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The Wonderful World of Kickboxing

  • Published in News

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As those of us who’ve been around for a while might say, when it comes to the sport of kickboxing, no news is typically bad news. We’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about Glory in the past few months--from murky accounts of an organization on dire straits to assurances by some of our professional kickboxing journalist pals that they have the exclusive scoop on BIG NEWS which has simply been embargoed by Glory for the time being. The fact remains that we haven’t heard anything substantive from Glory since July. There was talk of more SpikeTV content and of an event to be held at the end of October--we’re still waiting for any of these things to materialize. This behavior is worrisome for those of us who followed the scene as recently as 2012, when K-1 made promise after promise of a big comeback that ultimately never took place. It would be sad to see Glory succumb to the same fate as its ambitious predecessors, with K-1 and It’s Showtime telling the tale of how unforgiving the fight business can be.

Kickboxing in particular is a very strange industry, one that appears very active at a glance but which tells a far more sobering story beneath the surface. If we judged the scene solely on the number of events held annually, we might think that things look pretty good, with organizations like LEGEND, Global FC, Top King, A-1, and SuperKombat making news on sites like this one with fight cards featuring big name talent. While the accessibility of this content is highly variable, from robust TV broadcasts to mislabeled camera phone footage posted on YouTube, there are nevertheless fights happening all over the world and subsequently news and results which we can report to you.

But the difference between offering you a survey of sundry action from around the globe and a developing narrative that you can follow and become engrossed in is the difference between Kickboxing as a mere curiosity and as a sport in its own right. There are plenty of Kickboxing and Muay Thai videos that show up on MMA sites, but as much as their readers might appreciate them, they will never get the same first person experience of being there when iconic and spectacular moments unfold--memories of being glued to your TV when Andy Hug landed that spinning back kick or when Joe Schilling knocked Simon Marcus out cold. These moments were real, and they made us believe in this sport and dream about the possibilities. Call it a pet peeve, but I find it a little heartbreaking when brilliant retrospectives of great kickboxing moments wind up on MMA sites under “look at what this might teach us about MMA technique!” headings.

No one in particular is to blame for how things have turned out for kickboxing. Ultimately the success of any venture depends on the convergence of talent, a solid product, proper promotion, and a receptive market at an opportune moment in time. Kickboxing had various combinations of these things at different points in time, but the times and circumstances changed. The downfall of K-1 had as much to do with its management as it did with evolving trends in the Japanese entertainment market. Many factors came into play, but unfortunately, things ended for K-1 in an ugly way, leaving fighters with substantial outstanding earnings which they may never be able to fully collect. However, let us not kid ourselves about what it takes to build a real professional sport league. We’ve seen plenty of flamboyant millionaire playboys from around the world blow their money to party with celebrities and to book their favorite kickboxers for an evening of entertainment. Some of these mysterious rich dudes will even slap a label on their “organization” and take lots of photos with kickboxing bigwigs to make things look legit, but we all know that trying to produce a sustainable sports entertainment venue for the masses takes a lot more vision and tenacity than that. No matter how flashy their shows get, the playboys are not going to save Kickboxing, and neither will the small promotions like Top King (although we’ll give it a chance, just like we always do--that’s the story of Kickboxing, right?) that seem to come and go every year.

We really hope that Glory will actually make it. It seems like the formula’s been there--Glory had enough money, the right talent, the right TV deal, and an ostensible understanding of the business startup process (God knows there are enough smart-sounding former hedge fund/venture capital people on board--how many of them does it take to screw in a light bulb?). Where do things stand now? We really don’t know. We do know that there have been no shows in three months, and if it is indeed true that Glory is coming to Oklahoma on November 7, then that will make four months since its last show. We really hope that the lights will stay on at Glory because as kickboxing fans, we’ve looked forward for a long time to not living in the dark of the sports world. 

