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K-1 Striking vs. MMA Striking: The Tired, Worthless Debate

  • Published in K-1

Kyotaro vs. MousasiI've finally had a chance to sit down and watch Dynamite!! and there is a lot to say reflecting upon the events from that show. There has been a bit of an ongoing debate over the "level" of K-1 strikers and how they compare to MMA strikers. The general fallout from the internet seems to be that the disparity between K-1 kickboxers and MMA fighters is slim, with K-1 fighters being overrated by fans and the talent pool being shallow at this point in time.

Of course, it didn't help that at Dynamite!! we saw Gegard Mousasi take K-1 Heavyweight Champion Kyotaro to the distance and win the fight via decision. Mousasi even scored a few knockdowns, and this comes off the heels of his 2008 victory over Musashi.

The year 2010 was also the year that saw Alistair Overeem, a fighter primarily known for competing in Mixed Martial Arts take home kickboxing's most coveted prize; the K-1 World Grand Prix Championship. Overeem has long been an interesting topic for debate; is he good? Is he just alright? Do his poor Light Heavyweight performances from a few years ago reflect upon him now? What lengths has he gone to improve his performance? If he isn't that good of a striker, what does it say about K-1 competition?

The truth is, kickboxers are being beaten at their own game. Overeem holds wins over Badr Hari, Peter Aerts (twice), Ewerton Teixeira, Dzevad Poturak, Tyrone Spong and Gokhan Saki. That list is impressive and contains some of K-1's best fighters. Mousasi only holds two K-1 victories, over an aging and ready to retire Musashi and a sluggish if not exhausted from competing weeks before Kyotaro, but is still being used as an example of a MMA fighter making K-1 look bad.

It seems foolish and unfair to label these fighters as either this or that. What really makes a fighter? Alistair Overeem has been training kickboxing since he was a teenager, making his pro debut at age 17 before switching over to MMA. Gegard Mousasi began his career as a boxer and kickboxer, transitioning to MMA and using his judo background combined with his striking prowess to be successful.

As we saw at Dynamite in Satoshi Ishii vs. Jerome Le Banner and Hideo Tokoro vs. Kazuhisa Watanabe, a striker moving into MMA put in grappling situations can be easily lost and frustrated, while a MMA fighter put in a pure striking situation can appear to be competent.

To use Gegard Mouasasi and Alistair Overeem as examples of Mixed Martial Artists "clowning" K-1 kickboxers is crass and an exercise in semantics at best. As I posed before, what really makes a fighter? Do the fact that both fighters' records in MMA are more prolific mean that they are Mixed MArtial Artists, or does the fact that they began as strikers mean that they are strikers that adapted a grappling game for Mixed Martial Arts, found success in MMA and stuck with it?

Both men train at kickboxing gyms with some of the best kickboxers in the world (Mousasi trains with Golden Glory when preparing for fights). The Golden Glory gym is primarily a kickboxing gym, while they train MMA fighters, they will always be known (rightfully so) as one of the best kickboxing gyms in the world. To me, Alistair Overeem's affiliation with Golden Glory just speaks of how serious he is about his striking.

Kickboxing and Muay Thai are arts in and of themselves and are incorporated, at least partially, into Mixed Martial Arts. If someone wants to make this argument maybe the survey field needs to grow; take a fighter who grapples as their primary art, toss them into a ring with Kyotaro or an injured Gokhan Saki or Peter Aerts and see how they fare. Rinse, repeat, because we all know a survey from a shallow test field does not yield exact results.

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Gokhan Saki Confirms He's Following Badr Hari to Boxing

  • Published in K-1

SakiThere have been a lot of rumors about Gokhan Saki lately, with the biggest one that he was looking to move into another sport. At first it was MMA, as Saki had talked about moving into the MMA world and singled out Melvin Manhoef as a possible opponent, jesting that he'd armbar Manhoef, whose kryptonite has been the armbar throughout his MMA career. That talk quickly died down, though, and then the Boxing talk started. A recent interview with FightHype confirms that Saki is planning his big move to Heavyweight Boxing after his fight with Badr Hari in January. It isn't clear if he is leaving Kickboxing altogether or if he'll still take Kickboxing fights, but he does seem very serious about Boxing.

