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Japanese Kickboxing Scene: February Preview

Although this month lacks a Krush or RISE event, February looks like another solid month for Japanese kickboxing with the focus this month seeming to be Japan vs Thailand with NJKF, Fist Kick and the Hoost Cup putting on quality Japan vs Thailand matchups including a Rajadamnern Stadium Super Bantamweight title fight between champion Kaimookdam Aikbangzai and Kunitaka.

February 10th - MA Kick ~Break 34~

Although it isn't anywhere near the level of Break 33, this event is headlined by a Welterweight fight between MA Kick #1 ranked Welterweight Yasuyaki Murata and #4 Akira Makoto with the winner likely getting a shot at champion Jun Nakazawa. The co-main event pits Yukimaru against Pupanrek Esugym.

DEEP*KICK 14

This is one of DEEP*KICK's biggest events as it features 2 title fights, first pitting 65kg champ and Krush Youth GP participant Hiroto Yamaguchi against 2011 K-1 Koshien runner-up Yuya Shibata. Yamaguchi went 5-2 last year, winning the DEEP*KICK 65kg Tournament, while suffering his first 2 pro defeats at the hands of SHIGERU and Koya Urabe. Shibata was very impressive in the Koshien system with wins over Minoru Kimura, Keisuke Ishida, Yosuke Komiyama and Riki Matsuoka, albeit in 1
 round fights. Last year he was 3-1, losing to Daizo Sasaki in the opening round of the Krush Youth GP. At 70kg, champion Ren Takeno defends his title against Yoji Fujimoto. In a pair of 55kg fights, Yukinobu Nakatsuka faces Koki Nakagawa while Krush vet Ikki Tanaka takes on Taiki. I would imagine the winner of these two fights will face each other with a shot at 55kg champ Seiya Rokukawa on the line. Nakatsuka and Tanaka would be the favorites and the two have fought before, with Nakatsuka coming out on top. Nakatsuka has fought Rokukawa twice already, losing convincingly in both cases. Also on the card is Hiroto Yamaguchi's brother, Yuma Yamaguchi, looking to make his way towards a title shot against 60kg champ Yuto Tsujide.

February 17th - New Japan Kickboxing Federation: 2013 1st

NJKF's first event of 2013 is headlined by a Rajadamnern Stadium Super Bantamweight fight between Kaimookdam Aikbangzai and Kunitaka. This is not Kaimookdam's first foray into NJKF, as he faced top 5 Featherweight Heihachi Nakajma last June, winning decisively. Kunitaka will be a big underdog here as he is just 2-5 against Thai competition since 2010, including a loss to Kaimookdam back in 2011. Tetsuya Yamato is featured on this card taking on Gansuwan Sasiprapa, who scored a knockout of Yuya Yamato last year. In a NJKF Welterweight title fight, aforementioned champion Yuya Yamato rematches Soichiro Miyakoshi in what should be a close, entertaining fight. Lightweight champion Keijiro Miyakoshi will look to rebound from back to back losses with a title defense against Ryota. At Super Lightweight, champion Seiji Takahashi will look for his 3rd straight stoppage as he defends his title against Kazushige Sugama. Super Bantamweight champion Arato looks to defend his title in a rematch with Hiroya Haga, who went 3-0 in 2012. In a fight to determine the vacant NJKF Flyweight title, super-prospects Nemo and Takashi Saenchaigym fight for a second time, with their first bout being a draw. Finally, WBC Japan Women's Featherweight champion Ayano Oishi defends her title against Team Dragon's Kimiko Sasaki. 

