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Liverkick's Exclusive Interview with Superkombat President Eduard Irimia

With all the hubub about GLORY's R2G shows and the upcoming events in London, Istanbul, and Milan, Superkombat has been flying quietly under the radar.

One of the two major kickboxing organizations in the world today, Superkombat is currently home to the likes of Catalin Morosanu, Raul Catinas, the Stoica brothers, Sergei Laschenko and more. The President of Superkombat, Eduard Irimia, made waves in the kickboxing world earlier this year when he announced his plan for global expansion, which involved the opening of Superkombat branches across the world, collaborations with regional fighters, managers, and gyms, and a partnership with K-1 and WAKO.

You might already know that this year Superkombat has begun holding tryouts in a variety of countries, including Greece, Germany, and the U.K, in an effort to groom a "new generation" of kickboxing. We caught up with Eduard to discuss his plans for Superkombat's future in 2013 and beyond.  

Read more for the full interview


A Conversation with Lion Fight 8's Kevin Ross on the Comeback Trail

Ross (C) Can't Stop Crazy / Galen Okazaki

If you follow Muay Thai in America, you know the name Kevin Ross. Hell, if you follow Muay Thai in general, you know Kevin Ross. Ross is one of the few American fighters over the past few years to really move outside of his comfort zone and go to Thailand and fight some of the best in the world. He has long been considered one of the best Thai fighters to come out of the US by fans and is set to make his return to the ring this Saturday night at Lion Fight 8 live on AXS TV.

Kevin is coming off of a pretty bad ACL injury that required surgery and months of rehabilitation that left him out of action for all of 2012, but that all ends this Saturday night as he squares off against Chris Kwiatkowski. LiverKick's Dave Walsh caught up with Kevin to discuss this fight, his rehabilitation and a whole lot more.

LK: So obviously it has been a while since you’ve fought, what have you missed the most when it comes to fighting?

KR: I mean, I’ve missed it all. Right after surgery I was in there on one leg punching the bag. I couldn’t stay away, man, I’d start getting depressed, like this is what I love to do, you know? Like the number one passion in my life and to be away from it for any period of time is just impossible. Especially the fighting. The fighting is like the peak of the sport, you know, with what I love to do it is the very top of that. To be away for as long as I have been, it’s been really hard. Even if it’s a month or two, I want to be in the ring. It’s been what, 15 months? It’s been rough.

LK: The ACL injury that you are recovering from could mean the end of a career for some fighters, but you seem to be healing up pretty well from it. What kind of obstacles did you have to overcome to heal up from the injury and the surgery?

KR: There’s a list! In the beginning one of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome was there was all of this scar tissue in my knee. We couldn’t get to the actual rehabilitation until they could get all of that broken up so I could bend my knee back all the way. The first few weeks were some of the most painful things I’ve had to go through in my life, I was like punching holes in the wall, man. Every time I went in there to rehab they had to break up the scar tissue and like smash my leg back down trying to get it to bed all of the way back. That was one of the hardest things. You know, not knowing if I was going to be able to make it back.

There were some days when I really was like, “I don’t know if I can do this anymore.” I knew that I could walk right now, but didn’t know if I could make it back. As soon as I was able to start training again I would look at all of the videos of my training that I did for my old fights, and was like damn dude, I don’t know if I can do that again. While I’m happy to be healthy and all of that, at the same time you realize how hard the sport is. You forget all of the stuff that you have to do. The ups and downs and stuff, you get kind of mixed feelings about it, but they are all temporary things. This is what I love to do and that is what got me through.



LiverKick Exclusive Interview with Yokkao Extreme's Stefania Picelli

StefaniaIf you've been following Kickboxing and Muay Thai over the past few years you'll be no stranger to the name of Yokkao. Yokkao has become one of the premier brands worldwide when it comes to muay thai equipment and has been doing a lion's share to help spread the sport beyond the borders of Thailand in a big way. You may not be familiar with the name Stefania Picelli, but the truth is, at this point you won't have a choice but to know her name as she has worked hard to both push the Yokkao label as well as to promote the sport of muay thai internationally through the Yokkao Extreme brand, Muay Thai Combat and now through the Yokkao Angels project.

She's a very, very busy woman and we caught up with her to ask her a few questions as she prepares for Yokkao Extreme 2013.

LK: Muay Thai is still a sport that is still somewhat exotic outside of Thailand, what kind of challenges have you seen as a promoter and entrepreneur within the sport?

SP: It's hard to understand for people that don't know anything about combat sports. Muay Thai has the luxury to be an ancient art, so you can approach to these people in that way, explaining the meaning of practicing Muay Thai and involving as many people as possible.

This is my purpose as a promoter because if I'll be able to involve different kinds of people, in the future Muay Thai and all combat sports can grow.

As an entrepreneur: it's hard to find the right balance between promotion, business and love for Muay Thai, but I think to be on the right way.

LK: What sort of vision do you have for Muay Thai internationally in the future?

SP: What I would like to see is that a mother doesn't cover her son's eye during a fight, that children can approach Muay Thai with the right mindset and that the Muay Thai can be recognized as a valid alternative to soccer, tennis, volleyball or whatever.

