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Ryuya Kusakabe vs Ichinohe Sota Set for December 22nd Fujiwara Festival

A #1 contender's bout for the WPMF Japan Super Bantamweight title between WBC Japan Super Bantamweight champion and Krush 55kg Tournament finalist Ryuya Kusakabe and former WPMF Japan Bantamweight champion Ichinohe Sota has been announced for the December 22nd Fujiwara Festival/It's Showtime Japan 6 event. Kusakabe (13-4, 6 KO) is coming off a 5th round KO of #1 ranked NJKF Super Bantamweight Rookie to capture the WBC Japan Super Bantamweight title. Before that, Kusakabe had his 7 fight win streak snapped in the finals of the Krush 55kg tournament, losing to Shota Takiya by 3rd round KO. Sota (11-6-4, 8 KO) is coming off of a split draw against Takuma Ito back in August which snapped a 3-fight win streak that included him winning the WPMF Japan Bantamweight title by 1st round KO against Yuki Noro which he has since vacated to move up in weight. Common opponents between the two are Shota Takiya, who Kusakabe is 1-1 against and Sota is 0-1 against, and Hiroaki Mizuhara who Kusakabe defeated in the semis of the Krush tournament while Sota lost to him by extension round split decision back in 2008 under the AJKF banner. The current champion at the weight class is Yusuke Shimizu and although Shimizu is good, I would imagine the winner of this fight would be the favorite in the title fight. Kusakabe is likely the favorite here as he has been pretty hot lately, though Sota has started coming into his own this past year and both fighters have the power to end it at any time.

Already announced for the card is the big Featherweight matchup between Genji Umeno and Youske Morii. {jcomments on}

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Photo of the Day: The Future of Japanese Kickboxing

There is something about the youth system in Japan that cultivates talent in a very public way and creates stars that is unrivaled. K-1 ran their KOSHIEN series for a long time and it looks like Japanese promotion KRUSH, who was affiliated with FEG and K-1, have been on the same path. There is a good chance if FEG is completely cut out of K-1 that KRUSH will continue on in the legacy as their Youth GP has been a success so far. This image shows the next round of match-ups, HIROYA vs. Masaaki Noiri and Koya Urabe vs. Yukimitsu Takahashi. If you haven't seen these guys fight before, check our Fight Videos section and be in awe.

KRUSH

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Artur Kyshenko vs. Roberto Cocco Set For February 4

With a fight against Yodsanklai Fairtex coming up in two weeks, Artur Kyshenko now has another bout set. He'll fight on February 4th in Turin, Italy on the Thai Boxe Mania event which has played host to Giorgio Petrosyan before. His opponent, Roberto Cocco, is an Italian fighter based out of Turin who has recently fought in the MPL.

Cocco hasn't fared well in the MPL so far, losing both of his fights. What's interesting about this fight though, is that Cocco has been fighting at 82kg in the MPL. Kyshenko has been fighting at 70k for a long time with a few bouts above, like his fight with Nieky Holzken at 74kg. His fight with Yodsanklai Fairtex will take place at 72.6kg. Artur was scheduled to fight L'houcine "Aussie" Ouzgni in July at 77g but the event was cancelled. There's no specified weight for this bout with Cocco yet, but one would assume it's around 77kg.

While Kyshenko is definitely the favorite here, it's interesting to see him finally start to take fights all over from 70-77kg. I've long been a believer that Kyshenko would be even more of a monster if he didn't have to cut so much weight and instead fought at a bit higher weight. [source]

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Photo of the Day: Jerome Le Banner Trains With Wanderlei Silva and Anderson Silva

Lots of professional MMA fighters have gotten the itch to bring over high level Kickboxers into their camps over the past year. Well, it appears that Jerome Le Banner is finally getting the call and is in the United States. He keeps good company. JLB has apparently been training at KINGS MMA now with Rafael Cordiero. It feels like Chute Boxe all over again, go figure. Maybe Jerome Le Banner is training for a fight in December at GENKI DESUKA!, even. We went ahead and asked him as soon as the show was announced, and he said that he is definitely onboard if they want him.

JLB

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