Fist Kick IX

This is a 2-part event, with the latter part featuring 6 big fights. First, Rajadamnern Stadium Featherweight champion Sirimongkon Ewagym (formerly PK Stereo/PK Muaythai) returns to Japan to face Daiki Nagashima. This will be Sirimongkon's 3rd trip to Japan as he defeated Shunta Ito in 2011 and fought to a surprising draw with Yusuke Shimizu at RISE/M-1 Infinity. Nagashima also ran into a bit of bad luck at that same event as he was knocked out by Chang Hyun Lee. At Super Lightweight, WPMF Japan champ Hidekazu Tanaka faces off against Kanongsuk WSR. Tanaka fought a tough schedule in 2012 and went 1-3 because of it while 2012 saw Kanongsuk go from top Lightweight to afterthought with a 1-4-1 record. Not sure if this is for Tanaka's WPMF Japan title, but both guys really need a win regardless. Joanna Jedrzejczyk returns to Japan after a win over Ayano Oishi in the Hoost Cup, this time facing NJKF Featherweight champion AZUMA. In fight to determine WPMF Japan Super Welterweight champion Takayuki WSR's next opponent, TOMOYUKI fights Takeshi Shimizu. In a WPMF Japan Bantamweight #1 contender bout, J-Network Super Flyweight champion Yuki looks to continue his run at Bantamweight against Noro Yuki. Finally, in a WPMF Japan Super Flyweight #1 contender bout, Sazanami Satsutama faces Nagata Haryi.

February 22nd - Shootboxing 2013 act.1

Shootboxing's 2013 opener only has 3 announced fights as of now, but already looks pretty promising as the top billed fight so far pits "Japanese Killer" Henri van Opstal against Yoshihiro Sato. van Opstal has compiled a 6-0 record against Japanese fighters, with wins over Hiroki Nakajima, Hinata, Yuichiro Nagashima, Satoru Suzuki and Akihiro Gono, but Sato will be his toughest test to date. While he is not the top Japanese Middleweight anymore, as evidenced by his loss to Kenta, Sato is still a top level talent in Japan and represents a much tougher challenge than any of the Japanese fighters van Opstal has faced to date. In what should be a fun fight, the always entertaining Bovy Sor Udomson fights Warren Stevelmans, who qualified for last year's S-Cup, but withdrew to fight as a late replacement in GLORY. At 61kg, the flashy Kizaemon Saiga returns to Shootboxing to face MMA fighter Masato Sannai, who had an impressive 2012 with wins over Shigeyuki Uchiyama and Seiya Kawahara.

February 24th - Hoost Cup Spirit 2

The Hoost Cup returns for its second installment of its Spirit series, this time a day-night double header, with the day portion headlined by a fight between NJKF Super Featherweight champion Daichi Yamato and M. Rachasakreck. The night portion is headlined by 2011 K-1 Koshien champ Sho Ogawa who takes on RISE veteran Shohei Asahara. Other featured fights are a 63kg bout between Yoshihiro Tomohita and Ryukei and a 58kg bout between Pinsiam Maki and Fukashi.

New Japan Kickboxing Federation: Muay Thai Open 23

This is one of the weakest Muay Thai Opens to date, but it still features some interesting matchups including Shota Saenchaigym vs Kongenchai Esugym, Shota Watabe vs Dejpanom Saenchaigym and Masahito Arthur vs Hiroki Yamamoto. 

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Ten Kickboxing Fights to Watch in February

We're back with another set of awesome fights to keep an eye on this month. February is when things are really starting to kick off, as there's just a ton of good events and fights across the board. For that reason, Instead of just separating this into a Part 1 and Part 2 series, I'm going to separate it into Kickboxing and Muay Thai. So here are ten kickboxing fights to keep an eye on this month.

February 2: Andrew Tate vs. David Radeff - Enfusion Live: Belgium - Zwevegem, Belgium

Andrew Tate is one of the top 85kg fighters in the world and looks to rebound from a loss here. It's an interesting match-up, as Radeff is certainly capable at 85kg but hasn't been very active lately, due to an injury layoff. This fight will also help us learn a lot more about the 85kg division, in relation to where these two stand. Tate has huge power and a huge knockout ratio, so don't blink.

February 2: Chang Hyun Lee vs. Li Ning - KHAN vs. Wu Lin Feng - Seoul, Korea

Chang Hyun Lee had his coming out party in our 2012 Fight of the Year against Genji Umeno at the K-1 WGP Final 16 and since then has been racking up wins. He's a very dynamic fighter and one of the most promising and exciting fighters out there right now. Li Ning is solid, but this should be another showcase for Lee.

