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Absolutely Do Not Push Takeru While He's Wearing His K-1 Championship

  • Published in K-1

K-1 Japan has another, star-studded and most likely knockout-filled card approaching on the 24th of June, featuring a 65kg tournament. Also featured on the card will be K-1 -55kg Champion Takeru taking on Ozawa Kaito. At a recent press conference for the event both men stared down and Kaito decided to get cute with Takeru. Takeru is, of course, a beautiful, violent soul, which is to say that it didn't work out too well. Here's the thing, don't come at Takeru while he's wearing his belt.

Apparently he's kind of invincible while wearing it, because this one-handed judo takedown is just a thing of beauty.

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K-1 World Amateur Championships in November, Plus K-1 Japan 70kg in July is Amazing

  • Published in K-1

After a bit of radio silence from K-1 over the past few months K-1 has announced that they will be holding a world amateur championship this November in Italy. It will run on November 13-15th in Tuscany and if you are an amateur fighter interested in testing your mettle and being crowned as an amateur world champion you can contact them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

On the K-1 Japan front they are still gearing up for the K-1 Japan 70kg Championship tournament on July 4th. It features a one-night tournament featuring eight 70kg fighters, one could even argue some of the best in the world, while the rest of the card is up to the usual K-1 Japan standards of excellence. Seriously, I dare you to find a better card than this from this year. You won't.

70kg Tournament

Reserve: Sergey Adamchuk vs. Kazuya Akimoto

Quarterfinal: Marat Grigorian vs. Yoichi Yamazaki

Quarterfinal: Dylan Salvador vs. Makahira Keita

Quarterfinal: Hiroki Nakajima vs. Sanny Dahlbeck

Quarterfinal: Daiki Watanabe vs. Jordan Pikeur

Super Fights

Hirotaka Urabe vs. Toshi

Minoru Kimura vs. Massaro Glunder

Takeru vs. Hakim Hamech

Koya Urabe vs. Konstantin Trishin

Kaew Fairtex vs. Yasuomi Soda

 

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An argument for why now is the best time ever to be a kickboxing fan

  • Published in Kickboxing

As usual, I began my weekly prep of the Warman Kickfighting podcast show by writing out my notes. I watched the Thai stadium muay thai fights for critical breakdown. Then I rewatched fights from the Glory 28 participants before this weekends event. As I watched them, I realize that I had just done this for a Glory card two weeks ago. Then it hit me that there seems to be multiple major cards every week. From Enfusion having their most successful card, to Lion Fight having another stoppage filled event, every weekend has been full of fights. In the next two months we have Yokkao, Bellator's kickboxing league, Holland's World Fighting League, and another Glory card. I have been a kickboxing fan for a long time. I cannot remember a better time to be a kickboxing fan, and yet we may be held back from enjoying it by our oldest fan base.

BLESSED AND CURSED BY OUR HISTORY

In the 90s, when K-1 emerged muay thai and kickboxing didn't just have several events. They dominated the martial arts sporting combat culture. UFC at that time was considered street fighting. The term mixed martial artist was not in use. A skilled martial artist tested themselves in kickboxing or muay thai. They had the K-1 World Grand Prix, which put the value of state and country driven world titles and put the athletes to the test in a tournament field of the best. Names like Aerts, Hoost, Bernardo, Hug, and Lebanner emerge as consistent victors and major international stars. But just as important as the star, the major K-1 tournament produced a holy place. Everyone wanted to one day fight in Japan, where there was borderline idol worship of elite combatants. 

Along with this came the advancement of technology. Computers went from novelty to mandatory in homes across the world. With this brought the emergence of fight forums, where people from all around the world would weigh in on the events of their region, stars to look out for, and of course, long breakdowns of the major K-1 fight cards. European based Super League got some attention, but clearly, the leagues of note were K-1’s Heavyweight and 70kg Max divisions. 

Flash Forward to 2011. K-1, due to multiple reasons, ran into financial trouble. They began to do less and less shows and eventually had to cancel their World Cup. They had no K-1 WGP that year. Interests down, the emergence of mixed martial arts and the UFC as the new leader in the culture of combat sports, and many proclaimed the end of kickboxing. 