“It’s been difficult and uncertain how kickboxing will develop in the near future, as well as in a long run. Besides, I feel there isn’t a lot of competition for me anymore. I want to develop my skills and possibilities into new heights…Heavyweight boxing nowadays is very pitiful. The Klitschko brothers are very smart guys and very professional athletes. Nevertheless, both of them I will fight and they won’t make the 12th round. For me, it is unbelievable how both David Haye and Tomasz Adamek fought their fights. If one of these brothers would dare to fight me, I’ll get in the ring in no time. Boxing is really sad nowadays. One of the Klitschko brothers has fought in kickboxing. Watch him on YouTube. You will laugh your butt of. And think how long they would last against me? And in the boxing game, it will be the same thing…boxing requires adjustments in style, intensity, and the way you move. Adapting to this won’t be a problem, but needs time and with help from the best in the boxing industry, I’ll be able to accomplish this…I will destroy everybody. From a boxing perspective, I reflect on the Mike Tyson fights and how to make it a war with the tall guys. No kicks, no knees, no problem; who dares to fight me,” stated K-1 stand-out Gökhan Saki, who made it clear that he too is eager to make the transition from kickboxing to boxing after his rematch with Badr Hari in January. [source]
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Anderson Silva: Pro Boxer & Muay Thai Fighter

  • Published in Kickboxing

Silva BelfortHere at LiverKick.com we may like to keep our focus on the world of kickboxing and Muay Thai, but there’s no denying that this weekend’s big fight takes place in MMA where Anderson Silva meets Vitor Belfort at UFC 126.  And while some MMA fights may not hold much interest for kickboxing fans, this is a stand up battle that intrigues me.  Silva and Belfort are two superb stand-up talents, and their championship showdown on Saturday should pique the interest of kickboxing fans everywhere.

In the past weeks, there have been mountains of analysis on this fight, but we wanted to take a look at it from a slightly different angle.  Today and tomorrow, we’ll take a look at how each man has fared in exclusively stand-up competition – Silva in Muay Thai and boxing matches, and Belfort in boxing.

Now, before we dive in, let me just say that the style of striking used in boxing or Muay Thai competition is going to need to be adjusted when making the transition to Mixed Martial Arts.  There are so many things you have to concern yourself with in MMA that employing what would be perfect technique in a boxing match can lead to your quick defeat under MMA rules.  When you use purely Muay Thai criteria to criticize a MMA fighter’s striking ability, you often fail to recognize that these are similar, but different sports.  So this is not intended as a way to comprehensively assess each man’s MMA striking – many MMA pundits have handled that.  Instead, this is an alternative way to look at one of the most kickboxing focused MMA championship fights we are likely to see this year.

Today, we kick things off with a look at the Muay Thai and professional boxing career of the dominant, brilliant UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

Even if you are an MMA fan who knows little about full Muay Thai, it should come as no surprise that Silva has competed under these rules.  He still uses a variety of Muay Thai techniques in his UFC career – the most notable being the Muay Thai clinch (or Plum Clinch as it is somewhat controversially known in MMA circles), which he used most effectively in his two destructions of Rich Franklin.  He also has some nasty Muay Thai styled elbows in his arsenal, one of which he used to great success against Tony Fryklund:

Unfortunately, the world of Muay Thai competition is hard to fully document, so while Silva has definitely trained Muay Thai extensively, it’s hard to know exactly how many professional fights he has competed in under these rules.  Only one exists on the web, this fight against Tadeu Sammartino.  No clue when this is from, but judging Silva’s build I would guess somewhere around 2004-ish.

What strikes me in this fight is that although Silva is often cited as having a strong Muay Thai background, he fights here like a K-1 rules style kickboxer instead of a traditional Muay Thai fighter.  He’s very active on his feet, bouncing around and using a lot of side to side movement.  This is a sharp contrast to the more Muay Thai style of planting your feet and checking strikes instead of evading (for a great analysis on this difference check out this discussion on Silva at My Muay Thai).

