Yes, of course this is going to contain spoilers. I'm giving you the ability to not see it before it happens, though.
Yes, of course this is going to contain spoilers. I'm giving you the ability to not see it before it happens, though.
It is hard to believe that Badr Hari vs. Gokhan Saki is just a few days away now, but it is coming and coming on fast like a freight train. 2012 is kicking off with a legitimate Heavyweight bout that fans want to see after being denied a K-1 World Grand Prix. Gokhan Saki and Badr Hari are two of the top Heavyweights in the world and will lock horns for the second time for It's Showtime. We've seen the ballyhoo behind Hari, but now here is video of Saki getting prepared for the fight.
A big part of the narrative leading into this fight is the retirement of Badr Hari and possible departure of Gokhan Saki. Hari will move into professional Boxing for the time being and Saki is going absolutely nowhere, as he has signed a new agreement with TSA and Golden Glory to fight for their upcoming cards or for potential K-1 cards. So the real departure will be Hari, and by the looks of this video, Saki is in some of the best shape that we've ever seen him in, and he is ready to go to war. [source]
in just a little over two months from now Badr Hari and Gokhan Saki will square off in one of Heavyweight Kickboxing's most anticipated bouts in a long time. There is a lot of hype leading into it, as well as a running narrative that both men are looking to exit the realm of Kickboxing for the world of Heavyweight Boxing. No one is quite sure how long, if at all that will hold for either man, but the threats need to be taken seriously for now. Personally, I feel like the rise of FIKA and other possible outlets for Kickboxing will quickly draw them back in, but you never know when a fighter will stick to their convictions. In the meantime, watch this hype video made for the upcoming It's Showtime 55 showdown between Badr and Gokhan and enjoy the ride.
Mark Miller comes back to the ring after heart surgery on May 28th in Moscow, Russia for The Glory World Series event. There he will be facing Nikolaj Falin, an accomplished Heavyweight Kickboxer in his own right, while the world will be able to view it. The Glory World Series will air in over 90 countries worldwide, including the United States on HDnet on June 17th. If you aren't already hyped up, this will help. Spread this around, post it onto your Facebook, post it on Twitter, email it to your friends. Get the word out that Mark Miller is coming back.
Two big kickboxing shows this weekend to report on:
United Glory hosted the semi-final rounds of their World Series of Kickboxing and MMA tournaments this weekend. On the kickboxing side of things, in the first semi-final, JLB teammate Brice Guidon defeated Mourad Bouzidi via KO in the 2nd round. I have not yet found any footage from this fight, but it's an impressive win as Bouzidi is both a solid fighter and very tough to stop. In semi-final #2, tournament favorite Gokhan Saki (pictured) took a unanimous decision win over Wendell Roche. Another powerful, leg kick heavy performance from Saki in this one, although Roche put up a game fight, particularly in the 3rd round. With those wins, the final is set: Gokhan Saki vs. Brice Guidon. That is scheduled from some time in May, though could very easily be delayed. Saki will remain the favorite, but Guidon is a tough fighter, with a 2010 win over top 10 Hesdy Gerges. He'll definitely make this a good final, and has it in him to pull off the upset.
Only partial results are available for the rest of the card, as United Glory is known to shuffle their line-ups considerably at the very last minute. In more kickboxing action, Nieky Holzken, Errol Zimmerman, and Robin van Roosmalen were all victorious against unknown opponents. Not much is known here, except that Zimmerman apparently broke the arm of his opponent - we'll have more details on that incident plus all these fights as soon as we can. Finally, in the MMA tournament, both UFC veterans lost, as Siyar Bahadurzada defeated John Alessio, and Tommy Depret defeated Roan Carneiro. Siyar and Depret will meet in the MMA finals on that same May show.
The other big event was over in Romania, where SuperKombat and WAKO-Pro presented an event billed as Romania vs. Italy. In a rematch from the 2010 K-1 Europe GP finals, Freddy Kemayo once again defeated Sebastian Ciobanu, this time via extra round decision. Romanian site Kombat.ro is saying there was some controversy surrounding that decision, though take that with a grain of salt as they tend to really favor their local fighters. Dzevad Poturak also took a decision win over Ionut Ifitmoaie, while Catalin Morosanu defeated Yuksel Ayadin, again via decision. On the undercard, the hyped Stoica brothers were both triumphant, as Andrei Stoica defeated Alex Rossi, and Bogdan Stoica took out Levio Ramoni, both via decision. Full results here.
