Gokhan Saki is a guy that fans of Kickboxing have been high on for quite a while now, as he might be a bit undersized for the Heavyweight division but that has never stopped him from being one of the best in the world. Saki has carved out a space in the world for himself over the past few years with big wins over Tyrone Spong, Daniel Ghita and Anderson "Braddock" Silva. He also has shown a ton of heart in big fights against top names like Badr Hari and Semmy Schilt, which gave him a place in the hearts of fans across the world.
Apparently, Nike has been listening, at least Nike in Turkey, that is. Fans in Turkey are very proud of Gokhan Saki -- and they have every right to be -- and he has become a national hero accordingly. So it comes as no real surprise that Saki has been included in this Nike ad that is currently airing in Turkey that features some of the best Turkish athletes that are known the whole world over. Saki takes place in the GLORY 11 Chicago Heavyweight tournament this October, airing live on Spike TV.
In perhaps one of the more interesting developments for GLORY of late, Badr Hari will be in attendance at GLORY 31, as will Rico Verhoeven. Verhoeven will be there for Spike TV Netherlands, being an on-air personality for Spike TV in the Netherlands. Rumor has it that he'll be attempting to interview Badr Hari live on air as well, which would be immensely interesting.
This would serve as a great opportunity to announce Badr Hari vs. Rico Verhoeven, live from the Netherlands, but don't get your hopes up just yet. Until we've heard that the fight is official a ton of stuff could happen in the meantime.
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.
Today we are going back to when Badr Hari was a scrawny 18 year old still training with Thom Harinck, and Alexey Ignashov was a nightmare opponent for any heavyweight fighter. This was a big step up in competition for Badr considering he hadn't really fought any big names yet, he took the fight on only a few days notice and Ignashov had already fought and beat pretty much everyone including Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky, and Daniel Ghita. This fight took place on It's Showtime 2003 Amsterdamn in front of Badr's home crowd, and to be honest for an 18 year old fighting a much bigger, more experienced and better opponent he was doing okay, until 2:55 seconds into the 3rd round when Iggy drove a straight right into Hari's sternum which he couldn't recover from. After the fight was called off Ignashov rushes over and helps Badr up, rubs his chest for him and shows him how to get his breath back, Iggy is always such a class act. Badr Hari avenged this loss twice later in his career once in Yokohama, Japan in 2010, and once in Moscow, Russia in 2013, but he was still never able to finish Ignashov even when Iggy was well past his prime.
Ah summer, with love in the air and celebrity gossip magazines there to take candid shots of them and repost them with scandalous headlines. That is your life if you are Kickboxing superstar Badr Hari and you find yourself involved with Dutch soccer legend Ruud Gullit's wife, Estelle Gullit, going as far as said wife leaving her superstar husband and taking up a serious relationship with you. This photo is courtesy of Marloes Coenen's twitter. As we wait to find out if Badr will be fighting for Glory or not, we are instead treated to photographs of him enjoying his life. Good for him.
Apparently a picture can tell a thousand words, which would be the case of this photo of Badr Hari training with Alistair Overeem. Sure, there are photos of them sparring each other in Russia, but what's interesting are the few shots of them grappling together. Badr Hari had sworn that he'd never train with Alistair Overeem while Overeem was with Mike Passenier, then he also had said some disparaging things about MMA in the past. This just proves that Badr Hari is kind of a big softie in the end, which we all knew anyway.
Sometimes with Kickboxing timing is everything, and right now it is very clear to see why GLORY would feel it an inopportune time for one of their Heavyweight stars, Semmy Schilt, to no longer be an active fighter. While Semmy might not be the most fan-favorite fighter in the world, he is seen as one of the best Heavyweight Kickboxers of all time, with the credentials to match.
Yesterday we discussed the very real rumor of Semmy Schilt being retired, as we heard from sources very close to Schilt that he was having health issues and decided to no longer fight. This did not come as a surprise to us in the least, as Schilt had already been talking about no longer participating in tournaments and there was talk of him maybe fighting once or twice more before calling an end to his career.
GLORY's CEO discussed a few things with MMAMania's Brian Hemminger, one of the questions was about Schilt's retirement, to which he had this to say;
"As far as I know, he's on our active roster and that is certainly the case until he tells us. As far as we know, which is pretty close to the source, he hasn't announced anything at all that would prompt us to pick up the phone and give him a ring. As far as we can see, the press on the story has no primary sources whatsoever so until we hear it from Semmy, we're really excited to have him as a champion with us every since he came on board and signed with us."
