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SuperKombat's 2011 Awards

Without a doubt, 2011 has been the year that promotions outside of K-1 have stepped up, big time. This includes Romanian promoter Eduard Irimia's SuperKombat. It felt like it came out of nowhere, but came out of a network of local events promoted within Romania successfully by Irimia over the years to build to the formation of SuperKombat. SuperKombat held a World Grand Prix for Heavyweights this year in a world where the only other promotion doing a big Heavyweight tournament was Fight Code. Errol Zimmerman walked away with the SuperKombat One Night WGP, while Sergei Laschenko won the World Grand Prix Championship this year while Vitali Akhramenko walked away with the Fight Code championship. To say that this was interesting would be an understatement.

Over the weekend SuperKombat held an awards ceremony to commemorate their first year of existence in Romania. Of course, it is telling that some of the bigger names in Kickboxing were presented with awards in front of a giant screen that read "EDUARD IRIMIA PRODUCTIONS" on it, but I guess being on the cover of Forbes in Romania is a big deal. Outside of some of the beautiful cities all that I know about Romania is what I learned about the prostitutes that died in a crate container on the way into the Baltimore port in season 2 of HBO's "The Wire." So it is safe to say that Irimia is a big deal in his hometown, big enough to have his name on a board.

Knockout of the Year Errol Zimmerman (vs. Roman Kleibl)
Fight of the Year Russian Cornelius vs. Slavo Polugic
Special Fight of the Year Alexandru Longu vs. Bob Sapp
Best Evolution in 2011 Bogdan Stoica
Newcomer of the Year Benjamin Adegbuyi
Most Popular Fighter Catalin Morosanu
2011 SuperKombat WGP Winner - Sergei Laschenko
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Photos of the Day: K-1 Keeps it Real in IGF

Inoki Genome Federation, Antonio Inoki's professional wrestling promotion that is co-promoting the upcoming Real Entertainment New Year's Eve event, Genki Desuka! As par for the course with IGF, there are a lot of MMA and K-1 fighters involved in these cards, including a main event between Jerome Le Banner and Josh Barnett. JLB defended his IGF Championship against Barnett by doing what he does best; rearranging faces.

The event also featured a few other K-1 alumni, including Yuichiro Jienotsu Nagashima against Bob Sapp, with Jienotsu using a school boy on Sapp.

Then of course, everyone's favorite, Peter Aerts was in a tag team bout, partnering with former WWE wrestler and Strikeforce fighter Bobby Lashley, where Aerts was able to make mince meat of their opponents, former PRIDE FC fighters and NJPW wrestlers Kendo KaShin and Kaz Fujita. [Photos (C) SportsNavi]

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Hicham El Gaoui vs. Jiri Zak on December 9 in Czech Republic

A fighter we recently highlighted, Hicham El Gaoui, is fresh off a victory over a top opponent in Alexander Stetsurenko on November 12. He's set to make a quick turn-around, this time facing another well regarded opponent.

El Gaoui will take on the Czech fighter Jiri Zak on December 9th in the Czech Republic. Zak has been a mainstay around the 77-80kg range for a while now, recently competing and losing twice in the MPL. The losses aren't too bad though, as they were under Muay Thai rules and to very good opposition in Marc de Bonte and Artem Vakhitov. This fight will take place under K-1 rules, where Zak is much more comfortable and has much more experience.

A win for Zak would help him rebound from a shaky fall of 2011. A win for El Gaoui would further advance his career and add to his already stellar 2011. El Gaoui has wins over L'houcine "Aussie" Ouzgni and Alexander Stetsurenko this year. Zak has a win over Fred Sikking this year, back in May.

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Look Out For Albert Chey

France, whether people know or not, is a hotbed for talented kickboxers and nak muays. Many of the fighters aren't well known, flying under the radar, mostly fighting on the strong French scene. Albert Chey is one of the best fighters in France, yet he is virtually unknown outside of France. The fact that he fights around 57-60kg, a weight that only the hardcore follow, adds to his struggle to gain recognition.

Chey is a very well rounded fighter, able to generate proficient offense with punches, kicks, knees and elbows. His skillset is far above a typical farang fighter. One facet where he is especially head and shoulders above most of his farang counterparts is his clinch game. His clinch game has really only been surpassed by Thais that he's fought but he still managed to pull off the wins. His wins over Thais include a fourth round stoppage of Petchbangprang Kaewsamrit and a clear decision over the #6 Lumpinee Stadium ranked at 122lbs, Tong Puideenaidee (Granted, the fight was two weeks after Tong fought Sam-A and Chey was a bit bigger).

In his fight against Petchbangprang Kaewsamrit, Chey was outskilled but made up for it with his power. In the second round, Chey knocked Petchbangprang down with a right cross off a low kick. He finished off Petchbangprang in the fourth, the referee forced to call off the bout due to unanswered elbows. This fight was the only one I can find where he was outskilled.

One familiar name on his resume is Karim Bennoui. Chey took a cut stoppage in the fifth round over Bennoui in May of 2009. The two will meet again in a week on December 7th in Lyon at the A1 Combat Cup/Fight Code promoted card. Unlike in the past, a win over Bennoui should bring a lot of attention to Chey, as Bennoui has made a name for himself in It's Showtime this year. A win over Bennoui in 2011 may spark interest from bigger promotions. Chey mostly fights in Muay Thai though, so I'm not sure if he would do K-1-like rulesets. If Thai Fight or the Muay Thai Premier League were to have his weight division, he would be a must have.

Chey will likely continue fighting around France and occasionally in Thailand.  Whether he gets an opportunity on the big stage is yet to be seen but all fans of kickfighting should keep an eye on Albert Chey. He's one of the best fighters at his weight outside of Thailand. Keep an eye out for videos of his next fight against Karim Bennoui. Here's his great fight against Petchbangprang Kaewsamrit.

 

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