THE TURN

Then, the Glory group attempted to buy K-1. They decided against it after seeing the mess of contracts and debt they would be absorbing. But, rich people play the game of business best, and they were able to purchase Simon Rutz's It’s Showtime management team. Rutz had almost every major European K-1 star under his roster and they were pulled from K-1 and began fighting in Glory on a regular basis. 

K-1 was also hit with a fantastic turn for the best. The K-1 Global Holdings Ltd. attempted to recreate the old flame of K-1s greatness. A failed attempt of an event in USA and a K-1 World Grand Prix that did not have the best fighters in the world ruined the brand more than helped it. The group that took over at the end of the K-1 Global run decided to focus on smaller weights and remain in the Asian Market of which they had great history. 

In the last two years both companies have overcome rocky starts and have begun to have consistent success. Glory had the early mistake. A failed PPV event and the longest fight card ever on NYE did not push the brand. However, they signed major US television deals with Spike and now ESPN, something K-1 never accomplished. Just as important as being seen is creating stars. Nieky Holzken and Rico Verhoeven are Glory brand created stars. Sure a young Holzken fought in K-1 and lost to superstar Buakaw. That drained down version wasn't his best showing, though. Holzken, now fighting at 77kgs, is considered the must see guy in the sport. His combinations, body shots, knockout power, and fight flow are amazing. Verhoeven went from journeyman heavyweight with no punching pop, to the unchallenged best in the world and the KO power to match his awesome technique. 

Improved K-1 too had some failure. A K-1 Max GP that ended in scandal as one of the fighters(Two time champ Buakaw) said that he was warned of foul play in the judges and refused to fight the extra round of a K-1 MAX FINAL MATCH. Since then they have focused on weight classes that have elite Japanese athletes. K-1 had their most success with Masato, a young, exciting fighter who the girls loved and had the skill to beat the elite. As many of Japan's elite combat sport athletes are shorter, focusing on weight classes like 65kgs, 60kgs, and now 55kgs has produced several athletes from Japan that create Japanese television interests. Masaaki Noiri, brothers Koya and Hirotaka Urabe, Japanese adopted Kimura "Phillip" Minoru and 55kg stud Takeru are their homegrown stars. K-1 puts on five solid shows a year and though they don't have the production value of events past, the crowd and ring action are excellent every card. 

With the success of these two super powers, we have solid paychecks from China. Kunlun is hard to follow because it has a lot of fights, but not a lot of narrative. However they have put together some fantastic 4 man tournaments and super fights on their cards. Kunlun is also not exclusive, meaning that K-1 and Glory athletes are able to pick up a fight here and there and grab good paydays, as long as it doesn't conflict with their major promotions events. 

As for women, this is also the best time to be in the sport. When I first fell in love with kickboxing and Muay Thai it was a three woman list at most. Names like Rijker, De Randamie, Kitchen, Rivera-Parr, and Elmont were amazing competitors, but got very little recognition. Thanks to Enfusion, Kunlun and now Bellator's kickboxing league. There aren't just good paydays out there. There are great exposure opportunities as well. Iman Barlow was the first woman pushed by Enfusion and after a reality show victory, they began pushing Anissa Meksen as well. Denise Keilholtz is an Enfusion champion who will now be fighting for Bellator's kickboxing company as well. Lion Fight was birthed on champions like American Tiffany van Soest. We are truly in a different age. Despite this, older fans are still missing the above improvements and continuing to think kickboxing remains in a down period.

CHANGING MINDS

The struggle with noticing the improvement is the old guard of kickboxing fans that misunderstood success in the kickboxing prime of 1994-2003. They judge today's athletes with old expectations. They recognize kickboxing as K-1, the way people recognize MMA as UFC. With no heavyweights winning tournaments in Japan once a year, they assume the sport is down.

They also struggled to grasp the movement of technology. I think a major reason why older fans feel the sport is dead is because it lived on fight forums. As "Lord Gaul" I was a 1000+ post man on several sites. We would talk about every punch in every fight for months before and after. With that being absent, people see the sport as dead. 