February 16: Vincent Petitjean vs. Francis Javier Jorge - K-1 Event 4 - Troyes, France

This fight takes place at 86kg. Francis is the brother of Loren Javier Jorge. What's most interesting about this fight though, is Vincent Petitjean fighting under K-1 rules. He's one of France's top full contact fighters at 86kg, having beaten Andrew Tate at the end of 2011. He has a pretty good style for K-1 rules and a good showing and result here bring up some interesting things for him if he decides to pursue kickboxing.

February 22: Steve Moxon vs. Yohan Lidon - A1 - Melbourne, Australia

This is a great fight between two marquee names, and it takes place at 73.5kg. Moxon can get all the way down to 70kg while Lidon usually fights from 72.5-75kg. Moxon, however, actually also fights all the way up to 75kg despite his height. It's an interesting style match-up. Moxon's height disadvantage and dynamic boxing style, along with Lidon's more Muay Thai-oriented style make for an intriguing fight.

February 22: Chingiz Allazov vs. Alim Nabiev - Fight Club Octopus - Moscow, Russia

This is a battle of two super prospects. Alim Nabiev really made his name last year, going undefeated. He's still only 18 years old, while Allazov is only a few years older. Certainly Allazov has fought and defeated the better competition. Both fighters are highly skilled for their age and could be major players in the future.

February 23: Thomas Adamandopoulos vs. Alexander Arutyunyan - Supremacy II Triumph - Stockholm, Sweden

This fight has all the makings of an all out war. Adamandopoulos is the #6 ranked fighter on the LiverKick lightweight rankings, so this poses a big opportunity for Arutyunyan, who is a teammate of Sanny Dahlbeck. The reason why I think this could be a war is because both fighters tend to get wild and let it all hang out in the ring at times. Expect some non stop action in this fight.

February 23: Henri van Opstal vs. Yoshihiro Sato - Shootboxing 2013 act.1 - Tokyo, Japan

This is a big fight for Henri van Opstal, as he went undefeated against Japanese opposition last year in Japan. A win over Sato would be his biggest win to date and would certainly draw interest from big organizations. Sato has been on a bad losing skid lately, dropping three in a row, including a puzzling loss to Kenta at Krush.26 a week ago. Sato will need a win here to get his career back on track.

February 23: Vladimir Mineev vs. Revanho Blokland - Fight Nights: Battle at Moscow 10 - Moscow, Russia

Vladimir Mineev takes on another Dutch fighter here, although it's not as stiff of a test as Ali Cenik was in December. Mineev showed he can hang in that fight but also showed some flaws. He's still very young and I expect this to be a dominant performance from him as he continues to advance his career.

February 23: Warren Stevelmans vs. Bovy Sor Udomson - Shootboxing 2013 act.1 - Tokyo, Japan

Warren Stevelmans comes off a big win over Dzhabar Askerov on very short notice and looks to get another win under his belt before once again fighting at GLORY, on March 23. He should beat Bovy but this one could be a slugfest. Bovy won't lay down for Stevelmans and will definitely exchange.

February 23: Enriko Kehl vs. Ramal Aslanov - Fight Vision 3 - Baku, Azerbaijan

Enriko Kehl is still very young but is a fighter on the rise from 70-72.5kg. He's coming off his controversial loss to Dzhabar Askerov in December, which at the very least showed he can hang at 70kg.

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Abraham Roqueñi vs. Giga Chikadze on Sunday in Spain

Abraham Roqueñi has been a name fighter at 70kg ever since his win over Andy Souwer two years ago, and this weekend he's back in action for his first fight of 2013.

Roqueñi will fight Giga Chikadze on this Sunday, February 3 at Street Culture Fight Night 2 in Tenerife, Spain. The fight will be at 70kg under K-1 rules, with three rounds of three minutes. This will be Roqueñi's first fight back since his win over Xu Yan at the K-1 MAX Final in December. Chikadze, a Georgian, is based out of Holland and has been on It's Showtime and SLAMM events to name a few. It's a big opportunity for him to try and make a name for himself.

Also on the card will be a Muay Thai fight between Carlos La Loba and Emad Kadyear. La Loba defeated one of the top Spanish up and comers, Maximo Suarez, in October and continues to string together wins, making him one to watch out for.

Speaking of Maximo Suarez, he'll also be on the card, taking on Flavio Santos.

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