 

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VIDEO: Buakaw vs. Yi Long From WLF

  • Published in Video

This weekend WLF ran what they had been billing as the fight of the century. No, not Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather (although they did promote it as on part with that), but instead Buakaw Banchamek vs. Yi Long. It was muay thai legend vs. kung fu legend and of course, only in China. China has seen a steady rise in interest in kickboxing over the past few years, helped in part by Wu Lin Feng, K-1 and Kunlun airing on national television there. 

So this fight happened and I dunno, take from it what you will.

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K-1 Announces World MAX Final Card for Oct. 11th in Pattaya

  • Published in K-1

On October 11th in Pattaya, Thailand, K-1 will present their K-1 World MAX Finals event. The event will crown a K-1 World MAX Champion, who will serve as K-1's king of the 70kg division and defend the title in the coming years. The tournament began last year with a strong group of sixteen fighters from across the world before coming down to two-time K-1 World MAX Champion Buakaw Banchamek and German up-and-comer Enriko Kehl. Kehl will be facing Buakaw for a second time now, the first fight happening in December and Banchamek getting the better of him in Thai rules. 

The show also features the debut of Paul "Semtex" Daley, best known for his runs in UFC and Bellator, but who has made a huge impact on the kickboxing world this year with four huge KO wins over top competition. This is one of the better K-1 cards that we've seen in a while and should be pretty exciting.

K-1 World MAX Final: Buakaw Banchamek vs. Enriko Kehl
Paul “Semtex” Daley vs. Mohammad Ghaedibardeh
Rungravee Sasiprapa vs. Dennis Puric
Andrei Kubelin vs. Lee Sung Hyun
Maximo Suarez vs. Tural Bayramov
Andre “Dida” Amade vs. Li Yankun
Artem Pashporin vs. Petmongkol Thor. Thesputin
Xei Lei vs. Yoshimoto

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Kunlun Fight 53 Stream and Live Results

  • Published in Asia

Kunlun FIght 53

Kunlun Fight 53 is happening today at the brand new Kunlun World Combat Sports Center in Beijing and we have you covered for streams and results. On the card Buakaw vs Dylan Salvador for Kunlun Fight Muay Thai title, two 70kg tournament quarterfinal bouts with Sitthichai and Superbon duking it out again, Albert Kraus and a lot more. Join us live on twitter @Liverkickdotcom and @KiksieDB.

Free Stream

Live Results

75kg
Zhang Yang (China) def. Perviz Abdullayev (Azerbaijan) by Decision

MMA - 70kg
Wu Haotian (China) def. Jose Ruelas (Mexico) by Submission in Round 1

75kg
Nurla Mulali (China) def. Thongchai Sitsongpeenong (Thailand) by Decision

70kg
Khayal Dzhaniev (Russia) def. Kong Linfeng (China) by Decision

73kg
Albert Kraus (Netherlands) def. Ma Shuo (China) by KO in Round 3

75kg
Bradley Riddell (Australia) def. Zheng Zhaoyu (China) by Decision After an Extra Round

Tournament Quarterfinal A - 70kg
Jomthong Chuwattana (Thailand) def. Tian Xin (China) by Decision

Tournament Quarterfinal B - 70kg
Superbon Banchamek (Thailand) def. Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong (Thailand) by Unanimous Decision

MMA Title Fight - 53kg
Zhang Weili (China) def. Maira De Souza (Brazil) by Submission in Round 1

MMA Title Fight - 75kg
Zhang Lipeng (China) def. Adam Boussif (UK) by Submission in Round 2

Muay Thai Title Fight - 70kg
Buakaw Banchamek (Thailand) def. Dylan Salvador (France) by Decision

 

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Buakaw Banchamek Vs Abdoul Touré Video

  • Published in Asia

Here is the video from Buakaw's fight (if you can call it that) against Abdoul Touré from August 15th in Chiang Rai, Thailand for a WBC Muay Thai Diamond Championship. This is the second time these two have fought, the first time it wasn't a fairly matched fight and Buakaw won by KO with a body kick. Surprise surprise this fight was not much different and consisted of Buakaw repeatedly knocking down his french opponent with head kicks and elbows until the referee eventually stopped it. There is no doubt Buakaw looks like a beast as usual, but I was asking myself if this was even a fight, or was it fake. I really would like to see Buakaw against some opponents his level, as much as I enjoy a good Buakaw domination this was just too unfair for me, not to mention he didn't even look like he was trying. 

