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Keita, Tsukagoshi Complete Krush 67kg Tournament + 4 Fights Announced for 1/14 Card

With a little over a month to go until Krush's 2013 opener at Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo on January 14th, titled Jawin Presents Krush Grand Prix 2013 ~67kg Tournament First Round~, Krush has finalized the 67kg tournament field, as well as adding 4 other fights to the card, including a tournament reserve fight.

Rounding out the tournament are two fighters moving up from 63kg, Hitoshi Tsukagoshi and Makihira Keita. Keita earned his spot in the tournament with a win over RISE product Kotetsu at Krush-EX vol.6 in what was Krush's inaugural 67kg fight. Before that, he represented Nagoya at Krush.22, losing to Masaaki Noiri by decision. Tsukagoshi competed in this year's 63kg WILDRUSH League, going 3-2 and finishing 2nd, trailing winner Hideaki Yamazaki by only 2 points heading into the final leg, where he needed a knockout to win and fought like it, but left himself open and dropped a decision to TaCa. These two are solid fighters, but will likely be in over their heads, joining Yuta Kubo, Yuji Nashiro, Shintaro Matsukura, Yuya Yamamoto and foreigners Houcine Bennoui and Abdallah Ezbiri, all of whom would be favored to win a first round matchup with Tsukagoshi and Keita. An opening round win would be huge for either fighter, especially in a weight class that hasn't gotten much exposure and, quite frankly, is pretty shallow.

Along with the announcements of the last 2 participants came the announcement of a reserve fight, pitting the aforementioned TaCa against MA Kick Welterweight champion Jun Nakazawa. TaCa went 2-3 in the WILDRUSH League, picking up wins in his first and last fights, but losing 3 straight in between. Nakazawa went 4-0 in 2011, winning the MA Kick Welterweight title, but is just 1-2 this year with losses to Daiki Watabe and Hideya Tanaka with a win over Kousuman in between.

In a 64.5kg fight, former K-1 Koshien champ Hiroya returns to Krush to take on Keiji Ozaki. Hiroya's most recent outing in Krush was an upset loss to Hisaki Higashimoto in the opening round of this year's Youth GP. He returned to action just a few days ago at Big Bang 11, but at 65kg, picking up a 2nd round TKO of Chonden Chuwattana. Considering he fought at 65kg there and is facing a fellow 63kg fighter at 64.5kg, I would assume Hiroya is all but done at 63kg and is aiming to head to Krush's new 67kg weight class and maybe eventually end up at 70kg. Ozaki is no stranger to fighting larger opponents, competing at 70kg in K-1 before they adopted the 63kg weight class. He is 3-1 on the year with wins over Hironori Hattori, Ding Ning and Masanobu Gotu, with the loss coming to Taito.

At 60kg, "Kyoken" Yuji Takeuchi faces MMA fighter Hirotaka Miyakawa, who makes his kickboxing debut. Takeuchi returned this year after a 10-month layoff and is 2-1 since, picking up wins over Sendet Sasiprapa and Fumiya Osawa, but losing his most recent fight to rising prospect SHIGERU a few days ago at Big Bang 11. Miyakawa started his career 3-6-2 from 2002-2006, then took a 3 year break and since returning is 3-4. While his record isn't pretty, Miyakawa is an action fighter with only 4 of his 18 fights going the distance.

In the last announced fight, 60kg fighters Kan Itabashi and Junpei Aotsu face off. Former RISE champ Itabashi is 1-1 in Krush, with his loss being a close decision to Naoki Ishikawa and his win a 1st round KO of Katsuya Goto. Aotsu is 3-1 this year, losing in the opening round of this year's Krush 60kg tournament to Yuya and winning 3 straight since. The winner of this fight could face the winner of Takeuchi-Miyakawa, with the winner being well-positioned for a title shot.

Also expected to participate on the card are 2012 Youth GP Finalist Hisaki Higashimoto, 60kg Tournament Finalist Katsuya Goto and WILDRUSH League participants Yukimitsu Takahashi and NOMAN.

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Vendetta VI This Weekend: Fight Card

Vendetta holds their sixth fight card this weekend in Vienna, Austria and it's undoubtedly their best one yet. The card features fighters from all over Europe, including four from FF Carbin in Holland like Sergio Wielzen, Duoli Chen and Aziz Kallah.

The main event sees the always active long time veteran Fadi Merza in his home country against England's Jason Woodham at 72.5kg. Merza comes off a September win in Austria over Mohammed El Mir. He was scheduled to fight Steve Moxon n October but had to pull out.

