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More Alistair Overeem Rumors: Todd Duffee

If you haven't had enough Alistair Overeem rumors, prepare for a new one. Remember the opponent of the week last week? Last week, Bobby Lashley was all-but-confirmed according to multiple websites, with a Strikeforce employee tweeting that Lashley was going to be the man to step up and fight Alistair Overeem. The way that FEG has handled Alistair Overeem is really no different than the way that they handle any other fighter, the main difference is that Overeem holds a championship in a United States promotion, Strikeforce.

This immediately means that any Overeem news garners attention from the media and blogs in the US and the speculation goes through the roof. In a way, it is a severe shortcoming on the part of FEG. FEG has finally found a star that could help them truly break through to a United States audience, but they are treating him like business-as-usual.

Last night, Todd Duffee posted on his Facebook page that you can watch him vs. "Overeem" on HDnet on New Year's Eve. So now there is a post on Sherdog that the fight is "50-50." At this point, Duffee has signed his cotract and the money has been hammered out between his camp and FEG, he simply needs to attain a short-term visa and everything is a go, right?

I feel like a grandfather trying to talk to his teenage grandson about the time he got the clap in Korea while all the kid can think about is getting laid. Everyone is so excited for the prospect of Overeem finally having a fight that they are missing the fact that this feels familiar. Last week Dave Meltzer, the most reliable reporter in the business (I know, Helwani does cool backstage videos, I know) said he was certain of the Lashley fight happening. Last year Andrei Arlovski's camp applied for a temporary work visa and had signed a contract, too.

No matter who the source, how certain they are, until the ink is completely dry and FEG announces it, Overeem does not have an opponent.

UPDATE: According to sources close to the situation, Todd Duffee has agreed to be paid $60,000 to fight Overeem and has not been training for a fight at all, this was completely last minute. Official announcement expected the 27th.


Michael Schiavello Discusses the Ten Best Kicks

Our good friend and combat sports veteran announcer Michael Schiavello also happens to be one of the better combat sports writers out there when he wants to be, which should make a lot of people take notice. Schiavello does this in his free time, in between jetsetting all over the world and calling nearly every awesome combat sports show not under the Zuffa banner in the world. What I am saying is, take note, MMA writers.

Schiavello take a look at ten of the best kicks outside of MMA, which he rightfully so, has labeled the "Showtime Kick" by Anthony Pettis at WEC's finale event as the best MMA kick. He runs the gambit, from Muay Thai strikers like Enriko Kehl and Saenchai to kickboxing legends like Andy Hug and Remy Bonjasky, Schiavello covers it all.

One of my favorites that he covers is Andy Hug's Tornado kick to the leg of Mike Bernardo in 1996.

What makes Hug’s variation so special is that he threw the kick to Bernardo’s thigh, rather than delivering, as is usual, to the opponent’s midsection. No sooner had the kick been thrown did it become an international sensation and everyone in the world began attempting spinning back kicks to the thigh (just as we’ll no doubt see many Pettis “Showtime Kick” clones).  To this day, however, in my many years of watching and commentating combat sports, I have never seen another fighter execute a spinning back kick to the thigh for a knockout. Take into consideration that Hug performed this technique against the more highly-fancied Bernardo in the final of the biggest martial arts competition on Earth and you can appreciate the complete spectacle of this technique.


A Look at Mousasi v. Kyotaro

Kyotaro at the Dynamite Press ConferenceIn the recent batch of Dynamite!! 2010 fight announcements was a fight worth a closer look.  Under K-1 rules, it will be K-1 Heavyweight champion Kyotaro v. Dream LHW champion Gegard Mousasi.  This is one of only two kickboxing fights currently scheduled for Dynamite!!, and although Mousasi is primarily an MMA fighter, this is a very intriguing fight.

The backstory of this fight largely stems from Dynamite!! 2008.  There, Mousasi made his K-1 debut, easily dispatching Japanese veteran Musashi in under one round (check out today's daily fight or click here to watch).  Since then, Musashi has retired, and Kyotaro has picked up the mantle of Japan's top heavyweight, winning the K-1 heavyweight title, and scoring upsets over opponents like Gokhan Saki, Peter Aerts, and Jerome Le Banner.  Given Japan's national pride, the story here is clear - Kyotaro wants to avenge the honor of Musashi and K-1.  As the champion himself stated: "I saw Mousasi KO Musashi 2 years ago and now I want to prove that K-1 fighters are stronger... I want to win back our prestige."  That story alone gives this fight a nice edge.

In ring, the fight should deliver as well.  Mousasi is a very strong all around fighter who can not be discounted here.  Kyotaro is more experienced, but far from invincible, and if Mousasi fights a smart game, he could bring his K-1 record up to 2-0.  Kyotaro will no doubt be looking to pull Mousasi into his game and get the Dream fighter moving forward and attacking.  From there, Mousasi could be exposed to Kyotaro's beautiful counter-punching attack.  That ability to counter-punch has been the demise of fighters with considerably more stand-up experience than Mousasi, and Gegard will need to be well prepared to avoid the same fate.  I think those skills will guide Kyotaro to victory again here, but I certainly don't think it's a lock.

