I'm just going to say that this is a LiverKick Throwback.

This week we figured it was the perfect time to post a throwback to Mark Hunt in K-1, not that there is ever a bad time to post any Mark Hunt fight. This is one of the best kickboxing slug fests of all time, Ray Sefo is known for his great chin, big power, and the way he drops his hands and urges people to hit him during fights, well Mark Hunt gave him a run for his money on all of these things. This was the 2001 K-1 WGP in Fukuoka, Mark hunt was granted the wild card spot because Mirko CroCop got injured, so happened to draw Ray Sefo's name. Even though in my eyes there is no loser in this fight apart from maybe some brain cells, the judges gave the fight to Sefo, but he had an eye injury so Hunt moved on to the finals to TKO Adam Watt and advance to the big stage in Tokyo in two months time. Mark Hunt proceeded to beat Jerome Le Banner, Stefan Leko, and Francisco Filho to become the K-1 World Grand Prix 2001 champion.

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