The K-1 MAX Japan tournament is approaching fast, and while many fans feel as if the announcement of Albert Kraus being involved in the tournament turned it into a foregone conclusion, the truth is in one night tournaments anything can happen. I can't say that I agree with having a european fighter and former World MAX Champion in the tournament, as the MAX Japan tournament has always been one of K-1's more exciting events of the year with some of Japan's most accomplished 70kg fighters vying for a spot in the World MAX tournament.
This year KENTA will be participating in the tournament, KENTA being the man who just won KRUSH's 70kg tournament, and can be considered one of the early favorites within the tournament. If you have yet to see KENTA in action or see the KRUSH tournament, we have you covered. Sit back and watch KENTA's last two fights from the KRUSH tournament and why everyone is excited to see him fight in the MAX Japan tournament.
So we've been doing some serious waiting on GLORY 11's ratings and they are finally in. What the numbers are telling us is that Kickboxing still has to develop an audience here in America, but there was a really solid start to this over the weekend at GLORY 11. In a few places I've gone on record saying that I felt that 200,000 - 400,000 were my expectations and that 500,000 would be a huge win for GLORY. Not everyone agreed with that, but the final numbers are in and they look to be exactly where they should be.
The average rating for GLORY 11 was 381,000 viewers, with the peak being 781,000 viewers. It should be noted that the peak came within the first quarter, which was most likely due to the lead-in from Spike's previous programming, which is Cops. Cops, somehow, draws over 1.5 million viewers in 2013 and it is safe to say that not all of these Cops viewers were Rico Verhoeven fans. Considering that this was GLORY's largest platform within the US to date and the first time that Kickboxing has seen a major audience in this long, consider this a solid first step.
The card featured primarily European fighters (with an Australian) whose prior exposure in the United States was only to the most hardcore of hardcore fans. It is actually admirable that they were able to pull in these kind or ratings with their core product and not by bringing in former UFC fighters to compete.
2010 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.
Final Fight Championship 8 went down over the weekend in Croatia, the promotion of Orsat Zovko. You might remember the name from such Cro Cop-oriented events as Final Fight (which the MMA media thought was his retirement, lolz) as well as this year's K-1 World Grand Prix Finals. Since then they've been going full blast in Croatia, pumping out quality Kickboxing events and drawing solid crowds for them. FFC8 got a little messy, though, as LEGEND 2: Invasion is coming up which forced both Sergei Laschenko and Pavel Zhuravlev to withdraw from this event. Let's be honest here, it is all about money.
Anyway, Thomas Hron stepped in at last minute and put on the performance of the show, which is admirable. Here are the results from Fight Channel.
Man, there really has been a lot going on over the last few days and SuperKombat has been keeping rather busy as well. Over the weekend they held their New Heroes 6 event in Italy and this coming weekend plays host to bigger and better things by the way of their SuperKombat WGP Final Elimination event. So without further ado, here is the card for this weekend's event, which will be aired on Epicentre.tv for $9.95 starting at 3PM Eastern.
1. SUPERKOMBAT® New Heroes Middleweight Title Eliminator – Middleweight Bout (-71.00kg)
Amansio Paraschiv (Romania) vs. Mohamed Ben Ali (Morocco)
2. Final Elimination / Spot 1 – Heavyweight Bout (+96.00kg)
Mathieu Kongolo (Belgium) vs. Giannis Stoforidis (Greece)
3. Final Elimination / Spot 2 – Heavyweight Bout (+96.00kg)
Muamer Tufekcic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) vs. Frank Munoz (Spain)
4. Final Elimination / Spot 3 – Heavyweight Bout (+96.00kg)
Jegish Yegoian (Armenia) vs. Redouan Cairo (Suriname)
5. Final Elimination / Spot 4 – Heavyweight Bout (+96.00kg)
D’Angelo Marshall (Suriname) vs. Pacome Assi (Cote D’Ivoire)
6. SUPERKOMBAT® Super Cruiserweight Title Eliminator / Spot 2 – Super Cruiserweight Bout (-95.00kg)
Massinissa Hamaili (France) vs. Ondrej Hutnik (Czech Republic)
7. SUPERKOMBAT® Cruiserweight Title Eliminator – Cruiserweight Bout (-92.00kg)
Igor Bugaenko (Belarus) vs. Jorge Loren (Spain)
8. Super Fight – Heavyweight Bout (+96.00kg)
Ricardo Van Den Bos (Netherlands) vs. Raul Catinas (Romania)
9. Super Fight – Heavyweight Bout (+96.00kg)
Daniel Lentie (Cameroon) vs. Catalin Morosanu (Romania)
Now here are the results from this weekend's New Heroes 6 event in Italy.
Chalk this one up to an unfortunate circumstance of the GLORY buyout of It's Showtime, as there are still a few It's Showtime events scheduled for this year and it looks like the first victim will be the It's Showtime event in Yokohama. To understand what kind of a blow this is, It's Showtime has been working with local promoters in Japan for well over a year now promoting "Countdown to It's Showtime" events, which were all supposed to lead to It's Showtime's big Japan debut. This was to take place in September, but it looks like it might not happen in September, or even at all. Statement from Simon Rutz and It's Showtime Japan's President Fujiawara below.
