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Strikeforce: The MMA World's Purgatorio

In the realm of Mixed Martial Arts, there are some clear levels, much like Dante Alighieri wrote in his epic La Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy). For Dante, there was a clear progression as he toiled through the afterlife, he was first led through Hell, then he was led through Purgatory before finally having a glimpse at Heaven. If you wanted to compare it to MMA, the smaller, regional promotions are the veritable Hell. Low pay, bad attendance, poorly organized and promoted, but for most fighters, a necessity to move on to the “big leagues.” For many fighters, the biggest achievement is to be accepted into the UFC, to walk amongst the gods themselves beyond the steel gates of the Octagon. For fighters, the UFC is Heaven.

For a promotion like Strikeforce, though, there is a sense of being left-behind, like a middle child. Strikeforce finds itself not a containing the same rigors and lack of pay like the small minor leagues, but does not include the perks and the money that comes with fighting for the UFC. Instead, it is a virtual Purgatory for fighters. Fighters are left to reflect on their careers and see that they aren’t deemed as good enough to be called into the UFC, but are beyond the toiling in the reigional promotions.

Last night proved to be the first bigger Strikeforce event since the Showtime deal was re-negotiated, and something about the show did not come off as planned. On paper, the card was exciting and showed a lot of promise, but in execution it was a mess. If a fighter is competing within a promotion that stands on its own, there is something for them to achieve, but when the promotion is a feeder league with parallel divisions, the whole scope of the game changes. Part of what helped with Strikeforce’s charm was the attitude and identity of the promotion. It felt like a spiritual successor to some of the bigger Japanese events, with a focus on entertainment and promoting the fighters, not just the brand.

Continue Reading about the Harrowing of Strikeforce...

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Mirko Cro Cop vs. Jerome Le Banner Possibly on Tap for Genki Desuka 2011

In a ridiculously awkward turn of events, Mirk Cro Cop's recent retirement from MMA has made his name pop up more and more in the news than it ever did in his UFC run on an international level. What we know so far is that Mirko plans on returning to the Kickboxing world and it seems that March is his projected return date against a fearsome opponent in Errol Zimmerman. There is also negotiations ongoing with Dzevad Poturak for a bout in June. Both of these fights are incredibly tough fights for an aging Mirko who has been competing in MMA for years without competing in Kickboxing. He also has been away from training for Kickboxing, which can be a giant problem for a fighter coming from Mixed Martial Arts.

Then there is this piece of news, where Jerome Le Banner is set to be in action. His proposed opponent? Mirko Cro Cop. This would be a spiritual successor to their 1996 K-1 bout where Cro Cop walked away victorious, the only difference is that this would most likely be a professional wrestling bout contested under the IGF banner. According to Nikkan Sports Antonio Inoki has offered Cro Cop a spot on New Year's Eve against Le Banner, the current IGF Champion. IGF will also most likely have pro wrestling contests featuring Naoya Ogawa and Tadao Yasuda, both former professional wrestlers and MMA fighters. [source]

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Shakuta, Allazov, Samedov Return To Action In Belarus, December 18

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Three of the best fighters in Belarus will be returning to action on December 18 in Minsk. Dmitry Shakuta, Chingiz Allazov and Zabit Samedov will all be fighting.

Dmitry Shakuta has been in kickboxing for a very long time and has also been a top fighter at the 77-80kg weight range for a while. Coming off a controversial loss to Alexander Oleinik at the Tatneft Cup 2011 Finals, Shakuta will want to get back on track with a win. He fought only twice in 2010 and so far this year has fought five times, going 4-1.

Chingiz Allazov is one of the fastest rising prospects in all of kickboxing. He's risen to prominence under the Fight Code banner, completely destroying everyone that's put in front of him. He's only 19 or 20 and has a very bright future ahead of him. He fights around 67kg and he has the frame to grow into a 70kg fighter, where the big recognition in kickboxing is.

Zabit Samedov is a familiar fighter from K-1, having fought under the K-1 banner from 2006 to 2010. Samedov has been rather quiet this year, getting a draw with Ali Cenik and beating Vjekoslav Bajic in September. He also won a fight in MMA in March. He's a rather small heavyweight and he should probably be fighting lower in weight, where he doesn't face size disadvantages and can utilize his skills better.

Full fight card below. As for Tatneft Cup rules, they're pretty much the same as K-1 rules but no clinching at all, not even the one strike, one hand rule that K-1 has.

K-1 rules, 70 kg.

Farhat Ahmedjanov (Minsk, SC Chinook) vs Andrei Hamenok (Novopolotsk SDUSHOR Olympus)

Tatneft Cup rules, 68 lbs.

Genghis Allazov (Belarus, Minsk, SC Chinook) vs Martin Anwar (Austria)

Tatneft Cup rules, 65 kg.

Yuri Zhukovskii (Belarus, Minsk, SC CI) vs Valery Podoyahin (Latvia)

Tatneft Cup rules, 68 kg.

Mansour Azeri (Minsk, Belarus) vs Sergei Kulyab (Odessa, Ukraine, SC Captain)

MMA, Heavyweight.

Evgeni Lapin (Belarus, Gomel) vs Viorel Lipa (Moldova)

K-1 rules, Heavyweight.

Zabit Samedov (Belarus, Minsk, SC Patriot) vs fighter from Romania (No other information given) 114 kg.

K-1 rules, 80 kg.

Dmitry Shakuta (Belarus, Minsk, SC CHOC) vs Pokryshkin (No first name given) (Moldova)

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Fight Code Planning to Promote in United States

Fight CodeSome good news came this morning for fans of Kickboxing in the United States as Fight Code made an announcement that they have finally begun their advance on the United States. Their "big" announcement is that they have inked a television deal within the United States. Now, before you get overly excited about this prospect, the deal is with the network Fight Now TV, a network that currently only airs on the cable provider Cablevision, who has a subscription base of around 3.5 million. Fight Now TV currently does not offer any sort of streaming option and has a rather small reach compared to a network like HDnet who is home to a lot of combat sports or other, larger cable networks. It is a first step, though, and will be interesting to see where they go from here.

Their other news is that they plan on running at least 10 events in 2012, and have considered running shows in the United States. Hopefully for fans in the United States this works out. If you are one of the few who gets Fight Now TV, be happy that you will be able to watch Fight Code on your television and not on your computer.

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