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MAX Muay Thai Announces August 10th Event Headlined by Buakaw

  • Published in Muay Thai

MAX

Consider this some of the most exciting news that we all saw from a mile away to happen in quite a while. After the recent movement in Buakaw's legal status and camp and MAX posting about the "best is back" on their Facebook page it was very clear what was going down. It is now, apparently, official according to their Facebook page.

On August 10th MAX Muay Thai will originate from Zhengzhou, China and feature a four-man tournament. The four men in the 68kg tournament are Liam Harrison, Sagetdao Petchphayathai, Zhang De Zeng and Martin Ahktar. Those four make for a pretty interesting tournament, although you could argue that Segetdao and Harrison are the clear favorites to meet in the Finals, but that's OK with us.

They also have confirmed that Buakaw Banchamek will be making his official return to the ring, meaning actually fighting and not involved in an exhibition, at this event. His opponent has yet to be named and on a month's notice I do not suspect that it will be a huge fight like everyone wants, but be patient.

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Video: Buakaw Banchamek vs Yan Bin

  • Published in Video

Buakaw Banchamek successfully defended his WMC world title last night against a surprisingly tough Yan Bin from China. I figured this would be just like most recent Buakaw fights where he just makes a fool of his opponents but Yan Bin did not come to lose. He landed some shots that surprised Buakaw and even swept him which I don't think I've seen for years. To be fair though Yan Bin has a very erratic style which I'd imagine would give anyone problems, not to mention he got kicked in the head multiple times which seemed to have no effect. 

Here is the video, let us know what you think, enjoy.

 

  

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Buakaw Banchamek Cleared to Fight on April 17th

  • Published in Muay Thai

Buakaw

The artist formerly known as Buakaw Por Pramuk, now known as Buakaw Banchamek but is really Sombat Banchamek has been cleared for his upcoming fight on April 17th at Thai Fight in Pattaya, Thailand. At a press conference yesterday in Thailand confirmed that he would indeed participate in Thai Fight in Pattaya, that he would be doing so as Buakaw Banchamek. There was also talk of him possibly fighting under his real name of Sombat Banchamek in the future, but for now he will keep the name "Buakaw" to help promote his upcoming fight.

Buakaw confirmed that he will be staying in Surin, Thailand with his family and that he is content for the time being. For a fighter of his international profile and talent, this is important and one of the best case scenario endings for this whole ordeal. [source]

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Your Daily Buakaw Update: Facing Dong Wenfei at MAX 3

  • Published in Muay Thai

BuakawIt's kind of funny how a fighter like Buakaw can not be in the news for months and months and then he'll be practically unavoidable. For right now Buakaw's relationship with MAX Muay Thai seems to be benefiting him as they are keeping his name out there, now that he can actually fight for them and not just participate in exhibition bouts. This is probably a pretty good thing, right? Especially at this stage in Buakaw's career.

Buakaw Has an Opponent at MAX Muay Thai 3

Yes, we knew that Buakaw would be fighting at MAX Muay Thai 3 in China on August 10th, but we weren't sure who it would be against. Now, thanks to a Facebook update from MAX, we know that he'll be fighting against Chinese fighter Dong Wenfei. Wenfei is a Sanda fighter who mainly fights in Kickboxing rules, but Buakaw is not a stranger to those rules, either. One of Weifei's biggest fights was a loss against Vuyisile Colossa, who is probably best known for fighting for ONE FC now. He's also fought Albert Kraus, Big Ben, Aikipracha and more, although he hasn't beaten any of those bigger names.