He also relies heavily on his hands, which are the lowest scoring strike in traditional Muay Thai.  Silva does use kicks, but he doesn’t always swivel his hips to throw them with full power, instead using them largely to get his opponent off balance in order to set up the punches.  And like many of his MMA fights, it’s the punches that do the real damage, including a quick punch he uses to land the first knockdown here that is very reminiscent of the Forrest Griffin KO.

Finally, while Silva is praised for his knees in the clinch, you see here that he primarily uses those knees when he has the clinch around the back of his opponent’s head.  On a few occasions, the two men have a body clinch, however we do not see the exchange of knees to the body so often used in Muay Thai. He has taken the aspects of Muay Thai that work for him, but is far from a traditional MT fighter.

With Silva’s use of punches, and his very vocal appreciation for Roy Jones Jr., it’s no shock he has tried his hand at professional boxing.  The Spider is 1-1 as a pro boxer.  His first fight was a loss way back in 1998, two years before his MMA debut.  He faced Osmar Luiz Teixeira, 11-2 at the time.  Silva was stopped in the 2nd; I don’t believe footage of this fight exists.  His more well known 2nd bout took place in 2005, less than a year before his UFC debut.  Here, he faced Julio Cesar De Jesus, a Brazilian fighter who has never fought before or since.

Once again, we see Silva’s very active footwork on display here.  As in the previous bout, Silva is constantly on the move, coming in and out of range throughout the fight.  For boxing, this is a common style, and Silva uses it well.  What impresses me with his movement is his knowledge of when to move and when to plant his feet in order to land power shots.

One aspect of his game that this fight really points out is Silva’s defense.  In this fight, as in many others, Silva relies on a combination of speed and a tough chin as his primary defense.  He doesn’t use his hands much to block punches, and gets tagged with a few good shots here as a result – the most notable being in the first round after Silva decides to try a little showboating.  He has a tough chin, so he wades right through those shots, but they do land.  This could be a concern on Saturday, as Vitor Belfort is a fighter who only needs the smallest of openings to finish a fight – just ask Wanderlei Silva or Rich Franklin what happens when you let Vitor land one good punch.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for a look at the boxing career of Vitor Belfort.

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Badr Hari on Naazim Richardson: "Can't Wait to Work With Him"

  • Published in K-1

Badr HariBadr Hari is steadfast in making his transition to the Heavyweight Boxing world, and it seems like Naazim Richardson has been chosen to be his main trainer by Mike Passenier and Hari himself. Yesterday we looked at an interview with Naazim where he talked about looking forward to working with Badr Hari, and it appears that FightHype has been busy working all sides of the spectrum as they put up an interview with Badr Hari himself. In the interview with Badr they discuss his yearly trip to Morocco, which is where he has been recently -- not with Brock Lesnar -- and how important his Muslim roots are to him. Badr also has a rather enlightened view of religion saying that it is a very personal thing that has been pushed upon other people and started wars.

Hari is looking forward to working with Naazim Richardson, though, and talks about how Naazim was selected as his trainer.

PC: When you come over to boxing, you are looking to work with Naazim Richardson. It was important to Mike Passenier that you trained under another Muslim as well as a guy like Naazim, who works with another guy with a street background. How important was that to you?

BH: That's not what he said. He said that it is an extra because he knows all the rituals etc. for being a Muslim. It is important to him that I have a trainer who is there for me, who can motivate me, and bring me to the top level; a trainer who brings out the best in me. And that is important to me too. I want to be number one. I don't come for second place; not in fighting and not by a trainer.

Hari also discusses his last fight in kickboxing with Gokhan Saki and dodges a lot of personal questions, read the rest of the interview here. Ominous by its absence is any discussion about fighting for K-1 again.