What those fans have missed in these two examples is that K-1 was only good for the heavyweights and Max weight guys. Dimitri Shukuta and Joeri Mes were the elite 77kg fighters of their era. But they had no home. The moment Super League went away they were forced to look for single fights. Mes at the end of his career was able to lean down and take a few K-1 fights. But for the majority of those in-between the weight classes, this was a loss. Guys like Kamel Jamel, Anuwat, Liam Harrison were too small, and guys like Clifton Brown and Nathan Corbett were stuck in the middle. Imagine if they had a middleweight K-1 belt to battle for. Tyrone Spong moving up the weight classes would have gotten even more attention if he won the K-1 belt at every single weight on his way up to heavyweight. We are in a special time when the most prominent company has a home for the majority of the world's weight classes.

The technology evolved for the best. YouTube was pretty new when I got into kickboxing and it was actually looked down upon in kickboxing communities. People wanted links to download for their hard drives. Sendspace and Megaupload where the acceptable modes of sharing and those that didn't share were called "leechers." We are 10plus years past that now. YouTube is the heavyweight champ in the video world. Not only can you find most videos there, but the major promotions upload content for you to watch, as advertising money can be made with viewership. So of course the number of visitors to the fight forums would go down once access to the videos got easier. Twitter is another addition. We use to post and then press reload to see other peoples post. It is far easier posting on the ever scrolling wall of twitter. You can now watch a stream of the event on your computer and tweet on your phone...or vice versa. 

Now I am not saying this changes cover everything we had in the prime years. I personally dreamed of the Japanese crowd when I pursued a kickboxing career. The K-1 tournament was indeed a special event exclusive to kickboxing, with its awesome white belt and massive trophy prize. Also all the cultural challenged aren't gone. Now stand up fighters see kickboxing and Muay Thai as something they do in preparation for MMA careers. However I can't help but be excited for the next generation of kickboxers. Enfusion and Glory do ten plus shows a year. K-1 and Yokkao do five plus, and Kunlun does fifteen plus. There are more opportunities to fight in front of large audiences, have access to more television and online stream exposure, make better paydays, and they can pursue kickboxing combat sports careers with more opportunities to compete than ever before. 

 

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Final Card for K-1 Japan on January 18th

  • Published in K-1

K-1’s Japan contingent have promised us what looks to be a pretty amazing card on January 18th. The event features a classic K-1 one night tournament, this time at 60kg. It features a mix of names that we know from the Japanese scene to some heavy hitters from around the world including Javier Hernandez, Karim Bennoui and Denis Puric.

The rest of the card is an awesome, eclectic mix of styles with some really fascinating fights on the card. Kaew Fairtex vs. Minoru Kimura is an awesome, awesome fight and I’m very happy to see Sanny Dahlbeck back in the mix against the very awesome Yoshihiro Sato. This event will be broadcast on NicoNico on the 18th.

HW: Manabu vs Fujita Tomoya
60kg: Yuma vs Kanbe Shota
65kg: Goto Masanobu vs Saito Yuta
65kg: Hiramoto Ren vs Ishikawa Yuki
60kg GP Reserve Fight: TOSHI vs Kim Hun Jae
60kg GP: Shimano Kotaro vs Javier Hernandez
60kg GP: Urabe Hirotaka vs Karim Bennoui
60kg GP: Yamamoto Masahiro vs Gagny Baradji
60kg GP: Urabe Koya vs Denis Puric
65kg: Kaew Fairtex vs Kimura Minoru
70kg: Sato Yoshihiro vs Sanny Dahlbeck
55kg: Takiya Shota vs Shou Rong
55kg: Tobe Ryuma vs Horio Ryuji
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Trailer for K-1 World GP in Japan -65kgs Tournament

  • Published in K-1

K-1 returns to Japan with the K-1 World GP in Japan -65kgs tournamnent featuring some of the best -65kg talent in the world in a one-night, eight man tournament to crown a champion. This event goes down on November 3rd in Japan and this, my friends, is a trailer for it.