This will be a good tune-up fight for Buakaw, at least. MAX also announced some other fights for the card, including Aikpracha vs. Jordan Watson and Khem vs. Maiki Karatanasis.

New Buakaw Documentary

Because you can't get enough Buakaw, there is a new documentary that has been released on him that has been out for about a month now called Boxer, Legend, Legacy. It can be rented on Vimeo for $7.

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K-1's Ned Kuruc Talks Amateur Open and K-1 World MAX Finals

  • Published in Interviews

Since the formation of K-1 Global there have been some ups and downs for the K-1 name, but we’ve definitely all come to a consensus that under K-1’s current management they want the best for the brand and for the sport. K-1 is set to continue pushing forward over the next few month with a few events that will look to solidify the brand’s place in the current market for kickboxing. The first is in September in the UK, being touted as an open amateur scouting event. We’ve spoken with Ned Kuruc of K-1 a few times before and he’s spoken about how important they feel that an amateur system is for the future of the sport and this Amateur Open is just further proof of that. The second event is, of course, the K-1 World MAX Finals, where Buakaw Banchamek will compete against Enriko Kehl and other great fights.

We caught up with Ned Kuruc to discuss both of these events as well as the future of K-1. The first thing is that K-1 will be holding an Amateur Open on the 13th and 14th of September in the UK, which has attracted a lot of attention thus far. “As of right now we’ve had 500 inquiries and 50 countries have shown interest. We don’t really have hard numbers on this yet because the deadline is September 2nd. Tons of interest shown already, though.”

How does it play into the future of K-1, though? K-1 has always been the home of the top level of fighters, so it is an interesting turn to shift some of their focus to the future. “There is a bit of a generation gap -- or a generation loss -- and I believe that through the amateur system that it’s the best way to get the K-1 brand associated with kids that are coming up and for all martial arts. K-1 isn’t just about kickboxing, it’s about martial arts and it’s a platform for those involved to test their skills and see who is the best in the world. With that being said, the amatuer system is, what I feel, is the best way to get the brand associated with those up-and-coming fighters and kids who don’t remember K-1 like you or I do.

“Not only is this a good way for us to raise brand awareness across generations right now, but there are a lot of fighters out there who want to test their skills. K-1 is a high, high level, it’s the pinnacle of standup sports. There are amatuer groups out there that already have K-1 rules and make champions in these weight classes. K-1 is okay with that, because it is a sport unto itself. Our brand is its own sport,” he explains. “In the past no one has wanted to venture into amatuer sports. Just like when K-1 was founded, we want this to be an open tournament where we really are able to find the best fighters from across the world to compete under the K-1 banner.”

It’s a point that will ring true for fans of K-1, where the K-1 concept originally started under the premise of pulling all of the best fighters from across the world together under one banner and to have them compete against each other. As with anything else, though, it was a business and building stars became the main focus. So the scene began to only host the top few names year-in and year-out, which was exciting, but may have led to excluding other talents who were coming up through the ranks of amateur and professional leagues but couldn’t break into K-1 because fans in Japan wanted to see the names that they knew and loved.

“We want to give opportunities to the best fighters out there. The old K-1 was a bit of an old boys club where if you didn’t have the right management or the right trainers you’d never get that opportunity to compete in K-1. I’m not saying that it was a bad system,” he adds. “They were the best managers and trainers in the world and they produced some of the best fighters. But now we have Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and all of that with the internet and a fighter can post a video of themselves and send it to us and some doors might open up for him. This Amateur Open is for my team and myself to be able to physically see some of these fighters and get them involved with K-1. It’s a direct feeder system. We’re also willing to work with professional fighters who haven’t had a chance before, if you look at our cards we’ve given a lot of young, up-and-coming talent a chance on a bigger stage. Some have done really well and others haven’t, this is how you can really find the best fighters in the world.”