Next weekend, the show to watch is It's Showtime Brussels with their 61kg title on the line. There was a NJKF show also scheduled that was to feature Tetsuya Yamato, but that show has been postponed to May 21 in light of the disaster in Japan.
Gokhan Saki is, without a doubt, one of the best Heavyweight Kickboxers in the world, who is able to piece together amazing combinations that have floored some of the best in the world. With that being said, last night Rico Verhoeven went into his fight against Saki with a perfect game plan that was able to nullify Saki's strengths. I've spoken with a lot of fans and read a lot of reactions and I seem to be seeing a lot of "bad reffing" and "Saki got screwed" talk floating around, when in fact, Saki was not screwed at all.
A careful viewing of the fight will show that Rico controlled the first and third rounds and was able to nullify most of Saki's offense while landing the cleaner strikes. Jack Slack is always a great resource when it comes to breaking down technical stuff, which always makes me happy as I used to have to do that, but having dudes like him around means that I can focus on other things. Check out his pretty great breakdown of the fight, although I do have one small qualm; GLORY has a flash knockdown rule, which states that if a strike has the force to put a fighter down, it is ruled a knockdown. Rico's punch might have missed, but the kick before it landed and put Saki onto the math, which meant it was a flash knockdown.
The wait is over for Gokhan Saki's return and it will not be in the GLORY ring but instead in the GFC ring in Dubai. On April 17th GFC will present an oddly-enough Badr Hari-free show that is headlined by another four-man tournament. Winning the tournament gains entry into an 8-man tournament later on this year that Badr Hari and Ismael Laazar have already qualified for.
What's interesting is that most of these fighters are smaller than your average Heavyweight and qualify as Light Heavyweights in most respects, especially Ilunga, who made a name for himself as It's Showtime 95kg Champion and as a GLORY Light Heavyweight contender.Heavyweight 4 Man TournamentSteve Mckinnon VS Zabit Samedov Jafar Ahmadi VS Danyo IlungaSuperfightsGokhan Saki VS Sebastian CiobanuIsmael Lazaar VS Fatih ulusoyAndre Meunier VS Naoufal Benazzous
Like or hate him, one thing is certain, Mike Passenier is one of the biggest names in kickboxing today. Combat sports figures from many disciplines have found a home at Mike's Gym. Among the many superstars who have called his gym home names like Badr Hari, Melvin Manhoef, Murthel Groenhart are a few of the most notable. Definitely an affable character with a penchant for quick dry wit, don't be fooled by his big smiling brown eyes and equally large grin. Mr. Passenier is a shrewd business man.
In our chat before Glory 15, Mike fielded questions regarding his plans for 2014, Badr Hari and his style of training.
SW: What are your plans for 2014?
MP: I want to do more with social media, I'm having someone work on becoming more active with that. I am also planning on expanding my gym franchise to include other locations.
His plan to expand his franchise is indicative of his calculated risk taking and no nonsense approach to life. When asked how he describes his training style, Mike characterizes his style of coaching as hands on, but demands respect from his trainees and teaches with the expectation that the fighters take responsibility for their roles in victory and defeat.
SW: Who are you currently working with?
MP: Well, there's Saki who's here for the tournament. Also still Badr Hari, Murthel and Artur Kryshenko.
SW: You also train MMA fighters... I know at one time Muhammed Lawal was training in your gym.
MP: Yes a lot of guys.
SW: Speaking of Badr, is there any truth to the rumor that he has signed to fight with Glory?
MP: No, you know people see or hear that maybe he's meeting with someone then they automatically assume that he's signed with them but not right now. Not true.
As an observer, Mike appears to train a wide variety of personality types with varying skill levels.With that observation in mind, I tried to ascertain what qualities he looks for in the fighters he takes on.. His response to this question was a bit more abstract, not identifying one or any certain combination of qualities as a predictor of success.
For those who might not take him seriously, Mike could care less! Right now he has found a formula for success and he plans to make it grow. He and his brand have risen like the mythical Phoenix from the ashes of his former gym that was lost in a fire in 2009. The new Mike's Gym is spacious and has state of the art equipment, but he also maintains respect for older, tried and true regimens that enhance strength, agility and speed among his fighters. In addition to gym facilities, Mike stated that he also has a residence at which the fighters can live while they train with him.