While we respect Mr. Whittaker and his position, there were indeed primary, reliable sources on this. We've discussed the issue more with our sources, who've yet to actually be wrong in many years, and it was revealed that Schilt is indeed healthy now, but has still decided not to continue his fighting career. A statement from him has been expected, but possibly due to the Spike TV deal it will be delayed.
It is just a week away until Tyrone Spong will step into the ring at It's Showtime 58 against the legend Peter Aerts. The bout is slated to be Mr. K-1's retirement in the Benelux region of Europe, originally his full retirement, before Glory stepped in with an offer that he couldn't refuse. As we are all very aware of, Spong is training in Florida alongside the Blackzilian camp, which includes UFC Heavyweight contender and former K-1 World Grand Prix champion Alistair Overeem. This means that Spong and Overeem train together, and for Spong, who better to train with than the man that narrowly defeated him in K-1? The team behind the Reem was there to photograph their training and share it with the world.
A part of me is beginning to feel like Badr Hari's personal life is like a bad episode of "As the World Turns" sometimes. Every day there are more and more complications for Badr, more news coming out about his alleged assaults or affairs and to say that his personal life is personal would be a stretch. The latest in the case of the beaten Dutch millionaire at the giant dance party is that Badr is turning the tables on the legal system.
Badr's lawyer has apparently lodged a complaint with the courts that he feels there is an open line of communication between the team handling Badr's case within the police department and Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf (The Guardian). He claims that the news outlet has too much inside information, that it clearly must be coming from the police and that it is illegal.
We draw nearer and nearer to May 14th's It's Showtime Lyon event, featuring Badr Hari's return bout. The question that we've been slowly answering over the past few weeks is why exactly should we be excited about the return of Badr Hari and where did he go?
Badr Hari had a disappointing 2008, and 2009 was primed to be the year that he finally won a K-1 World Grand Prix title, and as we looked at in our last installment, he made it to the finals again only to be stopped in short order by Semmy Schilt, the now four-time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion. For Badr Hari, this was crushing, as he had worked all year at being "good" and focusing on fighting, finishing out the year at 5 - 1.
The question for 2010 was; now what? Badr Hari had shown self control, skill and power throughout 2010, but it still wasn't enough to get two wins over Semmy Schilt. He came so very, very close to being on top of the kickboxing world, but at the last minute choked. So now it looked like for Badr Hari he must go through another year's worth of trials to give it another shot. His year started off with a bout against solid up-and-comer Mourad Bouzidi for It's Showtime in Prague, Badr was looking for blood.
Bouzidi was able to hold on for the bell in the first round, but was clearly wobbled and ready to go down like a sack of bricks before the ref stepped in. The last combination of a left hook to the jaw and a right to the body was just missing the right hook follow up to put him down on the canvas. The second round starts with an all-out assault on Bouzidi, where a left finally puts him down. Bouzidi gets up only to get put back down a mere minute later by a barrage of lefts and rights. Bouzidi somehow staggers to his feet again to come back for more. Badr finally composes himself a bit and starts throwing more calculated shots until with 10 seconds left in the round he slips in a right uppercut that sends Bouzidi down for good.
What should be noted is the calm, controlled agression of Badr Hari that we saw in 2010 was gone, this Badr Hari was throwing wild flurries again and was being super agressive, caution-to-the-wind style.
What happens next led to his one year layoff, which we'll touch upon tomorrow.
Melvin "No Mercy" Manhoef will make his way back into the ring on November 8th in Russia for LEGEND Fight Show, as on their second event he'll participate in a -93kg tournament. Our friend Adenane from Staredown.nl caught up with Manhoef to get his thoughts on the upcoming fights. Interestingly enough, Manhoef has not stepped into a Kickboxing ring since January of 2012, as he's mainly been fighting MMA fights in the meantime.
It will be a welcome return to Kickboxing for Manhoef, known as one of the hardest punchers around and an absolute knockout artist within both the sports of Kickboxing and MMA. Here is a look at the tournament lineup for November 8th.
Kickboxing Tournament -93 kg
Zabit "Mowgli" Samedov vs. Melvin "No Mercy" Manhoef
Kickboxing Tournament -93 kg
Sahak "Hak" Parparyan vs. Pavel "Caiman" Zhuravlev