K-1 understands that their brand, name and rules are important in the world of kickboxing and have been adopted throughout the world. They aren’t looking to strip that away from anyone, because they feel that the sport of K-1 has taken on a life of its own, which they are willing to use to their advantage in promoting the brand of K-1. They look at K-1’s rules and see so many amateur events and championships around the globe that even see a possibility for K-1 to be considered an Olympic sport at some point, although not in the near future. This, looking towards building up a strong amateur feeder system, is a good first step. K-1 wants you to know that they aren’t just a brand, but they are a sport.

K-1 is now focused on Thailand, though, where K-1 will present the very first K-1 event on Thai soil in October. The show is the K-1 World MAX Finals where Buakaw Banchamek and Enriko Kehl will fight for the K-1 World MAX Championship, a title that the winner will wear proudly and defend as K-1 moves away from the yearly tournament format. 

“A lot of things had to fall in place for this to happen,” Ned explains. “First was Buakaw fighting for the championship. It’s a lot more evenly-matched fight than people think that it is, but when the officials from Thailand were talking with us, we understood how important it was to have a star like Buakaw on the card. It would mean a lot to Thai fans to see Buakaw win a K-1 title in Thailand, if he can get by Enriko, that is. We had to be creative in making this show happen. Everyone who works in this sport only tries to work with other people who work within the sport, which isn’t always the right way to do things.

“From what I’ve seen in my time with K-1, they generally aren’t the best business people. When I try to work with people I try to work with people who aren’t just in fighting and promoting. We try to work with entertainment companies and legitimate businesses. The group, people that I’m working with on this show aren’t in the fight game. They are from the business world in Thailand, so I had a different approach and it’s worked. This should be a very, very exciting show.”

The topic of the direction of the sport of kickboxing came up after last week I wrote about a growing movement among fans to err on the side of negativity for the outlook of the sport. “In my opinion, at this certain point, it’s gotten the most exposure that it has. We’re in the age of the internet, which helps. As far as K-1, it’s no secret that we are in a rebuilding phase. That’s my job, to rebuild it. Some people might think that it’s been a slow process or that it’s taken too long, but we’re in a very definite transition phase in kickboxing and the sport of K-1. You have K-1, who is still in the game, but yeah, we are a bit slower. Time will tell how my strategy unfolds. 

“Then you have other organizations, you have GLORY who have been putting a lot of money into their shows. They have a lot of talent, great production, but it’s not much of a business plan. Am I a fan of their product? Absolutely. Would I do things the way that they are doing it? Absolutely not, it just doesn’t seem like it’s a viable business plan that can go on for years. I just wouldn’t do it that way. You have other promotions like Enfusion that are doing a good job, you have SuperKombat, Rise, KRUSH. There are a lot of organizations out there, the problem that I have is that I have a massive brand and that I have to do it properly,” Ned explains. “My ideology is to not keep throwing millions of dollars into a show to generate small revenue. I think that there are a few organizations that are playing monkey-see, monkey-do with the UFC and I don’t think that is the proper way to do things.

“Kickboxing doesn’t sell PPVs. We know that, I feel like we’ve always known that. People have tried, but it just won’t work. That means that you can’t copy the UFC model because they are all about PPV. That’s where their revenue comes from. My idea is that it has to be done in steps, it has to be built, you need a foundation. If you look at the brands that have existed for years and not just a few before going away. That’s how K-1 has existed for so long. I feel that kickboxing is in a good state, generally, I would just hate to see some of the organizations make mistakes and go away. The way I see it, the more the merrier, the more that the sport is built up. It only helps all of us in the long run.”

The K-1 World MAX Finals takes place on October 11th in Pattaya, Thailand and the K-1 Amateur Open takes place on September 13th and 14th in the UK. For more information visit http://www.k-1.tv/

 

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