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K-1 Japan -55kg Tournament Results

  • Published in Asia

K-1 Japan held their big 55kg tournament event last night in a night that saw TAKERU overcome the competition and pick up the big tournament victory over TAIGA in the finals. TAIGA fought hard but went down twice to TAKERU. 

Results are from our friend Kazuma.

65Kg SUPER FIGHT
Kimura Filip Minoru (Brazil) def. HIROYA (Japan) By KO in Round 1
60Kg SUPER FIGHT
Urabe Koya (Japan) def. Javier Hernandez (Spain) By Decision
55Kg Tournament Quarter Finals
Takeru def. Alexandre Prilip By KO
Shota Takiya def. Danial Williams By Bad Decision, Extra Round
Nobuchika Terado def. Rui Botelho By Bad Decision, Extra Round
Taiga def. Soufiane El Haji By Decision
55Kg Tournament Semi Finals
TAKERU def. Shota Takiya By KO
TAIGA def. Nobuchika Terado By KO
55Kg Tournament Finals
TAKERU def. TAIGA By Decision 
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K-1 Japan's Survival Wars Card is Packed

  • Published in K-1

This weekend might not have delivered on the kickboxing action that you have hoped it would have, but there is still hope by the way of K-1 Japan. On September 22nd K-1 Japan will put forth their latest effort in Survival Wars. K-1 Japan have been putting on some of the very best shows anywhere in the world for quite a while now and this show looks to be no different including an awesome main event between Kimura Minoru and Ren Hiramato. 

As always, it will be airing on NicoNico. There is also word of them having a big announcement in regards to airing on a broadcast television network in Japan. There is hope yet.

Main Card

Main Event - 65KG Super Fight

Kimura 'Philip' Minoru VS Hiramoto Ren

Co-Main Event - 55KG Challenger Finals

Daniel Williams VS Charles Bongiovanni

70KG Fight

Shintaro Matsukura VS Tian Xin

Super Exhibition (2x2)

Koya Urabe VS Takeru

70KG Fight

Kazuya Akimoto VS Keiji

55KG Fight

Taisuke Degai VS Yuichiro Ito

55KG Fight

Namito Izawa VS Satoshi Katashima

Heavyweight Fight

Hitoshi Sugimoto VS Hidekazu Kimura

65KG Fight

Minamino Takayuki VS Waki Mitsuharu

Undercard

70kg Fight

Jinbo Katsuya VS Yasuhi Hitoshi

70kg Fight

Tsuyoshi Oh VS Daisuke 

Heavyweight Fight

Yoshinari VS Hase

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K-1 World Grand Prix -65kg Results: Kaew the Killer

  • Published in Asia

K-1 Japan held their K-1 World Grand Prix -65kg tournament last night in Japan in a night full of huge fights and a -65kg tournament that determined the best fighter in the weight class. Like a buzzsaw, Kaew Fairtex found himself holding steady as the king of the -65kg division, winning his second K-1 World Grand Prix in spectacular fashion. The night opened for him blasting through HIROYA, taking a hard-fought decision over Masaaki Noiri and then making mince-meat out of Ilias Bulaid's ribs in the second round of the finals with three blistering knee knockdowns.

Bulaid's path to the finals was impressive as well, with him taking out Chris Mauceri with body punches in the quarterfinals and taking a close extra round decision over Yamazaki to make it to the finals. Kaito Ozawa also learned that you just don't mess with Takeru. You just don't. 

Waki def Ueda DEC (UD = Unanimous 30-27 x3)

KJee def Sugimoto DEC (UD 29-28 x3)

Sakiyo def Asahisa ( MD = Majority? 30-29,30-29,29-29)

Reserve bout

Kimura def Noman (UD = 30-26,30-26,30-28)

Quarterfinals

Yamazaki def Renita (UD = 30-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Bulaid def Mauceri (KO body punch , 2 knockdowns in 2nd rnd)

Noiri def Glunder (UD , 30-28,30-26,30-26)

Kaew def Hiroya (KO punches, 2knockdowns , 1st rnd)

Superfight

Uehara def Takahagi (TKO, knee injury,1st rnd)