At 63.5kg, Sergio Wielzen once again fights at a pretty high weight for him against Austria's Sasa Jovanovic. Jovanovic has been around for a long time around Europe and usually is a good test no matter who he fights. Wielzen is winless this year so he'll really want to get a win and get some momentum going for 2013.

Also from FF Carbin is Duoli Chen, who's been featured on It's Showtime this year as one of the up and coming 77kg fighters. Chen will fight Austria's Shodran Veseli at 76kg and looks to make it two wins in a row after his win at It's Showtime Brazil last month.

At 74kg, FF Carbin's up and comer Aziz Kallah fights Foad Sadeghi, again from Austria. Sadeghi lost to Maximo Suarez in September and this is a similar fight, as Kallah is in a similar career position to Suarez as a promising up and comer. At 84kg there's another Holland vs. Austria match-up, as Errol Koning fights David Keclik in full Muay Thai rules. All the rest of the fights are K-1 rules.

72.5kg: Fadi Merza vs. Jason Woodham

63.5kg: Sergio Wielzen vs. Sasa Jovanovic

74kg: Aziz Kallah vs. Foad Sadeghi

75kg: Lirim Ahmeti vs. Mika Tahitu

75kg: Serdan Dedecan vs. Ales Zavec

76kg: Duoli Chen vs. Shkodran Veseli

81kg: Adam Evloev vs. Alen Belec

81kg: Aleksander Stankov vs. Fahir Batjari

84 MT: Errol Koning vs. David Keclik

HW: Muamer Tufekcic vs. Antonio Copeta

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Fights To Watch In December: Part 2

I've already given ten fights to keep an eye on this month, now here's ten more. December is a really busy month with tons of great fights going on. Even with two parts to this post, I'm still leaving out a ton of good fights.

December 8: Duoli Chen vs. Shkodran Veseli - Vendetta VI - Vienna, Austria

Duoli Chen looks to be a promising up and coming fighter at 77kg, with a dominant win at It's Showtime Brazil last month. He lost to L'houcine "Aussie" Ouzgni in October but there's no shame in that and seems to be getting better under the tutelage of Lucien Carbin. This fight should be another fight for him to showcase why he's been featured on It's Showtime, as well as to get some more momentum going into 2013 as GLORY looks to utilize his weigh class.

December 9: Stephen Meleady vs. Seeoui Sor Sunantachai - Muay Thai Warriors - Macau

Stephen Meleady has made a name for himself this year, beating Kongnapa Sirimongkol and giving a very tough fight to Rungravee Sasiprapa. Here he's in another fight that is bound to be action packed. Seeoui is an action fighter himself so this promises to be a great fight.

December 9: Toni Milanovic vs. Dragon Jovanovic - Supreme FC - Belgrade, Serbia

Originally scheduled to fight Nenad Pagonis, this is now a full on heavyweight fight as Toni Milanovic fights Dragon Jovanovic. Put this into perspective: Milanovic just won a four man tournament in the Czech Republic on November 24 - but the tournament was at 86kg. Now Milanovic steps all the way up to heavyweight and faces an opponent who significantly outweighs him. Having fought Sahak Parparyan and Andrei Stoica this year, I don't put it past Milanovic to do well here, as he's a bright up and comer at only 22 years of age.

December 14: Hirotaka Urabe vs. Naoki Ishikawa - Krush.25 - Tokyo, Japan

Hirotaka Urabe is Krush's champion at 60kg and at times lately has made easy work of some opponents but that won't be the case here. Ishikawa has given some very tough fights to Urabe, although Urabe has a win and a draw against him. Their second and last encounter was the one which ended in a draw and still stands as the only blemish on Urabe's record in his last twelve fights. Ishikawa has won two in a row since that fight and there's no doubt that he'll be up for this fight.

December 15: Aikpracha Meenayothin vs. Jordan Watson - Bangkok, Thailand

Aikpracha has had a breakout year in 2012, winning a Lumpinee title and getting many international fights. This time he gets Jordan Watson, who already faced Saiyok Pumphanmuang this year. Aikpracha fights are never boring

December 15: Vladimir Mineev vs. Ali Cenik - Battle at Moscow 9 - Moscow, Russia

Vladimir Mineev is one of the best up and comers in kickboxing at just 22 years of age, having won ten fights in a row. Mineev is in a similar position to Roman Mailov, having built up a name in Russia and gradually increasing the level of opposition that he faces. In Ali Cenik its one of his toughest tests yet. Cenik gave Danyo Ilunga a tough fight and was able to hit him a lot. Look for Mineev to work some slick counters as Cenik tries to throw big power shots.