At the end of this interaction, Mike revealed himself to be a complex individual who surprisingly enough, when he's not motivating fighters in the gym, admits that he enjoys watching pro wrestling with his son. But again, perhaps not so surprising at all as Mike easily cops to having his own flair for building up fights and making things exciting in the ring.
I've heard of fighters being unwilling to accept defeat in the past before, but Gokhan Saki's view of his fight with Rico Verhoeven has seemingly gone beyond just his denial over the loss and moved into him threatening legal action against GLORY. At GLORY 11 he faced Rico Verhoeven in the semi-finals of the GLORY 11 Heavyweight tournament, where the referee scored a controversial knockdown in favor of Rico Verhoeven. Saki firmly believes that he was screwed out of a victory and that he would have been ruled the winner if it wasn't for that knockdown.
How much does he believe this? He released a statement through Golden Glory TV today stating that he was looking into taking legal action against the organization. I'm not sure what good this would even do at this point as it was a tournament, which Verhoeven went on to win, not just a single fight. Would he want them to repeat the entire tournament just for him to have a do over? Never mind that things quite simply don't work the way that he thinks it does. This isn't a Jerome Le Banner temper tantrum in Japan, this was a fight that happened in the United States with oversight from the Illinois Athletic Commission. The Commission chose the officials for the fights and the protest would have to be filed with them (although it would absolutely fall upon deaf ears).
It seems like Saki is unwilling to let this go and there is talk of this helping to build a rift between Saki, Mike's Gym and the GLORY organization. If Saki really wants to get down to brass tacks, that same referee could have disqualified him for Saki putting his hand son him, but chose to let the fight continue with just a stern warning. It's unfortunate that Verhoeven's win will be tainted like this, as actions like this taint the situation for everyone involved; from the winner, to the organization to the loser who is protesting.
GFC Fight Series 3 went down this afternoon in Dubai and I think that we can officially put a fork in Dubai as a venue for kickboxing after GLORY 20 and GFC 3 and consider it done. There doesn't seem to be many -- if any -- kickboxing fans there. The show went on regardless and there were some interesting results, for sure, such as Zabit Samedov winning the Heavyweight tournament with a victory over Danyo Ilunga. I'd probably prefer to see these guys meet at Light Heavyweight, but Samedov's win proves that he really is one of the better kickboxers in the world and I'd love to see him compete against top level Light Heavyweights.
The big, headline fight of the evening was Gokhan Saki against Sebastian Ciobanu that saw Saki back after a year away from the ring and scraping off that ring rust against the tough Ciobanu. Ciobanu held on for the decision but it was all Saki in his return. Results are from our friends at Kiksie.1. Muay Thai - Super WelterweightSaleed Nouri Long (Iran) def. Jamnian Srikam (Thailand) by TKO in round 12. Superfight - MiddleweightAdrian Gârlonța (Romania) def. Jashid Givechi (Iran) by KO in round 23. Superfight - WelterweightMasoud Minaei (Iran) def. Jason Woodham (United Kingdom) by KO in round 14. Superfight - WelterweightBrad Riddell (New Zealand) def. Maseh Nuristani (Australia) by TKO in round 15. Superfight - HeavyweightMurat Aygun (Turkey) def. Tofan Pirani (Sweden) by TKO in round 16. Superfight - HeavyweightSrdjan Seleš (Serbia) def. Gaétan Sautron (France) by TKO in round 37. Superfight - HeavyweightAndre Meunier (Australia) def. Naoufal Bennazous (Morocco) by TKO in round 18. Heavyweight Tournament Semifinal 1Zabit Samedov (Azerbaijan) def. Steve Mckinnon (Australia) by decision (unanimous)9. Heavyweight Tournament Semifinal 2Danyo Ilunga (Germany) def. Jafar Ahmadi (Iran) by TKO in round 210. Superfight - HeavyweightIsmael Lazaar (Morocco) def. Fatih Ulusoy (Turkey) by TKO in round 1 (leg injury)11. Superfight - HeavyweightGokhan Saki (Turkey) def. Sebastian Ciobanu (Romania) by decision in round 3 (unanimous)12. Heavyweight Tournament FinalZabit Samedov (Azerbaijan) def. Danyo Ilunga (Germany) by decision after an extra round (4th)