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Vitor Belfort: Pro Boxer

  • Published in Kickboxing

Vitor Belfort and Anderson SilvaYesterday we took a look at Anderson Silva as part 1 of our LiverKick.com take on Saturday’s big UFC 126 showdown between Silva and Vitor Belfort.  If you missed it, be sure to read that article here for a look at Silva’s Muay Thai and Pro Boxing careers.  Today, part 2 as we examine the boxing career of Saturday’s challenger: “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort.

Belfort’s career as a boxer has many similarities to Silva’s.  Belfort has just one pro boxing bout to his name, and like Silva, Belfort’s opponent was another one and done fighter.  But while Silva tried his hand at boxing just before hitting his MMA peak, Vitor’s boxing debut came at a very different point on his career trajectory.

Belfort made his boxing debut in April 2006, and while it was a small show in Brazil, there were many eyes on the fight.  Because Vitor Belfort was only a year removed from his 2nd UFC run and the classic series of fights with Chuck Liddell, Marvin Eastman, Randy Couture, and Tito Ortiz.  In the time since leaving the UFC, he had taken two fights (including his first encounter with Alistair Overeem); he had also spoken openly about his plans to compete as a boxer.

The idea of Vitor Belfort as a boxer makes a lot of sense.  Despite talk of his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu pedigree, Vitor is and always has been a largely one dimensional MMA fighter, using his hand speed and power throughout his career (Belfort did try out a new wrestling based style in Pride, which was successful, though incredibly boring).  And so fans were interested in what kind of skills Belfort the boxer would bring to the table when he met Josemario Neves.

As it turns out, Vitor Belfort the boxer is not much different from Vitor Belfort the MMA fighter, which in all honesty is not a bad thing.  Belfort’s strength has always been his boxing, so for him to focus on those skills and really keep his game tuned to this strength is a smart move.  And here we do see some nice examples of Belfort tightening up his technique.  One quick exchange I like comes when Neves tries to trap Belfort against the ropes.  Once he has Vitor pushed back, Neves goes for a punch, but Belfort ducks the punch and steps out to the side, escaping the punch and the bad positioning in one fluid motion.

This fight really displays Vitor’s greatest strength – the killer instinct and knowledge of when to finish a fight.  Belfort is one of the best at this in the history of MMA – once he tags you, he simply unloads until you are done.  If you watch Vitor’s left hand here you can see when he decides to switch gears and end the fight.  For the majority of the fight, he keeps that left hand high and close to his chin in a very strong defensive position, ready to block any incoming punches.  Once he hurts Neves just before the first knockdown, he gives up that defense in favor of landing as many heavy shots as he can as quickly as he can.  In some ways it’s a gamble – leaving yourself open to go for the kill can get you hit – but Belfort knows when to time it so that he stays safe.  It’s telling that Belfort has used that flurry to KO numerous opponents, but never once has an opponent landed a counter strike to drop Belfort during these rapid fire attacks.

One other interesting aspect from this fight is that, because this is boxing and not MMA, Vitor needs to do more than just overwhelm his opponent once suddenly – he needs to hurt him enough to keep him down or continue the assault after his opponent has time to recover.  Here, Vitor’s power is not enough to keep Neves down for a 10 count, but it is enough that after the first knockdown, the fight is essentially over.  The moment they begin to exchange again after that initial knockdown, it’s clear that Neves has nothing left to offer.  Vitor swarms him again, then once more for the 3 knockdown victory.

When he faces Anderson Silva tomorrow night, all it will take is one opening for Vitor to launch that rapid fire attack, overwhelm Silva once, and again become UFC champion (though hopefully this time it will be a bit more legitimate).  What’s tricky for Belfort is that, while no man has yet countered that quick attack, if there’s any man to do it, it’s Silva.  Will Silva give Belfort the opening he needs?  And if he does, will the sublime striking we know Silva is capable of be able to save him?  We’ll know soon enough.

