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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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Hirotaka Urabe vs Naoki Ishikawa 2, Shota Takiya vs Nobuchika Terado 2 Title Fights Set for Krush.15

About a week ago, Krush announced its 2012 schedule, with the biggest announcement being that 60kg and 55kg champions Hirotaka Urabe and Shota Takiya would be making the first defenses of their titles that they won in their respective Krush tournaments back in April. Yesterday, Krush finally announced who their opponents would be and both fights promise fireworks.

In a rematch of the quarterfinals of the Krush 60kg tournament, champion Hirotaka Urabe will look to defend his belt against none other than former AJKF Super Featherweight champion Naoki "Naokick" Ishikawa. The first time the two met, Urabe was coming off of a loss to Masaaki Noiri while Ishikawa was coming off back to back losses to Kizaemon Saiga and Ryuji Kajiwara. For Urabe, that win over Ishikawa started a 6-fight win streak which is still in tact and included him winning the Krush 60kg tournament. Since that fight, Ishikawa is 2-1 with his loss coming in a WBC Japan title fight against Yoshinori Nakasuka and most recently defeating "Kyoken" Yuji Takeuchi in an exciting rematch which saw both fighters on the canvas. After winning that fight, Ishikawa announced he wanted to face the Krush Supernova tournament winner and retire following that bout, so there is a possibility that Ishikawa could announce his retirement following this bout, especially if he were to lose. Hirotaka Urabe should be the favorite heading into this rematch as he seems to fare better under Krush rules than Ishikawa whose knees and clinch work have been all but eliminated since he began fighting under Krush/K-1 rules.

The other title fight announced was 55kg champ Shota Takiya defending his title in a rematch against former AJKF, RISE and M-1 Bantamweight champion and current ISKA World Super Bantamweight champion Nobuchika Terado. The first time they met was also for a title in the finals of a 4-man tournament for the vacant AJKF Bantamweight title, with Terado taking a 5 round decision over Takiya, though it was just Takiya's 9th pro fight. Since, Takiya has gone 10-3 with 7 of those wins coming by KO and he is currently riding a 7-fight win streak which saw him win the Krush tournament over Ryuya Kusakabe. Terado is 7-2 since that fight, though one of his losses was in the quarterfinals of the Krush tournament to Ryuya Kusakabe in a highly entertaining bout which saw both fighters dropped multiple times. In his most recent bout, Terado claimed the ISKA World title by a wide margin. Takiya should be the favorite here as he has improved greatly since their last fight as he holds the edge in power and speed and is one of the hottest fighters in Japan at the moment. However, Terado should not be counted out as he has significant power himself and is tough to put away. This should be an extremely entertaining bout and if it is anything like both of their most recent bouts against Ryuya Kusakabe, could be a contender for fight of the year. {jcomments on}

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