The Dynamite card is now shaping up nicely with 11 confirmed fights and 1 confirmed by everyone but K-1.  Here's the line-up:


DREAM Rules:

Andy Ologun v. Furuki Katsuaki

Hideo Tokoro v. Kazuhisa Watanabe

Hayato Mach Sakurai v. Jason High

Kazushi Sakuraba v. Marius Zaromskis

Jerome Le Banner v. Satoshi Ishii

Josh Thomson v. Tatsuya Kawajiri

MINOWAMAN v. Hiroshi Izumi

Kazuyuki Miyata v. Caol Uno

Bibiano Fernandes v. Hiroyuki Takaya


K-1 Rules:

Tetsuya Yamato v. Akiyo "Wicky" Nishiura

Kyotaro v. Gegard Mousasi


Mixed DREAM/K-1 Rules:

Shinya Aoki v. Yuichiro Nagashima


Errol Zimmerman: Wasted Potential

In the wake of last weekend's GP, most discussion focused on the big wins by Peter Aerts and Alistair Overeem.  But one fighter who drew my attention for very different reasons was Errol Zimmerman.  Competing in the reserve fight against Ewerton Teixeira, Zimmerman was defeated soundly in a fight that may cause you to rethink his current K-1 standing.  Why?  Let's take a look.

To start, let's roll back to 2008.  This was the year Zimmerman made a splash in K-1, winning the World GP Amsterdam title.  That night, the Golden Glory fighter turned heads with wins over Atila Karacs, Bjorn Bregy, and Zabit Samedov.  Immediately, people were interested in the Bonecrusher, and he only increased that interest and hype with his dominant Final 16 victory over Glaube Feitosa.  From there, Zimmerman took out Teixeira in the GP quarter-finals, making it to the final 4 where he was defeated by Badr Hari in one of the best fights of 2008.  As the year ended, Zimmerman was on a roll, coming from semi-obscurity to being a top 5 fighter in just a few months.

As 2009 started, Zimmerman hit a bit of a bump in the road.  He followed up the Hari loss with an ill-advised MMA fight against Minowaman at Dynamite!! before suffering back to back loses to Peter Aerts and Mourad Bouzidi.  Those loses were somewhat troubling, but Aerts is always dangerous, and the Bouzidi loss came from a freak cut, so there wasn't a huge cause for concern.  Yet.

That changed last weekend.  In his reserve fight with Teixeira, Zimmerman did not just lose, he lost decisively.  Worse, he looked, in a word, bad.  Kogan and The Voice called him "bloated," which was an apt description.  After a year plagued by rumors of lackluster training habits, Zimmerman looked out of shape, unprepared, and simply out of his element.  It was the kind of performance that brings his entire recent career into stark perspective.  And when you look back at recent years, you see a disturbing trend in Zimmerman's performances, and that trend points decidedly down.

Since that career-defining 2008, Zimmerman has gone an unimpressive 3-6.  But it wasn't until recently that his loses started to look bad.  In addition to the Teixeira fight, Zimmerman looked completely over matched when knocked out by Daniel Ghita, and was made to look somewhat foolish by Semmy Schilt earlier this year.  However, it's not the losses that really show Zimmerman's troubles - it's the wins.  Of those 3 wins, only 1 was a stoppage.  That fight, a 24 second KO of Catalin Morosanu, was so brief that it said almost nothing about where Zimmerman stood (though it did speak volumes about Morosanu).  The other 2 wins were an extra round decision over the unranked Wendell Roche, and a close majority decision over Glaube Feitosa in the 2009 Final 16.  The Feitosa fight in particular stands out, as the Brazilian had only fought once since being dismantled by Zimmerman a year earlier, and was on the verge of retirement.  This had all the ingredients to be a Gerges/Fujimoto style win for Zimmerman, but instead Errol struggled, barely sneaking by the man he had so easily handled not long ago.  Against both Feitosa and Teixeira, we saw Zimmerman losing ground against fighters he handled not long ago.  Instead of hitting the upper ranks and continuing his rise, Zimmerman has fallen fast.

Sadly, this kind of story is all too common in sports.  It takes great dedication to make it to the upper reaches of any professional sport, and once you make it there, it takes even more dedication to maintain your spot against an increasingly tough level of competition.  But at the same time that these athletes must step up their game, they are also faced with increased fame and popularity and all the distractions that accompany them.  There is a great temptation to coast on your talent instead of pushing harder, and right now it seems like Zimmerman is indeed coasting.

For a prime example of where this can lead, Errol need look no further than another fighter in action last weekend.  Alexey Ignashov was once poised to be the next big name in K-1 and kickboxing.  But at his height, temptation took over, and Ignashov's career plummeted.  Just hours after Zimmerman's loss, Ignashov too was defeated, bringing an uninspired ending to the Red Scorpion's 2010 - the year that was suppossed to be Iggy's glorious comeback, but could end up as his swan song.

For Zimmerman, the end of 2010 is a clear crossroad.  If he continues as he has been, he will be another in a long line of underachievers who did not quite hit the levels their earlier careers forecast.  But if he makes changes, the man who rolled through the 2008 Europe GP, who pummeled Glaube Feitosa, who gave Badr Hari all he could handle - that man has the skills to be a future champion.  The choice is his.


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