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LiverKick Talks With K-1's Jarrell Miller Week 1: The Introduction

  • Published in Interviews

Jarrell Miller

K-1 returns on September 8th with the K-1 U.S. Grand Prix in Los Angeles, with an American line up of both old stars and new, K-1 looks to make its biggest impact yet on the United States with its own unique brand of fighting. LiverKick has the pleasure of bringing you, the reader, insight into the mind of one of the newer fighters to the K-1 ring, Jarrell Miller. Over the next four weeks we will be talking with Jarrell and bringing you his thoughts and preparations leading up to his fight against another newcomer to K-1, Jack May.

“Daniel Ghita,” Jarrell told me, without a hint of hesitation in his voice. “If I were looking forward to fighting one guy in this K-1 tournament, it would be Daniel Ghita. I want to whoop Daniel Ghita’s ass, that’s for sure.”

This is how I want to introduce fans to Jarrell Miller. To many, this would seem like an empty boast, part of pre-fight preparations and the process of psyching up to take on the world. Jarrell Miller, though, is a bit of a different case. Jarrell is only 23 years old, and already packs a 19-0 record in Kickboxing and Muay Thai as well as a professional Boxing record of 3-0. There is something to be said for remaining undefeated early on in a professional career, but it isn’t like Jarrell has been without challenge. Jarrell is a man with many nicknames, and if you were lucky enough to catch the WCL - World Combat League - when it was running, you’ll remember him as the 19 year old kid named Achilles King who defeated UFC superstar Pat Barry. That was Jarrell.

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Naazim Richardson on Badr Hari: "He Has the Right Mentality"

  • Published in K-1

Badr HariKickboxing's Bad Boy Badr Hari has made it clear that he intends to make the jump to Heavyweight Boxing after his January 28th fight with Gokhan Saki. He mentioned surrounding himself with the right people, and this recent interview with Naazim Richardson from FightHype.com confirms that Badr Hari and Mike Passenier have been looking into the right people to make Badr Hari's Heavyweight Boxing career happen. Naazim seems to have a certain level of confidence in Badr Hari, but isn't making any big promises yet. Check out the full interview for more.

PC: You recently met with kickboxer Badr Hari and his trainer Mike Passenier. They really wanted to meet you and it happened. He wants to work with you, man. How is that looking?

NR: Badr Hari is a good dude and so is his trainer, Mike. You know, Badr Hari won me over, man. As soon as we met, he told me he wouldn't let me down and that he would make me proud. But that's not what won me over. What won me over is he said, "I don't want to be top 10. I want to be the fucking best." He has the right mentality to do this shit right here. I tell fighters all of the time, "You are not considered great until you beat someone that you weren't supposed to beat." Ali did it several times. Ali wasn't supposed to beat Liston, he wasn't supposed to beat Foreman, and he wasn't supposed to beat Spinks. He proved his greatness over and over again. Foreman did the same thing with Joe Frazier. Joe Frazier did the same thing in his first fight with Ali. So you don't prove your greatness until you win a fight that you weren't supposed to win. This kid Badr has the right mentality to win a lot of fights he's not supposed to win. But he is...how old is he?

PC: He's 26.

NR: Yeah, he thinks like a 26 year old. He feels he's indestructible. I told him this, I said, "You have a trunk of weaponry and you have an army of guys coming up the stairs to get you. Your problem is you don't know if you want to shoot them with the M-16, the AR, the 9MM, the assault rifle, the sawed off shotgun or the M-4. By the time you figure out which one you're going to use, they are already up the stairs and in your shit. See, those two brothers in Europe got one weapon and it's an old shotgun. They sitting on the couch with that shotgun and when that door knob turns, they are shooting you with that shotgun." I told him that's the only difference. Our goal is to figure out when to use all of those weapons because he's going to need them all, but you just have to know when to use them. The Klitschkos utilize the hell out of that one gun they have. I could tell he didn't like the Klitschkos, so I kept talking about them in a positive light to see how he would react. I think this guy has the goods, man. I love the kid's mentality. And he is every bit of 6'6". I got downstairs to where him and Mike were and he stood up, I said, "Damn this kid is a legitimate 6'6"." And something else I told him, whether the Klitschkos are around or not, when he is ready for that level, our job is to make them realize they don't belong. See, Larry Holmes stuck around to try and show Mike Tyson it was still his time. Mike wasn't having that shit. When Mike hit Larry, it looked like someone cut a hole threw the mat and yanked Larry through it. Mike Tyson let him know his time had come and gone and that's what my goal is with Badr. If they want to stick around, we either gotta let them see Badr fight and say, "Hey man, it's time for us to move on," or do what Mike did to Larry and show them it's time for them to move on.