December 15: Halim Chibani vs. Alyssane Sy - Saint Raphael, France

Halim Chibani may not be well known outside of France but in October he scored a big win over another one of France's best 85kg fighters in Yassine Ahaggan, which probably makes Chibani the top 85kg fighter in France. This should be an interesting fight to see just how good Chibani is, as Ahaggan also defeated Sy.

December 16: Singmanee Kaewsamrit vs. Andrei Kulebin - Thai Fight 2012 Finals

Singmanee and Andrei Kulebin fought back in June with Singmanee getting what was to many a controversial decision. Now they'll meet again, with Singmanee looking in better form in his last fight especially. Kulebin hasn't looked spectacular so far in Thai Fight but he's done what he's needed to do to win and gave Singmanee trouble last time. A three round fight is completely different so it'll be interesting to see what kind of pace the fight is fought at, considering that some weren't too fond of their first fight.

December 16: Buakaw Por. Pramuk vs. Vitaly Gurkov - Thai Fight 2012 Finals

This might be Buakaw's toughest test in a while (that might not be saying much considering the competition he's faced this year) in Gurkov. What Gurkov brings is a smothering clinch game that allowed him to defeat Kem Sitsongpeenong at the IFMAs. Gurkov seems to have found his place as a clincher in Muay Thai as opposed to fighting kickboxing and its paid dividends in Thai Fight so far. I'm interested in seeing if Gurkov will be able to trouble Buakaw and make for a competitive fight. And well, Buakaw's fighting.

December 21: Artem Levin vs. Simon Marcus - Ekaterinburg, Russia

Artem Levin and Simon Marcus are two of the best light heavyweight Muay Thai fighters right now and they'll finally meet after a number of delayed fights on December 21. Levin was given a lot of trouble by Steve Wakeling in July and hasn't fought pro since, although he did win the IFMAs. Marcus just won on Saturday very impressively against Sadibou Sy. This is what everyone wants to see, two top guys fighting each other.

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Franci Grajs Stakes Claim To Being #1 85kg Kickboxer With Enfusion Win

With yesterday's Enfusion tournament, we saw a series of fights that helped determine who the number one kickboxer at 85kg really is, with Franci Grajs laying stake to that claim.

Franci Grajs, Andrew Tate, Sahak Parparyan and Ritchie Hocking all had won two fights on the Enfusion TV show to qualify for this tournament. Going in, Tate and Sahak were the favorites, and at the time, if you were forced to pick a number one at 85kg, you'd probably say Sahak, with Tate close behind.

But that's why they fight the fights, and it sure didn't play out like it looked like it might on paper. In previewing the tournament I was sure to make note that Franci Grajs was a very formidable opponent and not a pushover for Sahak. I can't say that I wasn't expecting a Sahak Parparyan vs. Andrew Tate final though.

Franci Grajs fought a very smart fight against Sahak, staying on the outside and using his range to set up kicks. When Sahak would try to storm in with power punches, Grajs would clinch and land some effective knees. The fight was close but to me, Grajs was the clear winner. Already in the semi final, the perceived number one heading in had been beaten.

In the other semi final, Andrew Tate had made quick work of Ritchie Hocking. After that, I won't lie, I expected Tate to win the final in impressive fashion. What was most impressive about the final however, was the way in which Franci Grajs just completely turned it up a notch from the semi finals. Grajs knew what his plan was right away, and that was to enforce the clinch on Tate, landing some damaging knee strikes while Tate tried to punch out. Grajs ended up just being too much in the clinch, winning via KO in the first round from a series of punches and knees against the ropes.

With the win, Grajs won $30 000 and the third season of Enfusion. Aside from that though, he also laid stake to the claim that he is the number one kickboxer at 85kg. We don't have rankings for that weight, but if we did, he'd surely be at the top. Grajs beat two top fighters that are still top fighters, including Sahak who was probably number one going in.

Another thing I'd like to emphasize is what I talked about in the preview; how aside from being the number one, we now have another established name in a division without many established, top fighters. Franci Grajs made the most of his opportunity in winning this tournament. He went from a relative unknown to now being the number one kickboxer in his weight division. Not only is it huge for his status, it will also probably advance his career, with more potential fight offers coming his way, and potentially offers from the likes of GLORY, who I'm sure are now interested.

 

 

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