I'm sure that all the people that are supporting me are helping me to reach this goal and I'm very grateful for this.

LK: You've seen a great deal of success with both the Yokkao brand and the Yokkao Extreme events, what are your plans for them in the future?

SP: As I like to think...future is the future and after Yokkao Extreme 2013 will be a great new year with new projects.

LK: Do you find it difficult being a woman in an industry full of men?

SP: It's difficult to work just with men: fighters are really nice and well-mannered and I feel like to be a sister for them, helping them with their problems but when is the time to pull out their claws, I'm not the one who pulls back ... not for nothing I grew up with a naughty brother!

LK: What sort of obstacles have you had to overcome as a female promoter, specifically?

SP: The biggest obstacles were that the people really weren't used to dealing with it when they usually just deal with men....but I'm a smart person and I think that the people who worked with me really appreciated what I've done.

LK: Does Yokkao Extreme have any further plans involving the United States?

SP: Yes as I went to New York to see how the Muay Thai was present in the country and I was really happy to see how many Muay Thai fans there are and the potential of working in your country.

LK: You've put in a ton of work to become a success, what were you doing before promoting events and running a label like Yokkao?

SP: I was modeling since 20. It was a period of my life during university but it allowed me to grow very quickly. I'm happy to had this experience because I'm using it also right now (Yokkao Angels)

LK: What do you see your role as in the sport of Muay Thai internationally?

SP: As a real promoter who support Muay Thai in the right way

LK: Who is your all-time favorite fighter?

SP: In the past Samart, now definetely Saenchai

LK: Who is your biggest inspiration?

SP: When I work hard and I don't have time except to work for Muay Thai promotion I think that I'm bringing something of my family in everything I do. I'm half Thai and I think that Muay Thai is in my DNA. I lived Muay Thai as a Thai person and this is what I like to transmitted to people.

Yokkao Extreme 2013 goes down on January 26th, for more information check out the official site, also follow Stefania and Yokkao on twitter.


LiverKick Talks With Saturday's SuperKombat Headliner, Sebastian Ciobanu

SuperKombat's final World Grand Prix Qualification event of the year takes place on Saturday in Arad, Romania. The main event, however, isn't a tournament fight, it's a super fight and it pits Romania's Sebastian Ciobanu against Bosnia's Dzevad Poturak in a battle of two K-1 veterans. We got the chance to talk with Ciobanu about the fight, SuperKombat fighters being in K-1, and even his vampire persona.

LK: Morosanu, Adegbuyi and Catinas are all in K-1. How do you feel about not being included?

Sebastian Ciobanu: In my opinion, every fighter has his chance for glory and I’m not upset because I was not selected this year for the K-1 Final 16. I had my chance in 2009 and I’m sure I will have it again next year.

LK: You are coming off two good wins in a row. If you beat Dzevad Poturak, do you think you deserve a spot in K-1?

Sebastian Ciobanu: In this moment I'm thinking only about the fight with Dzevad Poturak, an opponent with a lot of experience, but after a big battle with him I’m sure I will win and gain a spot in K-1 tournaments.

LK: In 2008 you defeated Poturak's brother, Dzenan. Will this experience help you at all with the fight against Dzevad?

Sebastian Ciobanu: When I fought with Dzenan, I was at the start of my career in the heavyweight division, but now I'm much stronger and determined and I'm sure I can win this fight.

LK: How do you see the fight with Dzevad Poturak going?

Sebastian Ciobanu: Yes, I beat his brother and I hope in this fight Poturak will underestimate me. Also, I will fight in my country, in front of my fans, so I will kick him like a vampire so he can feel real pain.

LK: Tell us about your training for your upcoming fight with Poturak.

Sebastian Ciobanu: In this fight will be a better Sebastian Ciobanu than in the last battle. I will have some surprises for Poturak. He will see!

LK: SuperKombat fighters are very popular in Romania. Now you're in the main event, how does it feel to be the main attraction?

Sebastian Ciobanu: The SuperKombat brand is very popular in Romania, but also in Europe thanks to president Eduard Irimia who created a great product. Yes, I'm in the main-event after a lot of sacrifices. I worked many years to get here.

LK: What is it like to train with Catalin Morosanu? He has gotten a lot better recently.

Sebastian Ciobanu: I have a special merit with Mihai Constantin, our coach, who created us as fighters. We became very good friends thanks to him. We spar together at the highest level. We hope also to attract many youngsters whoo can become good fighters in the future.

LK: Where did you get the "Son of Dracula" name from? You seem to embrace the vampire character.

Sebastian Ciobanu: I got this nickname from Radu Pietreanu, a TV star in Romania. He is a friend of mine and also a big fan of SuperKombat and K-1. In all battles I fight until blood and I was like a vampire because when I see blood on my body I'm stimulated to beat my opponent. So I became Son of Dracula from Moldavia!

SuperKombat's World Grand Prix Fourth Qualification event takes place this Saturday, October 20 in Arad, Romania. For full fight card information, click here.


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