Bouie Fisher used to always tell me in the gym, "Watch that door and eventually the right kid is going to walk through it." I asked him what he meant by that and he said, "One day, a kid is going to walk through that door and do whatever you tell him to do and be able to adjust to anything that you want him to adjust to." I remember when me and Freddie Roach was working together and Freddie told me when Manny Pacquiao walked through the door at Wild Card Gym, he said to himself, "That's who I built this gym for." Freddie was reluctant to work with Pacquiao at first because he knew there wasn't much entity at those lower weight classes, and Manny was a small dude. One day, Manny had no one to hold the mitts for him and asked Freddie to give him 2 rounds, and from that moment on, Freddie knew what he had. Badr Hari could be that type of kid.
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LiverKick Talks With K-1's Jarrell Miller Week 3: Breaking Faces

  • Published in Interviews

Jarrell

K-1 returns on September 8th with the K-1 U.S. Grand Prix in Los Angeles, with an American line up of both old stars and new, K-1 looks to make its biggest impact yet on the United States with its own unique brand of fighting. LiverKick has the pleasure of bringing you, the reader, insight into the mind of one of the newer fighters to the K-1 ring, Jarrell Miller. Over the next four weeks we will be talking with Jarrell and bringing you his thoughts and preparations leading up to his fight against another newcomer to K-1, Jack May. This is week 3.

This week as a big week for K-1, as K-1 and Spike TV announced a multi-platform deal which means that the September 8th show will be streamed live on Spike TV’s website, Spike.com. Spike.com has been airing Bellator MMA events on there and see a healthy amount of traffic, which for this event only means that more eyes will be on it. We asked Jarrell if this changes anything for him.

“Nah, I mean, I’m motivated regardless. Even if this fight was shown in, you know, a hole in the wall I’d be motivated,” he explains. “I’m even more excited knowing that more eyes are on me now. At the end of the day, I know what I gotta do regardless. You know, I got my life on the line here.”

But that wasn’t the only thing that was new for this week for Jarrell, as he has ramped up his training considerably. Originally slated to work with Phil Nurse, they’ve switched up his camp a bit and brought in a new striking coach for him and the focus has been on his kicks, as his hands don’t need the same type of focus.

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LiverKick Talks With K-1's Jarrell Miller Week 2: Training for His Olympics

  • Published in Interviews

Jarrell Miller

K-1 returns on September 8th with the K-1 U.S. Grand Prix in Los Angeles, with an American line up of both old stars and new, K-1 looks to make its biggest impact yet on the United States with its own unique brand of fighting. LiverKick has the pleasure of bringing you, the reader, insight into the mind of one of the newer fighters to the K-1 ring, Jarrell Miller. Over the next four weeks we will be talking with Jarrell and bringing you his thoughts and preparations leading up to his fight against another newcomer to K-1, Jack May. This is week two.

“You know, man, this is my Olympics, you know?” Jarrell Miller, one of the few younger fighters selected for K-1’s American return explained to me. “I came into Boxing and I was already a professional fighter, so I didn’t get to go through the amateur system like some guys do. I didn’t get to go to the Olympics, man. So for me, fighting in K-1, that is like the Olympics for me.”

To say that Jarrell Miller will be prepared for his upcoming bout in Los Angeles is an understatement, I think. Miller, whose Muay Thai and Kickboxing career spans 19 fights now has transitioned to Boxing where he has seen a deal of success in a short period of time. By the time he steps into the ring with Jack May in September, Jarrell Miller will be just about a year removed from his last Kickboxing fight, but he isn’t worried about being rusty.