Qi def Komiyama (MD , 29-27,28-28,29-28)

Semi finals

Bulaid def Yamazaki (SD ,(Extra Rnd 1 split) 10-9,9-10,10-9

Kaew def Noiri (UD , 29-28,29-28,30-29)

Superfights

Kido def Daiki (UD, 30-27x3)

Takeru def Ozawa (UD, 30-28,29-28,30-28)

65kg Final

Kaew def Bulaid (KO 2nd round, Knees to body on all three Knockdowns)

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It's Time for the Smaller Weight Classes to Shine

  • Published in Kickboxing

Kickboxing has long been all about the heavyweight weight classes. If you were to ask anyone about K-1 the first thing that would come to mind would be the K-1 World Grand Prix. Of course, there is a good reason for that. When modern kickboxing in the form of K-1 began in Japan it was to appeal to the local audiences with a blend of Kyokushin, Karate and professional wrestling. The Japanese public was always attracted to the idea of the clash of titans (I mean, really, isn’t everybody?) so K-1 focused heavily on the Heavyweights. 

If you look at GLORY, SuperKombat and even promotions like Enfusion you’ll see that the focus is still largely on the heavier weight classes. No matter what Badr Hari is doing it is news, if Peter Aerts is in a pro wrestling match in Japan everyone cares and people still ask if Sem Schilt will ever return to the ring. Speculation over Alistair Overeem leaving the UFC to return to kickboxing has been healthy for his entire UFC run. Needless to say, the big guys draw eyeballs.

The one real anomaly is the rise of K-1’s MAX division in the 2000’s. It was an idea created to promote the handsome and talented MASATO originally, but the reality was that it created a good number of stars and helped to make something outside of Heavyweight sustainable. We’ve seen the rise of a few stars like Giorgio Petrosyan, Buakaw Banchamek, Andy Ristie, Robin van Roosmalen and many more. It’s Showtime helped to push forward with expanded weight classes and GLORY is continuing along the path with the Light Heavyweight and Middleweight classes a big focus over the last year.

If we look at other sports the focus isn’t always just on huge, lumbering titans, though. While American Football might have a few such characters, a lot of the time the smaller, more agile players end up a focal point. The home run sluggers in baseball might draw eyeballs, but not all baseball players are Mark Mcguire. In football (you know, soccer) it is even more clear that you don’t (and shouldn’t) be a giant to be successful. Look no further than some of the lines at betting at William Hill to see how diverse the playing field can be. 

At GLORY 20 Gabriel Varga and Mosab Amrani will compete for the GLORY Featherweight Championship. It’s a solid first step, although there is confusion as to if this will air on the SuperFight Series or on Spike TV. Last that I’ve heard it was the SuperFight Series. Even so, it will be the headliner for that show that will air on CBS Sports Network and across the globe as its own show. 

Then, of course, is K-1’s 55kg World Grand Prix going down in Japan on April 19th. K-1 Japan has been putting out a steady stream of events featuring smaller weight classes and has been wildly entertaining. As long as the big players in kickboxing keep focusing on smaller weight classes there is still hope that the lighter, more technical and quick weight classes can shine in the near future. 

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K-1 Japan 65kg World Grand Prix

  • Published in K-1

K-1 Japan keeps churning out some of the best kickboxing action in the world with their upcoming K-1 Japan -65kg World Grand Prix, set to happen on June 4th. The best 65kg fighters in the world will be competing in a one-night tournament, including favorites like Kaew, HIROYA, Glunder and Noiri while bringing some new names into the mix like Stanislav Renita, Ilias Bulaid (well, he fought there before, but you know) and Chris Mauceri.

65kg World Tournament

Teruaki Yamazaki VS Stanislav Renita

Ilias Bulaid VS Chris Mauceri

Massaro Glunder VS Masaaki Noiri

Kaew Weerasakreck VS HIROYA

Reserve Fight: Kimura 'Philip' Minoru vs NOMAN

Superfights

Takeru VS Ozawa Kaito

Urabe Hirotaka VS Komiyama Kosuke

Uehara Makoto VS TBA

Kido Yasuhiro VS TBA

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