"As a result of the acquisition of IT'S SHOWTIME by GLORY Sports International and all necessary internal adjustments associated with this acquisition, we’ve both, GLORY Sports International and Showtime Japan concluded that the necessary period for the preparation is too short to ensure the desired quality for our show, which was scheduled for September 17, 2012, in the Pacifico National Convention Hall in Yokohama, Japan.
For this reason we decided to postpone this event until further notice.
On Friday, February 27th Glory returned to Chicago and headlining the event was the third installment of the epic battle between Simon Marcus and Artem Levin. Glory 27 did not disappoint from the first bout to the last, fighters electrified the crowd with stunning knockouts and hard fought battles. The main event was not without drama. The night ended with reigning champion Artem Levin being disqualified after he failed to continue fighting. In a statement he later released to the public, Levin apologized to his fans for letting them down, however, he revealed that he felt self respect was far more important than winning or losing. In a follow-up conversation with Levin, he expressed his view point and gave an idea of what is to come.
Levin: The refereeing was strange from the very beginning. There were thoughts after the fight, perhaps, I overreacted and ended the fight early, but after another time I’ve watched the fight, I realized that I was right about everything. The referee was charged-up from the start, beginning with the fictitious knockdown. They’ve taken way the belt for the second time using this referee. The 4-man tournament in Los Angeles in 2013 involved the referee beginning the count after a punch to shoulder in the extra round. Also during this event the referee began the count in the first round and took points from me in the next rounds due to mutual clinching. This referee has done the same thing each time refereeing my fights. I decided in the third round to exit and to stop the absurdness and nonsense. Some say, that I should have continued and fight until the final bell, but the referee would have taken a point another time and I’d be disqualified by him. So I thought I should make a decision. I rely on me only, I decide my fate myself, thus I made the decision! Numerous Americans, Canadians, and websites around the world supported me. I am sure that I’ve done the right thing!
As far as his immediate plans, Levin continued: I’ve got many suggestions, but I’ve signed with GLORY at the current time. The future is interesting, time will show whether I will be perfoming. I’d like to leave it without comment. I will say that one of my main aim is to perform in Russia I've been fighting abroad through all my career in foreign promotions, with foreign supporters, with foreign referees. Now I’d like to fight for my native fans in my country with the best opponents!
As I footnote to Levin's comments, I asked Glory CEO, Jon Franklin to give some of his feedback on the incident.
Jon Franklin: ISKA held a special session during the rules meeting to triple check that the athletes understood clinching and holding rules. The rules are available to the athletes and it is the responsibility of the athletes to know and understand all rules of competition. If an athlete has a question about the referee or judging, there is a proper procedure in place for review after the bouts. One of the rules is that refusing to fight will result in a disqualification. That is what happened.
It remains to be seen whether Levin will in some way attempt to appeal the disqualification on some ground or if he will just prepare himself for Levin-Marcus IV.
With Dynamite!! 2010 just a few weeks away, FEG has slowly been trickling out news for the fans and media. As always, things are handled in a hush-hush manner by FEG, but fight camps sometimes spill the goods before they do. FEG held a press conference on Friday to announce a few of the feature bouts for the upcoming card.
After featuring only one kickboxing bout last year (Masato vs. Andy Souwer), they have added a second K-1 rules bout to the card, in the form of K-1 Heavyweight Champion Kyotaro facing off with Gegard Mousasi. Mousasi has not fought in a kickboxing fight since December 2008 at Dynamite!! 2008 where he made short work of the now retired Musashi. Mousasi is the current DREAM Light Heavyweight Champion and has held the promotion's Middleweight Championship as well as Strikeforce's Light Heavyweight Championship. Kyotaro poses a unique challenge for the Dutch kickboxer, as Kyotaro has speed, power and precision on his side.
The colorful Kazuhisa Watanabe will return to MMA action squaring off against Hideo Tokoro, with both men looking to add another much-needed win on their records. Another fight that was long-rumored is now confirmed, as Jason "KC Bandit" High returns to DREAM for the first time since DREAM.10 to face off with Hayato "Mach" Sakurai. Sakurai's back is against the wall against the younger High and High is looking to work his way back into the major leagues after a disappointing UFC debut this year.
Everyone's favorite Super HULK Champion, Ikuhisa Minowa, known as Minowaman, makes his return to the DREAM ring for the first time since his loss to Olympic Judoka Satoshi Ishii at DREAM.16. Minowa's last fight at DEEP 50 saw him get back into the win column with an armbar on Chang Hee Kim, providin some momentum against another Olympic Judoka, Hiroshi Izumi. Izumi is a Olympic Silver medalist from Athens in 2004 and fights for the first time away from the SRC banner.
There really hasn't been much hype around the upcoming K-1 show, which features the -63kg MAX Japan tournament Finals for this year. The rest of the tournament played out in KRUSH earlier this year, with a lot of solid talent involved in the tournament. Sadly, K-1 is in a dark place right now and many have simply stopped treating K-1 in the same regards. But regardless of this, at the end of this month K-1 puts on a show involving Japan's best at 63kg and one of them is Koya Urabe. Watch Urabe's open workout video for the upcoming show here.