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Howson stopped on cuts; Retirement of the champ ends an otherwise great event in Leeds

  • Published in Europe

By Daniel Fletcher

Every champion falls, every great fighter declines, and every star burns out or fades away. It is the nature of the beast; as inherent and inexorable a fact as that the Earth orbits the Sun, that grass is green and that Michael Schiavello will scream "Goodnight Irene!" during a fight broadcast when a fighter gets sparked. To get proverbial, what goes up must come down, and as a promising young fighter embarks on his career, the ageing warrior must one day reach the point where the journey must end.

Andy Howson lost his ISKA world title last night, and subsequently announced his retirement. He was cheered by a raucous following, and hugged by the friend that had just relieved him of his championship belt. The show was over.

After 13yrs, he admitted that the young had usurped the (comparatively) old, and that his time was done. "After 13yrs, a lot of hard fights and a few world titles" was his own way of putting it, but he neglected to mention the respect of his peers, the support of his friends and his team, and the fact he went out being cheered. Hey, home town or not, even legends get booed at the end... just ask Nigel Benn. Going out to cheers and applause is a pinnacle.

As for the fight itself, it was a counter-striking technician against a shorter, more brawling orientated scrapper in Andy. Dean James used his range well, and though he initially showed Howson a great deal of respect in a cautious opening round, he turned it up a notch in the final minute of the second. A standing elbow landed precisely, arcing down onto Howson's head and cutting him open. The blitzkrieg was expected from the defending champion in the third, but it was this round that the downfall continuted; while Andy pressed, James began to pick him off and avoiding the inside work, landed another elbow from the clinch. Wobbled, Howson was forced back to the ropes, and a short elbow from the clinch dropped him. He survived the round.

(Photo courtesy of http://muaythaiphotos.com)

Howson cut

The fourth round spelled the end. As one fan put it, Howson "went crazy as only he can", and tried flurrying to turn the contest into an all out brawl. James complied to some extent, and should be credited for not playing an overly cautious technical game in his victory; this was an exciting contest. Alas, it had to end, and after allowing the bout to continue following a check up, the referee called another halt as the two head wounds spat blood, some of which was running down into Howson's eyes. An audible groan went round, as Dean James was declared the new ISKA World Bantamweight champion, and Howson's reign was ended.

Ultimate respect to Andy Howson, one of Leeds, Yorkshire and England's best Muay Thai fighters, and a very likeable guy.

Jordan Watson did not compete on the card, as his recent title defence over Cedric Mueller of France was still reminding his body about it. He did, however, speak very candidly with me about the 70kg MAX division he competes in, and there will be more on that in my next upload. Stay tuned.

Howson's retirement and Watson's non-participation didn't entirely cast ill-omen on Bad Company at the event, and they had their moments of triumph too. Lee Mundin outpointed Jo Boffey, thanks to a Herculean comeback in the final two rounds. Boffey had nudged ahead on the scorecards leading into the fourth, but Mundin earned a win for Bad Company in handsomely outlanding and outworking Boffey and taking the decision victory.

Also a victor was "Nice Guy" Eddie Long. The unassuming 78kg fighter has a peculiar hunched stance, his chin tucked and hands held outwards Remy style. It led me to ask his sparring partner, "The Myth" whether or not Long had a glass jaw that needed protecting at all costs. Not only the answer he gave, but the fight in question proved that he certainly didn't - Lee Keegan was unable to hurt him, and struggled to deal with the leg kicks dished out by the Bad Company man. At the end of the first round, his right leg was visibly wilting, with redness showing at the back of his thigh, and the expected finish came soon after. Despite his outward calm, Keegan backed into his corner and was more focused on blocking Long's leg kicks as opposed to dishing out his own offence, and after one too many right lowkicks, he buckled, and was unable to beat the count.

Off to a winning start for Long, who will look to compete at a forthcoming HGH Promotions or Bad Company promoted show. Who says nice guys finish last?

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